Ube Macapuno Cake: Step-by-Step Recipe & Tips

Ube Macapuno Cake: Step-by-Step Recipe & Tips

Ube, a purple yam, has been a staple in Filipino cuisine for centuries. Known for its vibrant color and subtly sweet flavor, ube is often used in desserts like ice cream and halaya (a type of yam jam). Macapuno, a unique coconut variety, has a gelatinous texture unlike regular coconuts. This coconut is sweeter and more tender, making it a popular ingredient in Filipino sweets like candies and preserves. Both ingredients, deeply rooted in Filipino culture, offer distinct flavors and textures.

How Ube Macapuno Cake Combines These Ingredients

Ube Macapuno Cake seamlessly fuses the earthy sweetness of ube and the chewy texture of macapuno. The cake base typically uses ube halaya mixed into the batter, giving it a moist texture and vibrant purple color. Macapuno strips are often incorporated between layers or used as a topping, adding a unique, chewy texture and sweetness. This combination creates a dessert that is both visually stunning and rich in flavor, reflecting the culinary heritage of the Philippines.

Key Ingredients and Substitutions

Essential Ingredients for Authentic Flavor

Ube Macapuno Cake relies on specific ingredients to deliver its distinct taste and texture. The main components and their roles include:

  1. Ube Halaya: This ube jam gives the cake its vibrant purple color and a subtle sweetness. It’s made from boiled and mashed purple yam mixed with condensed milk and butter.
  2. Macapuno Strings: These gelatinous coconut strips add chewiness and extra sweetness. They originate from a rare type of coconut that produces a naturally soft, jelly-like flesh.
  3. Cake Flour: This type of flour results in a lighter, fluffier texture compared to all-purpose flour due to its lower protein content.
  4. Egg Whites: Beaten to stiff peaks, egg whites add volume and lightness to the cake batter.
  5. Butter: Provides a rich, moist texture to the cake. Unsalted butter is typically preferred to control the salt level in the recipe.
  6. Sugar: Granulated sugar sweetens the cake. It’s crucial for the overall flavor balance.
  7. Baking Powder: Acts as a leavening agent to help the cake rise properly, ensuring a soft and airy crumb.
  8. Vanilla Extract: Enhances the overall flavor profile by adding subtle aroma and taste nuances.

Possible Substitutions for Accessibility

Sometimes, authentic ingredients may not be available. In such cases, here are some viable substitutions:

  1. Frozen Ube: If fresh ube is unavailable, frozen ube can be used. Thaw and process it to a smooth paste as a substitute for ube halaya.
  2. Shredded Coconut: In the absence of macapuno, sweetened shredded coconut can replace macapuno strings. The texture will differ slightly, but it maintains the coconut flavor.
  3. All-Purpose Flour: Although cake flour is ideal, all-purpose flour can work in a pinch. For every cup of cake flour, use one cup minus two tablespoons of all-purpose flour plus two tablespoons of cornstarch.
  4. Cream of Tartar: If you’re short on baking powder, use a mixture of baking soda and cream of tartar. Blend one teaspoon of baking soda with two teaspoons of cream of tartar for an equivalent replacement of one tablespoon of baking powder.
  5. Coconut Milk: If macapuno strings are inaccessible, supplementing with coconut milk adds a similar coconut essence to the batter.

By carefully selecting necessary ingredients and understanding feasible substitutions, you ensure that your Ube Macapuno Cake remains flavorful and authentic, while being accessible to a wider audience.

Step-by-Step Baking Guide

Preparing the Ube Base

Start by preheating your oven to 350°F (175°C). Begin setting up the ube base by whisking 2 cups of cake flour with 2 teaspoons of baking powder. In another bowl, combine 1 cup of softened butter with 1 cup of sugar using an electric mixer. Mix in 4 egg yolks one at a time, ensuring each is fully incorporated before adding the next. Add 1 cup of ube halaya and 2 teaspoons of ube extract. Gradually fold in the flour mixture and 1 cup of milk until the batter is smooth. Transfer the batter into a greased 9-inch cake pan and bake for 25-30 minutes. Cool the cake completely before proceeding.

Making the Macapuno Filling

Prepare the macapuno filling while the cake cools. Combine 1 cup of macapuno strings, ½ cup of heavy cream, and 1 tablespoon of sugar in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring regularly until the mixture thickens which usually takes about 10-15 minutes. Let it cool to room temperature before using it as the filling.

Assembling and Frosting the Cake

Slice the cooled ube base horizontally to create two even layers. Place the first layer on a serving plate and spread the macapuno filling evenly over it. Place the second layer on top. In another bowl, whip 2 cups of heavy cream with ½ cup of powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract until stiff peaks form. Frost the entire cake with the whipped cream mixture. Optionally, garnish the top with extra macapuno strings or ube halaya for added texture and visual appeal. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Serving and Presentation Tips

Best Practices for Serving Ube Macapuno Cake

Ensure your Ube Macapuno Cake is cold before slicing, which preserves its structure. Use a sharp knife for clean cuts. Slice vertically, maintaining even thickness. When plating, consider individual servings or family-style presentation.

Offer whipped cream or ube ice cream on the side. Complement with fresh fruits like mangoes, pineapples, or berries. Serve with coffee or tea for a balanced flavor experience.

Creative Presentation Ideas

Garnish with ube halaya swirls, macapuno strings, or toasted coconut flakes for visual appeal. Use edible flowers or mint leaves to add color. Arrange slices in a fan shape on platters for elegant dining.

Layer different sized cake tiers for a celebration. Cover with colorful sprinkles or fondant leaves for extra flair. Dust with powdered sugar or cocoa for a minimalist finish.

Combine elements like fruit slices, whipped cream, and ube garnish to create intricate dessert plates. Offer variations by serving as cake pops, cupcakes, or mini-cake jars for individual portions.


Creating an Ube Macapuno Cake is a delightful journey into the heart of Filipino cuisine. This cake isn’t just a treat for the eyes but a rich tapestry of flavors and textures that leave a lasting impression. Whether you’re a seasoned baker or a novice, the step-by-step guide ensures that you can craft this masterpiece with confidence.

The combination of ube and macapuno offers a unique taste experience, while the presentation tips help make your cake a showstopper at any gathering. So, gather your ingredients, follow the baking steps, and let your creativity shine in the final presentation. Your Ube Macapuno Cake will surely be a hit, celebrating the vibrant flavors and traditions of Filipino desserts.

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