Ube chiffon cake is light, airy and melts-in-your-mouth. With its vibrant purple colour and delicious ube flavour, it’s perfect for special occasions. Easy to make, it’s great as an everyday cake too!
(Looking for a recipe for ube cake with frosting? Check out this delicious ube purple yam cake frosted with the most delightful ube Swiss meringue buttercream.)
As much as I love frosting, I love simple cakes more. Cakes that aren’t overwhelmingly sweet that you can’t, ironically, stop eating it lol.
This ube chiffon cake is like that. No frosting. Not even a glaze. It’s great on its own it doesn’t need anything else.
I also like that it’s light and fluffy but has a depth to it, you know what I mean? It’s also moist and wonderfully packed with that distinct ube flavour.
It’s a lovely cake to serve to company; who wouldn’t be impressed by that bright colour? But it’s also so simple and easy to make, you can bake it any day just because. And if you’re a fan of ube like me, you’d want to make this cake all the time.
What is ube?
Ube (pronounced ooh-bae) is purple yam native to the Philippines. It’s sweet but not too sweet; starchy but not as starchy as sweet potatoes. It’s packed with nutrients too.
Every year, ube climbs up the trendy, must-try food ladder not only because of its bright purple hue but also because of its very unique taste. And I say it’s about time.
Filipinos around the world have been eating (and loving) the lowly ube forever and it’s wonderful that it’s finally given the attention it deserves.
I have a ton of delicious ube dessert recipes here on TUB (just type “ube” on the search bar) but I have never been 100% successful describing how ube tastes like. It’s definitely something you want to try for yourself.
Ube jam is the most widely available kind of ube dessert that you can try. Not all jams are created equal though. And some are downright bad to be honest with you.
I’m partial to the original Good Shepherd ube jam so grab one if you can find it! Homemade ube halaya is great too.
What is chiffon cake?
To quote Wikipedia:
A chiffon cake is a very light cake made with vegetable oil, eggs, sugar, flour, baking powder, and flavourings. Its distinctive feature is from the use of vegetable oil, instead of the traditional fat which is solid at room temperature, such as butter or shortening.
This means chiffon cakes are very soft and very light. Egg whites are also usually beaten and added separately to the cake batter and this further adds to the airy texture chiffon cakes have.
Chiffon cakes are part of the sponge cake family. Here’s a helpful intro into the wonderful wide world of sponge cakes.
Ingredients for ube chiffon cake
Now on to baking our ube chiffon cake! You’ll need:
- Cake flour
- Granulated sugar
- Baking powder
- Eggs – some whole, some separated
- Canola or vegetable oil (any flavourless oil will do)
- Ube extract (this recipe doesn’t have added food colouring; the cake gets all that wonderful purple from the ube extract)
- Cream of tartar
Cake flour has lower protein content than all-purpose flour and results to soft, delicate, fine-crumbed cakes like chiffon cakes and angel food cakes. If you only have all-purpose flour, you can still make chiffon cake by adding cornstarch into your mixture.
Here’s a great guide on how to make cake flour with all-purpose flour.
Tools you need to make this chiffon cake recipe
As far as tools go, you’ll need to have a tube pan with a removable bottom. If you’re in the market for one, you want to buy one with a removable bottom that doesn’t leak and has “feet” on its rim to lift the cake up as it cools.
Other than that, the rest of the tools you need are pretty basic:
- Electric hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment
- Mixing bowls
- Measuring cups and spoons
How to make ube chiffon cake
1. PREP TUBE PAN. Adjust your baking rack to the lower third/lower middle position and preheat oven to 325F. Line the bottom of a 16-cup tube pan with parchment paper (see guide below) and set aside.
2. COMBINE INGREDIENTS. In a large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, salt and baking powder until combined. Add whole eggs, egg yolks, water, oil, ube extract and whisk until smooth.
3. ADD EGG WHITES. Add egg whites you’ve whipped to stiff peaks to your cake batter and fold until combined. Handle carefully so as not to deflate the air out of your egg whites.
4. TRANSFER TO PAN AND BAKE. Transfer your cake batter into your cake pan and smoothen the top with a spatula. Gently tap the pan on your counter a few times to release any air bubbles. Bake for 30 minutes, rotate the pan, then bake for another 30 minutes or until a bamboo skewer inserted into the cake comes out with minimal dry crumbs.
5. COOL ON COUNTER. If your tube pan has “feet” on its rim, invert pan to cool cake. If your pan doesn’t have feet, invert your pan over the neck of a bottle so that the air can circulate. Cool completely; about a couple of hours.
6. REMOVE FROM PAN AND SERVE. To remove the cake from the pan, run a thin knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the cake then gently tap upside down (I like catching the cake onto a piece of parchment paper or on a cutting board). Peel off parchment paper on the bottom of the cake, turn the cake right side up on a cake platter and enjoy!
Chiffon cake troubleshooting guide
How do I know if my cake is done baking?
You’ll know your chiffon cake is done baking if the bamboo skewer you inserted comes out with minimal dry crumbs. This means if it comes out with wet chunks of batter, it needs to bake some more.
The cake should also be lightly springy to the touch. If cake batter sticks to your finger or doesn’t produce a bit of resistance, it’s not done.
Why is my ube chiffon cake dry and rubbery?
When they say baking is a science, they’re not kidding! Several factors can contribute to a rubbery cake, like:
- Over-mixing the batter or mixing it too heavy-handedly; this results to heavy, dense, rubbery cakes.
- Your oven temperature might have been too high; invest in an oven thermometer so you know you’re always baking at the right temperature.
- The cake baked for too long; over-baking cakes causes it to lose moisture and become dry and rubbery.
It’s good to always read the recipe beforehand but also trust your gut because you know your oven best. If you think your cake needs to stay in the oven longer or needs to be taken out earlier, you’re probably right.
Why did my chiffon cake collapse after baking?
Again, there are several factors you need to consider.
- Did you beat the egg whites properly? Not beating the egg whites enough will cause the cake to collapse; over-beating them will result to a dense cake.
- Did you grease your pan? I hope not! The cake batter needs to cling to the sides and centre of the tube pan in order to rise. Some bakers suggest using a non non-stick pan for optimal results but I’ve always baked my chiffon cakes in my non-stick pan and they turn out fine. I just don’t grease them when baking chiffon cakes.
- Did you bake at the right temperature? If your oven temperature is too low, your chiffon cake will not rise properly. Again, an oven thermometer helps a lot.
- How did you cool your chiffon cake? It’s important to invert your tube pan while the cake cools. Otherwise, it will collapse onto itself.
Help! My cake is stuck in the pan.
Usually, the best way to avoid cake sticking to a pan is greasing the pan before pouring the batter into it.
However, chiffon cakes need to stick to the sides and centre of your pan to help it rise. Which is fine because it’s easy enough to run a thin, sharp knife around the edges and centre of the pan to detach your cake.
The bottom part is a little bit more challenging so I always line it with parchment paper. Tube pans are tricky to line with parchment so here’s a handy guide.
How to line a tube pan with parchment paper
Other ube purple Filipino dessert recipes
Ube is one of my favourite ingredients to work with. Ready to get on the ube train? Here are other ube recipes you can try.
- Ube cupcakes are little ube cakes packed with big ube flavour. Soft, dense and just the right amount of sweet. This recipe has video and step-by-step photos so you can follow along easily.
- Homemade ube ice cream is bright, purple and bursting with delicious ube flavour. Bonus: you don’t need an ice cream maker!
- Ube crinkles are soft, fluffy and perfect for the holidays! Check out the video to see how easy they are to bake.
- For the ultimate ube treat, make ube cheesecake. It’s everything you ever wanted in an ube dessert. Luxurious ube cheesecake filling on a bed of crunchy coconut cookie crust then topped with creamy coconut whipped cream.
Ube Chiffon Cake Recipe
- 1 ½ cups sifted cake flour
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 pcs large eggs room temperature
- 5 pcs egg yolks from large eggs room temperature
- ¾ cup water room temperature
- ½ cup canola oil can also use vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp ube extract
- 5 pcs egg whites from large eggs room temperature
- ½ tsp cream of tartar
- Adjust your baking rack to the lower third/lower middle position and preheat oven to 325F. Line a 16-cup tube pan with parchment paper (see post) and set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk 1 ½ cups cake flour, 1 ½ cups sugar, 2 tsp baking powder and ½ tsp salt until combined.
- Add 2 whole eggs, 5 egg yolks, ¾ cup water, ½ cup oil and 2 tbsp ube extract and whisk until smooth.
- Using an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip 5 eggs whites with ½ tsp cream of tartar on medium speed until foamy. Switch to medium-high speed and whip until stiff peaks form.
- Add egg whites to your egg yolk mixture and fold until incorporated and you don't see streaks of egg whites remain. Handle carefully so as not to deflate the air out of your egg whites.
- Transfer your cake batter into your tube pan and smoothen the top with a spatula. Gently tap the pan on your counter a few times to release any air bubbles. Bake for 30 minutes, rotate the pan, then bake for another 30 minutes or until a bamboo skewer inserted into the cake comes out with minimal dry crumbs.
- If your tube pan has “feet” on its rim, invert pan to cool cake. If your pan doesn’t have feet, invert your pan over the neck of a bottle so that the air can circulate. Cool completely; about a couple of hours.
- To remove, run a thin knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the cake then gently tap upside down (I like catching the cake onto a piece of parchment paper or on a cutting board). Peel off parchment paper on the bottom of the cake, turn the cake right side up on a cake platter and enjoy!
- See post for chiffon cake troubleshooting guide, how to line a tube pan and the complete step-by-step photos.
- Ube chiffon cake can be stored on the counter at room temperature for up to 2 days and in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Nutritional information are estimates only.
Did you make this ube chiffon cake recipe? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below. And check this out if you’re looking for more Filipino dessert recipes!
OMG you are a lifesaver! Always had bad luck with baking ube cake but this one worked so well! so fluffy! I substituted lemon juice for the cream of tartar and it worked! At first I was sceptic since there was no sugar in the egg white mixture but it turned out great! Thanks again for sharing!!
That’s great TSR! And thanks for your feedback on using lemon juice, I get lots of questions about that. Will help other readers for sure. Have a lovely day!
This is my first time making a chiffon cake. I tried this recipe but just can’t seem to get it right. I kept having an issue with the egg yolk mixture and whipped egg whites separating during the folding process. I know you’re meant to avoid over mixing, but I just kept turning up with more and more of the dark batter at the bottom of the bowl. I was folding for about 15 minutes and was worried I was deflating the batter too much but it still hadn’t fully combined. When I baked the cake it was like all the egg yolk mixture sank to the bottom creating a gummy layer. Should I have just kept mixing? What can I do differently?
Hi Ro, 15 minutes is definitely too long. When folding, you want to scoop from the bottom of the bowl, gently fold the mixture in (scrape your spatula along the curve of the bowl) and rotate the bowl until the meringue is fully incorporated into the cake batter.
Hi can I use this chiffon cake to make Ube cake? Thanks
Hi Carmela, yes you can. You might also want to look at this recipe – https://theunlikelybaker.com/ube-cake-filipino-purple-yam-cake/
First time baking this ube chiffon cake but it cake out blue-green instead of purple!!!
Hi Aranya, do you mean the insides or the edges? The edges of my cake always turn a little brownish too, because it’s exposed to the pan. But the insides are always a vibrant purple.
Hello, I’m interested to try this this weekend, but I was wondering how you think it will hold if I made the same batter as cupcakes vs a cake? Do you suppose the results could be the same? Thank you for any input
Hi HM, not sure as I haven’t tried but I have a similar recipe (https://theunlikelybaker.com/hokkaido-chiffon-cupcakes/) where I put the chiffon cupcakes in cardboard cups not paper liners. Hope that helps! Would love to hear how they turn out.
Hi Jolina! This cake sounds so delicious. Is the recipe good for 3, 6″ cake pans? And can I stack them up without falling apart?
Hi Jen, I haven’t tried with this specific recipe but I have tried with other chiffon cakes (e.g. mango chiffon cake and chocolate chiffon cake recipes here on the blog) and they turned out well. They’re softer and more delicate than other layer cakes. If you’re looking to make an ube layer cake, try this one: https://theunlikelybaker.com/ube-cake-filipino-purple-yam-cake/ Enjoy!
I used an angel food pan with a removable bottom but it ended up leaking from the bottom all over the oven. What should I have done differently?
Hi Dora, I have the same kind of pan. It’s never leaked on me but to be sure, I always (always!) place it on a baking sheet just in case a mishap happens, the batter will leak onto the sheet. I also always line the bottom with parchment paper. I read that some bakers also line the outside bottom with foil and they’ve had success with it but I haven’t tried that.
I assume I can use a bundt pan?
Hi Dora, chiffon cakes can’t be successfully made in any greased or nonstick pan — or any Bundt pan at all (source: https://www.thekitchn.com/whats-the-difference-between-bundt-pans-sponge-cake-pans-and-chiffon-pans-228096)
Is it ok to add sugar when you whip the egg whites? Also, can I use self raising flour instead?
Hi Gigi, no just stick to cream of tartar. And I haven’t used self rising flour so I can’t say. If you are going to substitute, remember it’s not a 1:1 substitution.
I just made this cake a few days ago and it turned out perfectly!! Incredibly moist and brimming with ube flavour – it was my first time baking with ube as well and a nice break from Pandan chiffon 🙂 Can’t wait to try out more recipes.
Thanks awesome Kim! Glad you liked it 🙂 Pandan chiffon is next on my list actually lol!
Hi! Looks simple but imagining it to be very tasty! Mom loves anything and everything ube so Id love to try! 🙂 Can I use a loaf pan for this recipe?
Hi SJ. Chiffon cakes are usually baked in tube pans because they need to stick to the middle and the sides of the pan to achieve that height and texture. If you bake them in regular cake pans, they won’t be as tall and may not be as soft and light. If you do use loaf pans, remember NOT to grease the sides of the pan and to put parchment paper on the bottom. And you would probably need 2-3 loaf pans to accommodate all the batter.