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Yema Cake Recipe with Stable Yema Frosting

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This yema cake recipe has everything you love about this favourite Filipino dessert. Soft and airy chiffon cake, rich and thick yema spread, and yema frosting that’s stable and so easy to decorate with.

(Looking for more Filipino cake recipes? Start with ube cake, everyone’s favourite. Also try cassava cake with macapuno, the easiest cake recipe ever.)

Easy Yema Cake Recipe

I love yema cake but I’m really not a big fan of that dripping, cascading frosting it’s known for.

It’s super delicious, yes. But it really bugs me when I have frosting that I cannot pipe or decorate with. It’s really more yema sauce than frosting.

I understand that’s always how it’s been done; doesn’t mean we can’t change the old ways right? 

So I set out to develop a yema cake recipe that tastes as delicious as the yema cake I love, just as easy to make, but with a much more stable frosting that my OCD brain can live with lol.

And I couldn’t be happier! This cake is so good and looks so elegant it will be the hit of every gathering, from Easter to Christmas, from fiestas to birthday parties.

What is yema cake?

Easy Yema Cake Recipe

Like a lot of Filipino words, yema comes from the Spanish word for egg yolk. And that’s because yema is a kind of Filipino candy that’s made of egg yolks and condensed milk.

Yema candy is smooth, rich and very creamy.

Yema cake is a chiffon cake that’s filled and frosted with a slightly more spreadable version of yema candy. Sometimes the cake is also topped with grated cheese.

It’s very popular around the holiday season and, really, any celebration. Filipinos love their sweets!

Yema cake ingredients

Easy Yema Cake Recipe

Yema cake ingredients are simple pantry staples. To make the cake, you’ll need:

  • Egg whites
  • Cream of tartar
  • Granulated sugar
  • Cake flour
  • Baking powder
  • Salt
  • Eggs 
  • Water
  • Oil (canola or vegetable)
  • Vanilla extract

For the yema spread, you’ll need:

  • Sweetened condensed milk
  • Egg yolks
  • Vanilla extract
  • Lemon juice
  • Unsalted butter
  • Salt
  • Brown sugar

And to make the yema frosting, you’ll need:

  • Unsalted butter
  • Sweetened condensed milk
  • Salt
  • Yema spread

Easy yema cake recipe

This cake has 3 components: the chiffon cake, the yema spread for the filling and the yema frosting. 

How to make yema chiffon cake

1 PANS. Preheat oven to 325F and line the bottom of 2 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper. Set aside.

2 EGG WHITES. In a large bowl using a handheld electric mixer or using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip egg whites and cream of tartar on low-medium speed until foamy (1-2 minutes). Increase speed to medium-high and continue whipping until you reach stiff peaks (about 3-5 minutes). Set aside.

3 CAKE BATTER. In another large bowl, whisk sugar, cake flour, baking powder and salt until combined. Add eggs, water, oil and vanilla extract and whisk until smooth.

4 COMBINE. Fold egg whites into batter just until incorporated and no more large streaks of egg whites remain.

5 BAKE. Transfer batter to prepared pans and gently tap on the counter to release any air bubbles. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of each cake comes out clean.

How to Make Yema Cake

6 COOL. Cool the cakes in the pan for a few minutes then run a thin sharp knife along the edges, release the cakes from the pans, and transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

How to make yema spread for filling

While the cakes are baking or cooling, you can work on your yema spread.

1 COMBINE. Combine all your ingredients — except butter — in a saucepan and cook on low-medium heat. Stir often so it doesn’t burn.

2 THICKEN. Once thick (at around the 10 minute mark), add butter and continue to stir and cook until you get the consistency of spreadable caramel (another 15-20 minutes or so).

3 SET ASIDE. Remove from heat, transfer to a heat-proof container and allow to cool before using. 

How to make yema cake frosting

The base of this yema frosting is actually Russian buttercream, also sometimes called condensed milk buttercream. It’s simply a combination of condensed milk, butter and whatever flavour you like.

I know it sounds very sweet but it is surprisingly not sweet at all. It’s as smooth and velvety as Swiss meringue buttercream but way easier to make!

1 BUTTER. In a large bowl using a handheld electric mixer or using a stand mixer fitter with the paddle attachment, beat softened butter until very light and fluffy (about 10 minutes).

2 CONDENSED MILK. Add condensed milk and a pinch of salt. Beat until incorporated. 

3 YEMA SPREAD. Add yema spread and beat until combined and the frosting is light and fluffy. Chill the frosting if not using immediately.

How to assemble your cake

Now we arrive at the funnest part of the recipe: cake assembly and decoration!

Some tips I’ve learned along the way:

  • Make sure your cakes are completely cool before you start frosting. Otherwise, the frosting will melt.
  • You’ll want your yema spread at room temperature if in case you made it ahead and kept it in the fridge. It’s just more spreadable when it’s not chilled.
  • I also always create a dam around my layer cakes to keep the filling in.

Other than that, just have fun!

After frosting, chill the cake in the fridge to allow it to set before serving.

Recipe tips and FAQs

Like all layer cake recipes, this recipe has several components to it but each step is easy and simple to do. Mis en place will definitely make this cake that much easier to make.

Here are some more baking tips and FAQs.

Does yema cake need to be refrigerated

Easy Yema Cake Recipe

Yes, you need to refrigerate yema cake. It will continue to be soft and fluffy because the frosting keeps the moisture in.

I don’t bother to cover cake in the fridge unless there’s something really pungent in there that the cake might absorb, like onions. 

If I’m storing leftover cake slices though, I keep them in an airtight container to prevent the slices from getting too dry and crumbly.

How long does yema cake last

Easy Yema Cake Recipe

Frosted yema cake will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days. Something to keep in mind if you want to make it ahead. 

You can bake the cake layers way ahead though (think: at least 1 month). Just freeze them individually and frost them later.

What I do is wrap each cake with plastic wrap and foil. Then I keep them in a ziploc bag. 

When I’m ready to assemble, I bring them down to the fridge to thaw overnight, still in the packaging so that the packaging absorbs the excess moisture.

Chiffon cake baking tips

Easy Yema Cake Recipe
  • You’ll know your chiffon cake is done baking if the toothpick you inserted comes out clean or with minimal dry crumbs. If it comes out with wet chunks of batter, it needs to bake some more.
  • The cakes should also be lightly springy to the touch. If you gently press the cake and the batter sticks to your finger or doesn’t produce a bit of resistance, it’s not done.
  • There are several things you can do to avoid a rubbery cake, like: don’t over-mix the batter, make sure your oven temperature is accurate and don’t over-bake.
  • I give more chiffon cake baking tips in my recipe for ube chiffon cake. Check it out.

Yema spread cooking tips

Easy Yema Cake Recipe
  • To ensure the egg yolks don’t scramble, combine your yema spread ingredients first before cooking. Also ensure you stir often so the bottom doesn’t burn.
  • Don’t be tempted to raise the temperature to cook the mixture faster. This will just burn your spread. Slow, low and steady does it.
  • You want the spread to thicken but not too thick. Remember that it will continue to thicken as it cools and you want it to still be spreadable at that point. You want the consistency of dulce de leche spread or slightly runny caramel.
  • Do you have extra yema spread from this recipe? Keep it in an airtight container in the fridge. It goes great on pandesal and pancakes!
  • You can make yema spread up to a week ahead and yes, you can use ready-made yema spread for this recipe.

Yema frosting how-to and tips

Easy Yema Cake Recipe
  • The butter needs to be softened, but it also needs to still be cool to the touch. If you gently press your thumb on a piece of butter, you want it to give easily but still be cool and not room temperature. 
  • Does your frosting look curdled? No worries, just keep beating and it will come together.
  • If chilled, you may need to re-whip the frosting before using.

Yema cake is so good. Soft chiffon cake, rich and creamy yema spread, light and buttery yema frosting. Enjoy!

Easy Yema Cake Recipe

Yema Cake Recipe with Stable Yema Frosting

Author: Jolina
This yema cake recipe has everything you love about this favourite Filipino dessert. Soft and airy chiffon cake, rich and thick yema spread, and yema frosting that’s stable and so easy to decorate with.
Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 2 hrs
Course Dessert
Cuisine Filipino
Servings 12 people
Calories 566 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

For the chiffon cake:

  • 5 pcs egg whites from large eggs room temperature
  • ½ tsp cream of tartar
  • cups granulated sugar
  • cups sifted cake flour
  • 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
  • ½ cup canola oil can substitute with vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

For the yema spread / filling:

For the yema frosting:

  • 2 cups unsalted butter softened, but still cool to the touch
  • 1 10-oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • pinch salt
  • ½ cup yema spread adjust to taste

Instructions
 

For the chiffon cake:

  • Preheat oven to 325F and line the bottom of 2 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl using a handheld electric mixer or using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip 5 egg whites and ½ tsp cream of tartar on low-medium speed until foamy (1-2 minutes). Increase speed to medium-high and continue whipping until you reach stiff peaks (about 3-5 minutes). Set aside.
  • In another large bowl, whisk 1½ cups sugar, 1½ cups cake flour, 2 tsp baking powder and ¼ tsp salt until combined.
    How to Make Yema Cake
  • Add eggs (whole eggs and egg yolks), ¾ cup water, ½ cup oil and 1 tbsp vanilla extract and whisk until smooth.
    How to Make Yema Cake
  • Fold egg whites into batter just until incorporated and no more large streaks of egg whites remain.
    How to Make Yema Cake
  • Transfer batter to prepared pans and gently tap on the counter to release any air bubbles. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of each cake comes out clean.
    How to Make Yema Cake
  • Cool the cakes in the pan for a few minutes then run a thin sharp knife along the edges, release the cakes from the pans, and transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

For the yema spread / filling:

  • Combine all your ingredients — except butter — in a saucepan and cook on low-medium heat. Stir often so it doesn’t burn.
  • Once thick (at around the 10 minute mark), add 6 tbsp butter and continue to stir and cook until you get the consistency of spreadable caramel (another 15-20 minutes or so).
  • Remove from heat, transfer to a heat-proof container and allow to cool before using. 

For the yema frosting:

  • In a large bowl using a handheld electric mixer or using a stand mixer fitter with the paddle attachment, beat 2 cups softened butter until very light and fluffy (about 10 minutes).
    How to Make Yema Frosting
  • Add condensed milk and a pinch of salt. Beat until incorporated.
    How to Make Yema Frosting
  • Add ½ – ¾ cup yema spread (see notes) and beat until combined and the frosting is light and fluffy. Chill the frosting if not using immediately.
    How to Make Yema Frosting

How to assemble cake:

  • Trim the tops of your cake if they are uneven using a serrated knife or a cake leveller. The important thing is the tops are level and your two cakes are of equal height (you can eyeball this but a ruler is very handy).
  • Take one cake and place on a platter or cake turntable smooth side down (trimmed side up). Using a piping bag fitted with your favourite large tip (see notes), pipe a border around the cake to act as a dam so your yema spread won't ooze out later.
    How to Assemble Yema Cake
  • Fill the centre with yema spread. You'll want the height of the yema equal to the height of your dam so your cake doesn't sag in the middle.
    How to Assemble Yema Cake
  • Put your other cake on top, smooth side up (trimmed side down) and decorate as desired.
  • Chill in the fridge to allow the frosting to set prior to serving.

Video

Notes

  1. The number of servings depends on how big or small you slice the cake.
  2. For the frosting, start with 1/2 cup yema spread. Add more to taste. I usually use between 1/2 and 3/4 cup.
  3. For piping your border or dam, I would recommend the Wilton 1A or similar or just simply cut the end of a piping bag or Ziploc bag to make a hole about 1/3 of an inch in diameter.
  4. Optional: put grated cheese on top for a more traditional yema cake.
  5. See post for more tips, FAQs and the complete step-by-step photos.

Nutrition

Calories: 566kcalCarbohydrates: 37gProtein: 2gFat: 46gSaturated Fat: 24gCholesterol: 105mgSodium: 154mgPotassium: 113mgFiber: 1gSugar: 25gVitamin A: 1131IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 42mgIron: 1mg

Nutritional information are estimates only.

Keyword Birthday, Celebration, Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day
Tried this recipe?Tag @iamtheunlikelybaker I’d love to see your creations!

Happy baking!

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