In recent times, the history of Purple Yam Cakes, widely known as Ube Cakes in the Philippines, has been a topic of discussion and at times, subject to misconceptions. As there are delusional bakers who claimed that they invented the Purple Yam Cake formula, this raises the need to examine its origins more closely.
Purple Yam Cakes in the 1800s
The origins of the Purple Yam Cake date back to the 1800s, a period marked by the American introduction of cake flour to the Philippines. Our local bakers, already familiar with the local fondness for purple yam-flavored delicacies such as "kakanin," started to innovate, using Ube as a main ingredient in their cake recipes.
During the Spanish colonial era, Puto Bumbong, a popular Filipino dessert, was already being crafted with Ube Halaya — the main ingredient of Purple Yam Cakes. The introduction of Puto Bumbong is attributed to the early days of the Spanish colonial rule, with its roots believed to have been brought from Mexico by individuals accompanying Miguel Lopez de Legazpi's expedition (1).
The arrival of the Americans and their cake flour technology marked the beginning of the creation of purple yam cakes in the form we are familiar with today.
The Invention of Chiffon Cake: A Culinary Milestone
In the midst of these changes, the Purple Yam Cake found a new ally in the form of chiffon cake, an American innovation that redefined cake baking. The chiffon cake was invented in the 1920s by Harry Baker, a Californian insurance salesman turned baker. Baker's unique recipe, which remained a closely guarded secret for over two decades, revolutionized the cake world with its light, airy texture. He achieved this by combining oil and whipped egg whites, a method unheard of at the time in traditional cake baking.
The integration of chiffon cake techniques into Purple Yam Cake recipes marked a significant shift. Bakers began to incorporate the light, airy texture of chiffon cake into the traditional Purple Yam Cake, creating a delightful fusion that combined modern baking innovations with traditional flavors. This fusion allowed for a resurgence in the popularity of Purple Yam Cakes, offering a new experience while retaining the beloved taste of ube. It was a testament to the adaptability of traditional recipes in modern culinary arts, where old flavors meet new techniques to create something uniquely satisfying.
The Transformation of Purple Yam Cake in Modern Times
Over the years, Purple Yam Cakes grew immensely in popularity. However, as technology transformed the baking industry and profit became the primary focus, a clear shift occurred. The increasing demand led to the rise of mass-produced ube powders and artificial premixes.
Sadly, this move to quicker production methods came with a cost. The widespread use of preservatives, artificial colors, and fillers compromised the unique taste of the purple yam cake. Some well-known brands, in an effort to boost efficiency, turned to these ube powders, losing the cake's authentic flavor in the process. As a result, many consumers found themselves longing for the original purple yam cakes taste they once loved.
Purple Cake Shop: Return to the Roots
In the wake of diminishing traditional Ube flavor, establishments like Purple Cake Shop rose to the challenge, passionately advocating for the authentic Ube cake experience. Through meticulous sourcing of genuine Purple Yams and adhering to time-tested techniques, they strive to deliver cakes that resonate with the authentic taste many crave.
Customers of Purple Cake Shop consistently highlight their unwavering commitment to authenticity. Many praise the distinct taste of their Ube cakes, pointing out the clear distinction that results from using traditional methods and genuine ingredients.
But for Purple Cake Shop, it's not just about taste. They emphasize the importance of a complete experience. Even with a niche product line, they recognize that a memorable customer encounter is about more than just flavor. They've intentionally fostered a welcoming environment, creating an atmosphere in harmony with their celebrated Purple Yam Cakes.