Fluffy Ube Cake with Whipped Cream Cheese (It's a chiffon!)

This ube coconut chiffon cake is filled with coconut strips (macapuno) and topped with a whipped cream cheese frosting. The cake is ube and coconut flavored with a super fluffy yet delicately moist crumb. The cream cheese frosting is moderately sweet and tangy from the cream cheese that pairs well with the super sweet macapuno filling.

My ube coconut chiffon is the lightest of all my cakes, yet sturdy enough to stack into tall layer cakes. It’s got a fine and delicate crumb with a moderately moist texture. The cake can be flavored in two ways: either plain ube or enhanced with coconut oil and coconut water for a secondary coconut flavor. Both variations of this cake yield a vibrant purple color from ube extract. 

If you choose the ube coconut variation, there is a slight decrease in the final height of the cake, and the crumb is a bit denser. It’s still a fluffy cake, but I think the coconut fat, primarily saturated and solid at room temperature, affects the crumb structure a bit.

If you prefer the lightest and fluffiest cake possible (or like my vanilla chiffon cake), you can substitute the coconut oil for canola or vegetable oil and the coconut water for regular water. I’ll annotate this in the recipe for you below. I find that ube extract already has a coconut flavor undertone so that in and of itself may be enough coconut flavor for your cake.

The frosting for this cake is a whipped cream cheese frosting; it tastes like a less dense cheesecake covering your cake. Compared to a traditional whipped cream (Chantilly cream), it’s slightly less aerated and feels a touch thicker. It has a subtle sweetness (that you can increase a little) and a super tangy and prominent cream cheese flavor, so be sure you like cream cheese for this frosting. If you prefer a lighter frosting without the tanginess, I have several other whipped cream frostings that you can choose for this cake.

For the filling, I used jarred macapuno. These are from a variety of coconut that produces super sweet, intensely flavored coconut meat. It is optional for this cake, but absolutely delicious.

What ingredients are needed to make this Ube Coconut Chiffon Cake?

Coconut water provides moisture and a bit of coconut flavor for this cake. The primary flavor for coconut is really the unrefined coconut oil, so you can sub water for coconut water with very little difference in coconut flavor. If you use coconut water, make sure it’s pure coconut water with no other additives (gums, etc.)

Unrefined coconut oil is the main source of coconut flavor for the coconut version of this cake. In the United States, we have two types: unrefined or refined coconut oil. Refined coconut oil is process to remove the flavor and odor of coconut whereas unrefined has a strong coconut flavor - that is the one you want to buy for this cake.

Egg yolks are separated from their whites and used to make the liquid portion of this cake. The yolks provide fat, protein, moisture, and emulsifiers. 

Ube extract is the source of ube flavor in this cake. I attempted to use ube halaya (ube jam) or powdered ube, but my chiffons are pretty finicky. Ube starches seemed to inhibit the rise of my chiffon, causing a super dense cake. I’ve used two brands successfully in this cake: Ube Extract from Butterfly (which I buy from Amazon, here) and Ube Extract from Uniflavor (which I can only find in Seafood Market stores in California.)

Cake flour is the primary starch and is more finely milled with a lower protein content than all-purpose flour. You can use either bleached or unbleached, but I typically use King Arthur’s Unbleached Cake Flour in all my recipes. I just like the taste. 

Cornstarch (or corn flour) is another starch for this cake. It does not contain gluten and so provides structure without chewiness. 

White granulated sugar provides sweetness and moisture for this cake. It’s used in two parts during the batter process. The larger amount is mixed into the dry ingredients (flour, etc.), and the smaller amount is used during the meringue process to help stabilize it a bit.

Baking powder is the leavening ingredient. It contains both an acid and base in powder form that when exposed to water and heat produces carbon dioxide gas (and a bit of salt). This allows the cake to rise. 

Kosher salt enhances the flavor of the cake.

Egg whites are separated from the egg yolks and whipped up with cream of tartar and sugar to produce a meringue. The egg white proteins trap air, which is then expanded with carbon dioxide produced from the baking powder. The proteins also provide a protein scaffolding inside the cake, giving it structure once its baked.

Cream of tartar is a white powder scraped from the inside of wine barrels that contains tartaric acid. When whipping up egg whites, the acid helps unfold the proteins more readily to elongate and trap air bubbles more efficiently. This produces a loftier meringue. If you don’t have the cream of tartar, sub double the volume of either vinegar (containing acetic acid) or lemon juice (citric acid). 

What ingredients are needed to make the Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting?

Cream Cheese is the star of this frosting. You can use either block or tub form since the moisture content is usually only a difference of a couple of percent. What’s more important is that you buy a cream cheese that contains stabilizers, which helps give the final frosting the structure required for piping and frosting onto cakes. The gums are labeled on the ingredient list as xanthan gum, locust bean gum, carob bean gum, or guar gum.

Heavy Cream is needed to lighten the frosting a bit. Ensure you get the highest fat content heavy cream, sometimes labeled “heavy cream” or “heavy whipping cream.” You need a fat content exceeding 35% for the cream to whip up correctly.

Powdered Sugar is the sweetener for this frosting.

What is macapuno?

Macapuno as a cake filling was suggested by many bakers on Instagram when I was talking about how I would release an ube chiffon cake video. It is coconut meat derived from coconuts that have a genetic defect. Regular coconuts are typically hollow, but this particular defect causes the coconut to fill with jelly-like centers, rendering them infertile. The meat, however, has a fantastic soft-chewy texture and contains a higher sugar content than regular coconuts. It’s also intensely coconut flavored. It's amazing.

It’s sold in jars in the US at Asian markets, and I found mine at a local Filipino grocery.

Here's a video on how to make and bake the ube batter, as well as assembly of this cake:

You can use this exact 7-inch cake recipe or create your own recipe using my Cakeculator:

The ube coconut cake recipe below gives instructions for a 7-inch 3-layer cake with 4 ½ cups of whipped cream cheese frosting. 

You can create your combination of flavors using my Cakeculator. You can go here and select “Ube Coconut chiffon” for the cae flavor, and any pan size (cakes or cupcakes or whatever) and then choose the frosting of your choice.

Go to the Cakeculator here.


Hi! I'm Adriana.

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