Ube Swirl Bread

  • Ube Swirl Bread: soft yeasted dough filled with a sweet coconut and purple yam paste. It’s a Filipino variation on a classic cinnamon roll.

    Ube Swirl Bread

    Purple yam. It’s called ube (pronounced ooo-bae) in Tagalog. It’s a super popular tuber in the Philippines, widely used in desserts. While purple yam is a relative of sweet potato, they’re not the same tuber. It is also not the same as taro root, although they are often mistakenly used interchangeably.

    I have been holding on to the recipe for this ube swirl bread FOREVER. I wanted to test the recipe a few times before sharing it, but I had the most difficult time tracking down purple yam. Perhaps it’s a seasonality issue? (Does anyone know when purple yam is in season?) I did, however, find tons of powdered purple yam. Unfortunately, I did not have much luck using the powdered stuff. Eventually, I got my hands on enough purple yam to test this recipe several times and now I’m happy to finally share it with you!

    Ube Swirl Bread (Purple Yam)

    Once you find purple yam, how do you use it?!

    Purple yam is a very starchy and dry tuber. Do you see the little white dots on the cut purple yam photographed above? That’s the milky starch escaping.

    Just like any other tuber, purple yams can be boiled, steamed, or baked. Once cooked, purple yam doesn’t really taste like much. Its flavors are enhanced once it’s mixed with sweeteners and liquids. I prefer to steam purple yams. I find it’s the fastest and cleanest way to get the job done. Steaming also helps to retain that vibrant purple color.

    Ube Swirl Bread (Purple Yam)

    To make the ube filling, peel the outer skin of the purple yam and cut the tuber into roughly equal chunks. Steam the purple yam until it can easily be pierced with a fork. Allow the purple yam to slightly cool and then mash it! Add sweetened condensed milk and coconut milk and mix it all together. (At this stage, I could eat this stuff straight out of the bowl!)

    Ube Swirl Bread (Purple Yam)

    Ube Swirl Bread (Purple Yam)

    Ube Swirl Bread (Purple Yam)

    Ube Swirl Bread (Purple Yam)

    Ube Swirl Bread (Purple Yam)

    This ube swirl bread is earthy, nutty, sweet, and visually striking. I’ll always be in awe of that all natural purple filling. You can bake it into a round like this, or use the same recipe to create individual rolls (like cinnamon rolls). It has quickly become a breakfast favorite in my house and I can’t wait to make another batch!

    Ube Swirl Bread (Purple Yam Swirl Bread)

    Yield: 10-inch round


    Ube Paste:

    • 1 1/2 pounds purple yam, peeled
    • 5 Tbsp canned coconut milk
    • 4 Tbsp sweetened condensed milk


    • 2 1/4 tsp (7 g) active dry yeast
    • 1/4 cup + 1 tsp granulated sugar
    • 1 cup warm whole milk, heated to 110 degrees F
    • 1/3 cup (76 g) unsalted butter, melted
    • 1/4 cup (60 g) sour cream, room temperature
    • 1 large egg, room temperature
    • 4 cups (500 g) all-purpose flour
    • 1 tsp (3 g) kosher salt


    • 1 cup ube paste
    • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened


    Ube Paste:

    1. Wash and peel purple yams. Slice into equal sized large chunks. Place in a steam basket. Set over pot of simmering water. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes until yams can easily be pierced with a fork.
    2. Set aside and allow yams to slightly cool. Mash yams with condensed milk and coconut milk. Mix may be a little chunky. If you would like a smoother paste, pulse in a food processor. Keep chilled until ready to use.


    1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 tsp sugar in warm milk. Let sit for 5 minutes to allow yeast to activate.
    2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together remaining 1/4 cup sugar, melted butter, sour cream, and egg. Add yeast mixture and stir to combine.
    3. In a large bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Attach dough hook to stand mixer. Add flour mixture to mixing bowl 1 cup at a time with the mixing running on low. Once all the flour has been added, increase speed to medium and knead for 2 minutes.
    4. Transfer dough to a lightly greased large bowl. Cover and allow dough to rest for one hour until dough has doubled in volume.

    Filling and Assembly:

    1. Combine 1 cup of ube paste with softened butter. Set aside until ready to fill dough.
    2. Grease a 10-inch round cake pan (or 9-inch) and line bottom with parchment paper. Set aside.
    3. Punch dough risen dough and transfer to a lightly floured work surface. Roll dough out to a 21 x 12-inch rectangle. Evenly spread ube paste over rolled dough, leaving an 1/2-inch border along the sides.
    4. Starting at the longer end, roll dough into a log. Pinch seams together and place log seam-side down on work surface. Use a sharp knife to slice log in half lengthwise, leaving about 1-inch uncut on top.
    5. Carefully twist the two pieces to allow the filling to face up. Gently braid the two pieces together. Take the two ends and pinch together to form a circle. Place in prepared cake pan. Cover and allow dough to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes until dough has puffed up.
    6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove cover and bake dough for 40 minutes. If dough is browning too fast, cover with foil to prevent bread from burning. Rotate pan and bake for another 15-20 minutes, until internal temperature of dough registers at least 185 degrees F on a kitchen thermometer. Allow bread to remain in pan for 15 minutes before unmolding. Allow bread to cool on wire rack. Serve bread warm, toasted, or at room temperature.

    Dough slightly adapted from Bake From Scratch

    The Little Epicurean

    Ube Swirl Bread (Purple Yam)

    · · · ·
    Never Miss a Recipe!

    Plus, get exclusive recipes, tips, and previews through our weekly newsletter.

    Daily Blog Posts
    Weekly Updates

    Leave a Comment

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


    Dorothy at Shockingly Delicious

    The colors are beautiful! I have never tried yam paste, but I now want too!

      Maryanne Cabrera

      Thanks so much! It’s hard to believe the colors are all natural!

    Jessica | The Novice Chef

    What a gorgeous braid! Definitely need to try using Ube!

    Renee - Kudos Kitchen

    Oh my gosh! What a beautiful bread and not one I’ve ever seen before (with your use of ingredients). Your step-by-step photo tutorial is wonderful too. Makes this bread less intimidating to recreate. Kudos!

    Amanda | The Chunky Chef

    What a simply stunning bread!! I can’t get over the purple color :)

      Maryanne Cabrera

      Thank you! It’s hard to believe the purple color is all natural! :)

    cathy @ noble pig

    Just when you think you’ve tried everything something new and delicious pops up. Love this.

    Milena | craftbeering.com

    So gorgeous! A few years ago I ate a pastry in Vietnam that looked almost as purple as the ume paste, but the entire thing was colored purple:) It tasted very good, perhaps overly sweet, but looked shocking… Your swirl bread looks unbelievably beautiful!

    Lauren @ Hall Nesting

    I almost want to serve this today because it looks perfect for Mardi Gras

    Jessica @ Sprinkle Some Sugar

    I LOVEEE that purple swirl!!