Soft and fluffy ube bread rolls filled with ube halaya and frosted with sweet cream cheese.
What is ube?
This your one stop shop for all things ube!
Search The Little Epicurean and Love, Filipino Food for our growing collection of ube recipes including: iced ube latte, ube cheese pandesal, ube pancakes, and ube milk bread.
Filipino Purple Yam Bread Rolls
This is a colorful, exciting, and intriguing cinnamon roll variation.
These sweet rolls feature:
- a soft yeast dough lightly flavored with coconut milk
- creamy ube halaya filling (intensified with a touch of ube extract)
- sweet ube cream cheese frosting
The unfrosted rolls are not very sweet. If you prefer your breads less sweet, I highly recommend trying this ube swirl bread.
If you like your rolls sweet, then go ahead and frost as much of the ube cream cheese as you’d like! The frosting is responsible for much of the bread’s sweetness.
Yeast Dough Ingredients
This recipe starts with an easy to make enriched dough.
It’s made with all your standard bread ingredients with ONE EXCEPTION.
This recipe uses coconut milk instead of milk or additional water. The coconut adds a touch of flavor.
You may certainly sub in your choice of milk or non-dairy milk alternative.
Working with Yeast
Yeast is a vital ingredient to these ube bread rolls.
Yeast requires three things to grow and thrive: 1.) moisture, 2.) warm temperature, and 3.) sugar.
When you are aware of these three variables, working with yeast becomes a breeze!
There are two common varieties of yeast widely available at supermarkets: active dry yeast and instant yeast.
I recommend active dry yeast. Active dry yeast requires ”activation” before it can be mixed with other ingredients.
This extra step ensures that the yeast is alive and able to do its job. Check out the post below for more detailed information.
Use a Stand Mixer for Easy Dough Mixing
I highly recommend using a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment. A stand mixer cuts the dough mixing time in half.
- Start by combining all the wet ingredients in the mixing bowl (activated yeast, coconut milk, egg, and sugar).
- Add half of the flour mixture (flour and salt). Mix together until the mixture looks like the ”shaggy” stage in the image above.
- At this point, slowly add softened butter one tablespoon at a time. Add remaining flour mixture and together until well combined.
- Increase to medium speed and knead dough together. Eventually, the dough will pull away from the sides of the bowl.
The kneaded dough should be soft, smooth, and supple.
Don’t have a stand mixer? No need to fret. The dough may also be mixed by hand.
Working the dough by hand takes a bit of extra time and effort. However, it can be done!
Signs that Dough is Kneaded Enough
- Smooth dough (like the image above)
- Dough springs back (press and indent your finger into the dough. it should spring back!)
- Holds round shape (dough is able to maintain round ball space without falling flat)
General Kneading Times
Kneading usually takes about 5 minutes on medium speed in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment.
It takes a bit longer when kneading by hand. By the time you are finished working the dough, you should be tired.
It will takes about 10-12 minutes to knead the dough by hand.
What is ube halaya?
Ube halaya is also known as ube jam or halayang ube.
It is a cooked dish made from boiled mashed purple yam, milk (usually sweetened condensed milk and coconut milk), butter, and a generous amount of sugar.
It is generally served cold as a dessert or used as a filling or flavor for other desserts such this ube chiffon cake.
Fresh purple yam is very difficult to find in the contiguous United States. America’s climate isn’t suitable for this tropical tuber.
Ube Halaya Options
Filipino supermarkets carry a variety of different ube halaya options.
They are often sold in glass jars labeled as purple yam jam, sweet purple yam spread, or purple yam pudding.
Color and sweetness varies depending on the brand.
Out of the two brands photographed above, I recommend the Bayanihan brand. I prefer it’s flavor, texture, and vibrant color.
I like to add a touch of ube extract to ube halaya to further intensify the flavor.
Proofing the Ube Rolls
Can you see the difference between the before and after proofing images above?
Initially, the rolls are petite and tightly coiled. After enough rest, the rolls will puff up and expand.
This process is called proofing.
“Proofing” refers to the final rise of dough after it has been shaped.
Humidity and temperature are two vital components when proofing dough.
Yeast likes warm, humid environments.
Commercial bakers often use proof boxes to ensure their dough can rise at the optimal temperature and humidity.
For home use, I suggest finding the warmest place in the house. That varies from house to house. Perhaps it’s the garage, over the microwave, next to the refrigerator, or next to the television.
Yeasted dough rise best at a room temperature of 75 degrees F.
If your trying to bake in the dead of the winter and your house isn’t warm enough for the dough, you could use an electric home proof box or check the settings of your oven.
Several ovens and counter ovens now have “proof settings” like this Wolf countertop oven. Or, you could transform your standard oven into your own proof box!
The secret step for super soft and fluffy rolls
Mid 2022, I stumbled upon the viral Tiktok trend of adding heavy cream to store-bought Pillsbury cinnamon rolls before baking.
The resulting cinnamon rolls bake up softer, fluffier, and much tastier.
Instead of heavy cream, these ube bread rolls use coconut milk!
The moisture and fat from coconut milk makes these rolls so soft and flavorful!
If you don’t have coconut milk, you may swap in heavy cream, half and half, or whole milk.
Make Ahead Option: Overnight Bread Rolls
Make the dough the night before serving.
Complete all the steps of the dough recipe. Continue to follow the instructions of the filling portion up until STEP 3.
Cover the cut rolls with plastic wrap. Place in the fridge to slow proof overnight.
The following morning, remove the rolls from the fridge.
Keep covered. Let the chilled rolls sit at room temperature for about 45 minutes (sometimes longer up to 3 hours, depending on the ambient temperature) until the dough is no longer cold.
At this point, the dough should have puffed up!
Bake at directed.
Ube Cream Cheese Frosting
The sweet, luscious frosting is a combination of cream cheese, butter, ube halaya, coconut milk, and powdered sugar.
Feel free to use standard vanilla cream cheese frosting. A simple glaze is also fantastic. Or, simply omit the frosting all together!
The ube bread rolls are fantastic on their own. One thing to note- much of the sweetness comes from the frosting.
The rolls will be very light on the sweet scale without the frosting.
Storing Leftovers and Reheating Notes
Fresh baked rolls may be left covered at room temperature for 24 hours.
Once frosted, they may be left at room temperature for 10-12 hours. After that time, the frosted rolls should be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days.
The ube bread rolls may be reheated in the microwave or toaster oven.
To reheat in the microwave, place one bread roll on a microwave safe plate along with a mug filled with about a quarter to half cup of water. Cook for 20 second intervals until bread is soft and warm.
*The cup of water will prevent the bread from getting gummy and dense!
Alternatively, reheat rolls in a toaster oven until warm.
Ube Bread Rolls
- ½ cup warm water, (113 g) about 110°F
- 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast (7 g)
- ¼ cup granulated sugar (50 g)
- ½ cup well-shaken canned coconut milk (120 g)
- 1 large egg , room temp
- 4 cups all-purpose flour (520 g)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter (84 g), softened, room temp
- ½ cup ube halaya (180 g)
- ½ teaspoon ube extract, optional
- ¼ cup well-shaken coconut milk (60 g), reserve for pouring over proofed rolls
- 4 oz block style cream cheese (113 g)
- ¼ cup unsalted butter (57 g) softened, room temp
- 2 Tablespoons ube halaya (40 g)
- 1 ½ cups unsifted powdered sugar (175 g)
- 2 Tablespoons well-shaken coconut milk (30 g)
- ½ teaspoon ube extract , optional
- Dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in warm water. Stir until well combined. Let sit for 5-7 minutes to activate yeast. Mixture should foam and smell like beer.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together activated yeast mixture, remaining sugar, coconut milk, and egg.
- Whisk salt into flour. Add half of flour mixture to mixing bowl. Use dough hook attachment to combine ingredients. Knead on low speed while adding softened butter one tablespoon at a time. Add remaining flour and mix on low speed until dough comes together.
- Increase to medium speed. Knead until dough is smooth and clears the sides of the bowl, about 5 minutes.
- Transfer dough to a lightly greased bowl. Cover bowl with reusable silicone lid (or with plastic wrap). Keep at room temperature until double has doubled in volume, about 1 hour.*
- Punch dough risen dough. Transfer dough to a clean working surface. Roll dough into a 20×14-inch rectangle.
- If desired, mix optional ube extract into ube halaya.
- Spread ube halaya evenly all over the rolled dough.
- Starting at the long side, roll dough into a log. Slice log into 12 equal parts. Place rolls into a greased 9×13-inch baking pan (quarter sheet pan size).
- Cover with reusable lid or plastic warp. Let rest at room temperature until rolls have risen and puffed up, about 45 minutes.*
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove cover or plastic wrap from rolls. Pour reserved coconut milk over roll. Bake for 30-35 minutes, rotating pan midway through baking. Bake until rolls are golden brown on top and the internal temperature of the bread rolls registers at least 185°F. Let rolls rest for 10 minutes before topping with frosting.
- Beat together cream cheese, butter, and ube halaya until smooth. Add powdered sugar, coconut milk, and ube extract. Beat until smooth and well combined.
- Spread frosting over warm rolls.
- Yeast: Active dry yeast is recommended. Detailed instructions for yeast in this baking with yeast post.
- Coconut milk: Use full-fat canned unsweetened coconut milk for best flavor. Alternatively, use any milk or milk alternative such as cow’s milk, oat milk, almond milk, etc.
- Ube halaya: Also known as ube jam or halayang ube. It is a cooked dish made from boiled, mashed purple yam, milk, butter, and sugar. This can be purchased at Filipino super markets or large Asian supermarkets. Or, make it from scratch.
- Ube extract: Available for purchase through Amazon. Widely available at Filipino and Asian supermarkets. Find it in the baking section. Look for the McCormick or Butterfly brand.
- Humidity and temperature greatly affects how long it takes for the dough to rise. It may take longer than estimated time in recipe for dough to rise during winter or in cold surroundings.
- Yeast likes warm, humid environments.
- Yeasted dough rise best at a room temperature of 75 degrees F.
- To reheat in the microwave: place one bun on a microwave safe plate along with a mug filled with about 1/2 cup water. Cook for 20 second intervals until bread is soft and warm. (the water will prevent the bread from getting gummy)
- Alternatively, reheat rolls in a toaster oven until warm.
Interested in more cinnamon roll variations? Try these favorites:
- Cookies and Cream Rolls covered with cream cheese and chopped Oreo cookies.
- Funfetti Cinnamon Rolls are studded with fun colorful confetti sprinkles throughout!
- Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls topped with brown sugar cream cheese frosting and toasted walnuts.
Reader Questions and Reviews
In Step 5 it says to pour coconut milk over the rolls. Is this referring to the quarter cup listed under Fillings in the ingredients list?
Yes, pour the 1/4 cup coconut milk over the proofed rolled right before baking.