An Attempt At Binging With Babish’s Ube Roll

Athena ScalziDid that look super difficult or what?! I certainly thought it did, which is why I was hesitant about making this dessert. I knew I had to put aside my reluctance and just go for it. What was the worst that could happen?

So, I started by looking for the ingredients on Amazon, because I had a feeling the Dollar General in town wouldn’t have powdered ube. I wasn’t sure what kind to buy, so I watched through the video and paused when I saw his package of powdered ube, and just bought the exact same kind. Luckily, the one I bought actually came bundled with a McCormick brand tiny bottle of ube flavor, which I also needed. This bundle was thirteen dollars. I also had to buy violet food coloring, which was six dollars for a small bottle.

Other than those oddities, everything else needed is super standard ingredients that most people already have on hand. Except maybe the cake flour, but that’s not too terribly hard to acquire. I will say, though, that you need a full dozen eggs for this recipe, so if you’re like me and break yolks when trying to separate, or are just clumsy and drop one on the floor, buy an 18 pack of eggs instead of just a dozen. Leave room for mistakes.

Once I had acquired all the ingredients, I got to work and started by mixing the powdered ube with boiling water, resulting in this purple paste.

Dark purple paste in a white bowl. The end of a wooden spoon sits in the paste.

Then I combined the eggs, sugar, flour, rehydrated ube, ube flavoring, vegetable oil, and food coloring together in a stand mixer. Unsurprisingly, it came out purple.

A silver bowl filled with lilac colored batter.

This batter looked to be the same color as Babish’s end result roll, so I thought I was off to a strong start. I did find it odd how the batter was sort of frothy, though. I’ve never really seen a batter be foamy before, unless it has yeast in it, but this didn’t, so it was a little off-putting.

Babish says to put the batter on a quarter sheet pan (a 9×13 baking sheet), but I don’t have one of those, so I opted for this glass casserole dish that is also 9×13. I had a feeling this would alter the bake time, since it didn’t get to spread out quite as thinly.

A glass baking dish filled with the purple batter.

The recipe says to let it bake for 10-15 minutes, but mine ended up baking for twenty before I decided it was about as done as it was gonna get.

It came out not quite right, to say the least.

A purple spongy looking cake in a glass baking dish.

Why was it so spongy? And sticky? And grossly colored?

I flipped it over onto a plate and started to peel off the parchment paper, but kept tearing the cake apart because it was so stuck to the paper. My dad ended up getting the paper off far more cleanly than I was, and here was the bottom-side of it.

The purple cake flipped over, revealing the strangely greenish grey underside.

Bruh. It looked like a sheet of seaweed. And it had so many weird lines in it?! I was disheartened. But I figured buttercream could save the day, so I started on that.

I’ve never actually made buttercream before, so I was shocked to learn about the inclusion of eggs in it. The recipe says to combine the ingredients (except the butter) in a bowl and put it over a pot of simmering water until the mixture reaches 160 degrees. Well, I still don’t have a thermometer, so I didn’t know how hot it was, but eventually I got bored of waiting and figured I’d risk the potential salmonella. So I put the mixture into the stand mixer and whipped the hell out of it until it looked like this.

A stand mixer, the bowl of which is filled with white meringue, the whisk attachment pulling it in a soft peak.

After adding all four sticks of butter, it looked like this!

The silver stand mixer bowl, filled with what looks like extra fluffy butter.

It honestly just looked like super fluffy butter, and I half expected it to just taste purely like butter since there was a whole four sticks in it, but it actually tasted so good I could hardly believe I made it. It was better than any icing I’d ever made before, or any icing I’d ever had, for that matter. It was dangerously delicious.

So, I got my ugly little cake ready to roll.

The purple cake, laid out on a green silicone sheet.

And rolled it did! Without cracking, I might add!

The purple cake, rolled up and filled with buttercream.

As you can see, it is significantly darker than it’s supposed to be, and also browner. And also has weird spots and marking all over it. This bitch was UGLY.

Also, I overstuffed it.

The ube roll cut in half to reveal the cross section.

You can barely see the swirl of cake with how much buttercream I loaded into this bad boy.

So, it was definitely not perfect, appearance-wise. But how did it taste? I don’t really have a reference for how it’s supposed to taste, but it wasn’t half bad! The cake was a little too dense and chewy, but it sort of tasted coconut-y and was very mild flavor. It was mostly just overwhelmingly buttercream-y. But, not horrific for my first attempt, I’d say.

Charlie would say, too.

Me holding a slice of the ube roll above Charlie, who is looking up at it hopefully.

Have you tried making this before? Would you try a slice? Let me know your thoughts in the comments, and have a great day!


32 Comments on “An Attempt At Binging With Babish’s Ube Roll”

  1. Guinea Pig Tester review: I thought it was good, and the buttercream frosting was indeed astoundingly addictive. There was a little too much of it in the ube roll, however. I suggested next time it should be a little more thinly spread.

  2. I mean, I know it wasn’t the goal, but I kinda like how it looks.

    Has a bit of a van Gogh/Starry Night feeling.

  3. I enjoyed your post. Perhaps the cake was overcooked, thus the color.

    Did you get a purple tongue from it?

  4. My daughter has a favorite whoopie pie recipe, and we’ve learned that it makes more than twice as much frosting as needed. (The frosting is a simple Fluff/powdered sugar combo.) Sounds like your recipe also makes too much.

  5. On the Buttercream, one way to do it heat the eggs and sugar stirring until the sugar has melted, that tends to happen at the same temp. Other option is to buy pasteurized eggs or egg whites.

  6. Nice job, Athena! A rolled cake like that isn’t easy to handle, and you did beautifully with it.

    May I offer a suggestion that you might consider if you try this recipe again?

    You can buy a non-stick version of tinfoil that has a silicon coating on one side, and it is an absolute godsend for cooking sticky foods. It’s also a lot easier to get tinfoil smooth across the bottom and tucked into the corners of a pan than it is to do that with parchment paper. Non-stick tinfoil is considerably more costly than the regular kind, but for sticky baked goods, it can be worth every penny.

    Another trick that my late aunt taught me many decades ago was to cut a piece of waxed paper to exactly fit inside the bottom of the cake pan. It shouldn’t go up the sides; you need to use something like cooking spray and flour on the sides. Once the cooled cake is flipped out of the pan, the waxed paper will peel off quite easily in my experience. When I make a pumpkin roll-up cake (similar method to your recipe here), I line the sheet pan with waxed paper and the cake comes out perfectly every time.

    Now, all that said, in the long run, the only thing that really matters is how it tastes, and from your description (plus your dad’s comments), it sounds like you nailed that part.

    Have fun baking, Athena – I look forward to seeing what you decide to try next!

  7. Did Charlie get to be a guinea pig tester too? I’m sure they would volunteer…

  8. I think part of the problem with the cake is that you used a glass dish rather than a metal sheet pan. Glass is slow to heat and then retains the heat longer. It’s probably why you had to bake the cake for a longer time than the recipe called for, and why came out darker and with a different texture than you were expecting. If you’re going to bake a lot more often, you should get some metal cake pans and sheet trays because they work best for that kind of baked good. Save the glass dish for casseroles or cobblers/pies.

  9. Clearly this cake is just an excuse to eat buttercream, and I respect that.

  10. I don’t generally comment but I have to say you did a terrific job on the rolling, which is usually the hardest and most likely to fail part. Especially since it wasn’t frosted — I’ve had a lot of practice covering up cracks in a Yule Log, but nobody has complained yet about extra chocolate frosting!

    I wanted to let you know (in case you hadn’t read about it) that the dried blueberries you used a few weeks ago are being recalled due to excess lead. I saw the photo of the bag and it took me awhile to recall where I had seen it.

  11. I was surprised at the cost of the ingredients – and then I remember what I spend on nice yarns for knitting. Looks like you’re having fun!

  12. I suggest that if you have to shop for ube then you might as well shop for that thermometer as well. Maybe you could get a few baking sheets as well?

  13. Good first attempt. Probably a good idea to make a short list of ‘adjustments’ to try next time.

    I’ve seldom cooked anything that came out perfect on first try. Adjust, try, learn, try again. I now have a ‘core’ list of things I can do well in my sleep – keeps me fed while I try new things ;-)

  14. after carefully considering the ingredients my reaction is locate a cardiac specialist in your area… how many eggs? 12? or 16? butter too? sugar? I can see how the table was buckling under the load of all that fat-sugar-cholesterol… if it was apportioned for three people across a week that’s 2,013,105 +/-65 calories per serving

    since I care about your family, I volunteer to throw myself on that ticking timebomb of hedonistic overkill to allow you-all to escape an inevitable triple bypass

    (to paraphrase Kermit the Frog, it ain’t easy being purple)

  15. almost forgot…

    if you plan to do a lot of rolling up of baked goods and/or homemade sushi there are bamboo mats which aid in the process by supporting the food/material being rolled

  16. That recipe looks amazing! And roll cakes are so challenging to make– good first try!

    Based on the appearance of your batter and the final cake, I’d guess that you might have mixed the whipped egg whites into the yolk/flour/ube mixture too vigorously. It’s the air bubbles in the whipped egg whites that create all the rising action in a sponge cake like that, so you have to fold them into the batter really, REALLY gently so you don’t deflate them.

  17. Getting the correct pan helps. Also, when I bake with parchment, I cut a piece length wise and a piece width wise. Makes it easier. And, as others have said, sometimes buttercream recipes make more than necessary. You can make tea cakes and frost them. Good for you for tackling this.

  18. I’m not a proponent of scribbling in every book, but I do write in cookbooks so I have a record of what I tried and what I substituted or what adjustments to try next time or what to never attempt again. Perhaps if you print off the recipes you try you could jot on the paper? Or if you keep a file of YouTube videos you could have accompanying note files? Either way, well done you. I’m considering trying this –

  19. Buttercream is hard to do! And without a thermometer! Count that a win. I don’t have anything to add to the great recommendations for fixing the cake. Good luck next time!
    And @wiredog, thermapens rock. I also recommended ATK for the pie crust a while ago.

  20. I discovered buttercream from The Cake Bible, a book in which every recipe is precise, delicious, and well explained. But her recipe for burnt silk orange meringue buttercream is wildly over the top – you caramelize sugar 3 different times, it’s part buttercream, part Italian meringue, and while it is possibly the greatest icing I have ever tried, I do not make it. Ganache. I am all about ganache. Simple, delicious, and perfectly unhealthy as an icing should be. Kudos to you on this roll cake, I made one once and have never done it again.

  21. Rolling without breaking is the hardest part, in my experience, so go you!

    I’m not a huge fan of buttercream generally so I usually sub with something I like when it’s called for, but it sounds like you guys don’t have that hang up!

  22. one thing my wife and i learned a few years ago, from babish no less!, was that a meat type thermometer solves all kitchen and a host of other temperature reading problems, for about $20, and you can just click a button on amazon and have one in a day or two. totally worth filling that little hole in your cooking – once you get a really good, fast reading digital thermometer, you will really wonder why you ever bothered to cook without one.

  23. That looks really good for a first rolled cake! I love this kind of buttercream so I would not object to the ratio of cream to cake.

    As for the texture of the cake, I’m going to agree with some folks up-thread that it looks like your batter lost the air somewhere – either the whites got beaten down too much or didn’t get beaten enough to start. (In the video it looks like it comes off his spatula in a ribbon rather than a drip, that’s a good texture.)

    If you’re not up for investing in a Thermapen (they are expensive) you might want to consider a laser thermometer. It’s exactly as cool as it sounds – a laser gun that takes the temperature of stuff without touching it. That’s what I prefer to use for beating egg whites over simmering water, one less thing in the bowl. It’s also useful for finding hot and cold spots in the house, and it works as a cat toy too! I think mine was about $30, and I used it to settle an argument at work about exactly how cold my office was.

    I’m loving your cooking experiments, they’re very inspiring!

  24. In case you do more baking with glass pans: I find that cake-type items do better at lower temperature and slightly_shorter_ bake times in my glass pans versus metal ones. 25F cooler, and 5% shorter time. This will vary depending on whether you have light or dark finish metal pans. Mine are light color.
    Meanwhile, I have never made a neatly rolled cake, so congratulations. (I just cover any flaws with frosting.)

  25. I’m impressed that you tackle making complicated baked goods-you’re a brave person!

    But I third the Thermapen recommendation. I’ve been cooking and baking for many years, and my Thermapen is the best thermometer I’ve ever used. The company has discounts all the time, especially on discontinued colors (my current one is orange, and I have a purple backup) and sometimes you get a little bit of candy in the package.

  26. Re: Egg temperature.

    You nailed it – the cooking isn’t just for salmonella reasons, you’re cooking the protein in the egg white so the meringue sets up. The fact that you got that gorgeous, glossy, stable foam means you hit the right temp.

  27. I’ve never made anything with ube, but if you want to try another roll my suggestion is to make a chocolate roulade. It’s a dessert that looks elegant and difficult but it’s absolutely one of the easiest things ever to make and delicious. I picked up the recipe from Julia (Child) and Jaques (Pepin) Cook at Home. There’s also a video of them making it, which I’m sure is online. It shouldn’t be that hard to google the it and/or the recipe. Essentially all it is is beaten egg whites mixed with melted chocolate (your basic souffle ingredients), baked on a well-buttered pan and parchment paper, then it’s spread with creme Chantilly (aka whipped cream with powdered sugar, vanilla, and cognac, although I have been known to sub Frangelico) and then rolled. Even if you go wrong, you still can’t go wrong, because it’s whipped cream and chocolate, two of the most delicious foodstuffs ever.

  28. This made me laugh, esp. your lyrical descriptions. Go you! Plus, you both liked the buttercream, so emphasise the positives.

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