Quarantine Baking Adventures with Ube Rolls

Are you baking at home as much as I am in quarantine these days? Today’s bake involved baking a batch of cinnamon rolls with ube filling (ube is a Filipino purple yam) rather than the traditional cinnamon-butter filling. It’s currently week five of my time sheltering-in-place. A common phrase I’ve said over the past few weeks is, “times are weird.” Living in Des Moines, I experienced waking up to snow yesterday. Today, it’s a breezy 60ºF. My patio door is open and the sun is shining in as I listen to beautiful voices streaming on the One World: Together at Home concert.

My New Life

Times are weird not only because of COVID-19 or the weather, but life. I’ve not been in Des Moines for long (about six months now), so that was already a big change. If I don’t know you personally, I moved here from my hometown of St. Louis for my current job as associate digital food editor for Better Homes & Gardens. (It’s the type of job I used to only dream of and still can’t believe it’s real life.) While I’m fortunate to be still working from my new home in West Des Moines with my two cats, I’ve written about fun stuff like the viral dalgona whipped coffee and mesmerizing cake decorating videos. Though let’s be real—I would’ve done these things anyway.

When I’m not working, I’ve been bingeing TV, puzzling, and I even cut my own hair! But mostly, I’ve been cooking and baking. So. Much. Baking. And it’s a dangerous thing to bake so much when you live alone. My freezer is packed with baked treats!

Making Cinnamon Rolls with Ube Filling

Today, I woke up and decided to make cinnamon rolls. I had every intention of making BHG’s famous cinnamon roll recipe from my BHG New Cook Book (aka my work bible) as is. But as I started rolling out the dough, I decided to change things up. Instead of filling the bread with the usual butter and cinnamon-sugar combo, I opted for the jar of ube in my pantry. I usually have that on reserve for (my fave) halo-halo, but decided this was an opportunity to get creative. I whipped up some purple yam jam and butter (and a hint of coconut extract) before spreading it on my rolled dough with some brown sugar.

Instead of cinnamon-sugar and butter, my cinnamon rolls with ube filling contained ½ cup ube jam with 3 Tbsp. butter and ⅛ tsp. coconut extract.

Ube doesn’t have a prominent flavor on it’s own, so there’s not a huge difference in flavor for these sweet buns. If I were to do this again, I’d probably up the ube amount and maybe even add some ube flavoring in there for a more flavor and purple color. Check out the BHG recipe if you’re wanting a real cinnamon roll treat. It’s secret ingredient is a cup of mashed potato—which gives it an amazing texture. I need to work on tightening my pastry rolling skills a bit, but I’m always learning. The point of me writing about today’s bake is to encourage you to have fun with whatever ingredients you have!

Go Forth and Bake!

Being able to stay home during this time is a luxury, so please do stay home. Support local businesses by ordering takeout or buying gift cards. Donate what you can to relief organizations like Feeding America. Say thanks to healthcare and grocery store workers.

Wash your hands and stay safe!