Saturday 4 October 2014


It has been four years since I've started this blog and it has been a wonderful journey. I thank everyone who often come to visit, those who leave comments, those who cook from the recipe and those who do and come back to tell me about it. The blog has become a big part of my life and I am very thankful for it.

Since I started the blog, there has been a lot of major changes in my life. I have taken breaks but have always yearned to return to blogging. After the recent passing of my husband, people I've met through the blog has been a large part of my support force. I am really grateful that I have this blog, this one thing in my life that will always be positive. 

To celebrate, I chose a recipe that brings me back to the tastes of my childhood. Where milk and egg collides, I willingly step in the middle to catch the full brunt of its deliciousness. My love for custard never diminished as I grew up, even as I grew older. No cake would be more apt for MY celebration than yema cake.

When I was a little girl, my father had a small poultry at the back of our house. Aside from having fresh chickens to eat, we also had a steady ration of freshly laid eggs. I was the only child then so that means, between the three of us we had a LOT of eggs to eat. Back then, nobody said that it was not good to have so much eggs.

Filipinos love eggs. Egg is an ingredient often added to dishes, whether sweet or savoury, to enrich. Having rich eggy desserts is a heritage of the Spaniards. Yema, literally means egg yolks, but in the Filipino language it refers to a sweet made with a lot of egg yolks. I am very partial to this taste. It is an extra rich, very thick, custard, often rolled into balls and coated with sugar or a caramel shell. A dish is very special when there is a lot of egg yolks called for.

Yema cake was named after the sweet. It is a recent trend but it actually is almost the same as an old fashioned swiss roll called brazo dela reina (meaning the queen's arm, the same as brazo de mercedes but has a swiss roll instead of meringue for the cake base). The difference is that the custard is thinner and is used as an icing rather than just a filling.

The cake layers are classic pillowy chiffon. The softness and moistness of the layer cake goes so well with the gooey, rich custard frosting. The custard icing is not set and oozes off the cake when sliced, although it sets more the longer it is refrigerated. The mixture of evaporated and condensed milk makes the custard very creamy, rich with a tantalising gooey consistency. It is a very simple cake yet the taste is so special. It is rich yet delicate. Subtle yet very tasteful. A smile breaks at the first mouthful. I thought of my father's poultry and how many yema cakes all those yolks could have been made into. I thought of my mother and remembered that she loved anything with custard, too and that it was she who introduced the taste to me. I remembered how much custard has been a part of all the celebrations in my life. If there was one cake to celebrate my life, it is the yema cake.

Ingredients for the cake:

1 c. plain flour
2 tbsps. corn flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. oil
4 eggs, separated
1/4 c. water
2 tbsps. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar


Pre-heat the oven to 350°F /180°C. Line the bottom of two 9" diameter cake pans with baking paper. Set aside. 

Sift the flour, corn flour, baking powder, salt and 6 tbsps. of the sugar in a mixing bowl. 

Make a well in the center and to it add the egg yolks, oil, water and lemon juice.

Gently mix with a whisk, beginning from the center and slowly incorporating the dry ingredients in. Mix until smooth and well blended.

Add the cream of tartar to the egg whites and beat with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Add the rest of the sugar gradually, while beating, until the mixture is stiff but not dry. 

Add of dollop egg white mixture to the egg yolk mixture and blend. This will slacken the egg yolk mixture and will make it easier to combine the two mixtures. 

Add all of the egg yolk mixture to the rest of the egg white mixture and fold gently until well combined. 

Divide the mixture into the 2 prepared baking pans and bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.

Invert into baking racks and cool in the pans.

Ingredients for the custard icing:

12 egg yolks
1/2 c. condensed milk
3/4 c. evaporated milk 
1/4 c. flour
1 tsp. vanilla
1/3 c. unsalted butter


TIP: Separate your eggs in small bowl separately so that if you accidentally break the yolk, you don't taint the whole bowl of whites.

Put the egg yolks and the two kinds of milk in a bowl. Sift the flour over the mixture and blend in.

Strain into a double boiler or heavy saucepan.

Cook on gentle heat while stirring constantly until steam starts to come off the mixture and the raw flour taste is gone. The mixture will should be medium thick. Drizzle a bit of custard on its surface. It should leave a trail that stays for a few seconds before settling. Turn off the heat, then continue to whisk for 5 more minutes. The mixture cooks further at this stage. Do not overcook as this will make the custard too sticky.

Add the vanilla. Add the cold butter a little at a time, whisking after each addition. The custard icing will have the consistency of thick custard. 

Transfer to bowl. Place a sheet of baking paper on the surface to prevent skin from forming. 

Refrigerate. The custard will thicken upon refrigeration. It will not look like spreadable icing but because it has a gooey texture, it drapes the cake. 

To assemble:

Before starting to assemble the cake, brush off any loose crumbs from the cake layers using a pastry brush.

Put one cake layer on a serving dish.

Top with about 1 c. of custard and spread evenly.

Top with the other cake layer.

Spread a thin coat of the custard on the top and sides of the cake as crumb coat. Refrigerate for 30minutes to 1 hour. This will make a neater finish to your cake as it seals all the crumbs in.

Put the rest of the custard on the cake and spread evenly on the top and sides. The custard, though not of spreadable consistency, will cling to the cake. It has a characteristic slight puddle around the bottom edges. 

Refrigerate before serving.

You can decorate the cake as you wish when the custard icing is fully set.

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