Yema Cake Recipe

Image of a piece of yema cake with strawberry slices


Yield: 12 servings

Chiffon Cake

  • 2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour or 2 1/8 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 large room-temperature eggs, yolks and whites separated
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon good-quality vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup neutral oil, like canola or vegetable

Custard Filling and Frosting


  • 1/2 cup grated strong-tasting cheese like provolone or Asiago


Instructions for the Chiffon Cake

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of a 13x9-inch pan with parchment paper. Lightly spray the parchment paper with non-stick spray but not the sides of the pan; otherwise the cake won't rise as high. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together sifted cake flour or all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. Sift again to make sure batter will be silky smooth. Set aside.
  3. In a separate large bowl, place 6 egg yolks, 1/4 cup sugar, milk, and vanilla and beat on low until smooth. Add the sifted dry ingredients and continue beating on low speed until well blended. Set aside.
  4. In a separate medium, grease-free bowl, whip together 6 egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy. Add 1 cup sugar gradually in a fine stream and whip until the egg whites are stiff, holding a firm peak, but not dry.
  5. Stir 1/2 cup egg whites into the batter to lighten it. Then carefully fold in the remaining egg white mixture trying not to deflate the volume. In a fine stream, add the oil, folding carefully until fully incorporated.
  6. Transfer batter to the prepared pan and bake 35 to 40 minutes or until toothpick tests clean. Remove from oven and place on wire rack. Cool completely in the pan. Run a knife around the edges of the cake, invert it onto a wire rack and remove the parchment paper.

Instructions for the Custard Filling and Frosting

  1. In the top of a double boiler, combine evaporated milk, condensed milk, and 6 egg yolks.
  2. Cook, stirring constantly, over simmering, not boiling, water until the custard coats the back of a spoon but is still pourable. This can take 10 minutes or so.
  3. Let the custard cool slightly before assembling the cake.

Assembling the Yema Cake

  1. Slice the completely cooled chiffon cake in half horizontally. Place the bottom half on a serving plate. Pour 1/3 of the cooled custard on the bottom half of the cut cake. Replace the top half and pour the remaining custard over the entire top and sides of the cake. The custard will drip down the sides somewhat but this is OK.
  2. Sprinkle the grated cheese on top. Chill until ready to serve. Coffee or tea and fresh berries go well with the dessert.

Yema Cake Is a Popular Filipino Dessert

Yema is the Tagalog word for "egg yolks" and can refer to a popular candy or cake. In the case of a cake, it is traditionally rectangular in shape and made with a light chiffon batter. The baked cake is then filled and coated with a pourable custard and served chilled. A surprising touch is the addition of a grated pungent cheese on top of the cake to cut the sweetness.

Legend has it yema was created in Quezon Province (not Quezon city) by locals looking for a way to use the sheer abundance of egg yolks left from the eggshells and egg whites used as building mortar by Spanish colonizers. Frugal cooks developed egg-yolk desserts like uraro (a type of cookie), flan, and yema.

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Yema Cake Recipe