Everyone, and we mean, everyone with a functioning Internet connection has craved, tried, or talked about the ube cheese pandesal one way or another this quarantine. But, in life, even before the pandemic, every trend comes and goes--including food. And so, before you say this quarantine fare had its time, we tried our hands into making this official quarantine merienda and here's how you can also do it yourself.

/ 10 September 2020

Being on lockdown taught us to not take things for granted. When the hustle of life suddenly has taken a pause, we’re left to find fulfilling things and new hobbies without going out, thus populating our feeds with a number of trends that make up our lives in the new normal. Many of us explored new hobbies like painting and reading books again, the inevitable streaming binge, crossing over to the life of a plantito and plantita, while others dabbled into a rekindled or newfound affair in the kitchen. But like in pre-pandemic life, all trends come and go, even in food that we all want to get our crumby paws into.

More than the benefit of learning a new skill, eating something you baked yourself is, in itself, an accomplishment, especially now that most of us had nothing else to do at home. It might be small, but it’s more enjoyable to eat the fruits…err baked goods of your labor.

More than cookies and fluffy muffins, bakers can take on the challenge of baking bread. One of the most popular bread recipes that emerged during the quarantine is the ube cheese pandesal. Everyone, and we mean, everyone with a functioning Internet connection has craved, tried, or talked about this one way or the other. But before you say this quarantine fare had its time, we tried our hands into making this official Pinoy quarantine merienda, with a little help from the Internet.


Ingredients to prepare:

  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
  • 6 tablespoons white granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup warm milk
  • 1/2 cup mashed cooked ube
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons liquid ube flavoring
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, for kneading
  • 1/2 pound Velvetta cheese (or any quick melt cheese), cut into 14 two-inch and 1/4-inch thick squares
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs


Step #1: Making your ube (purple yam)

Having freshly made ube can make it more flavorful, but having a grated or ube halaya works great, too. 

  • Fresh ube: Place one medium-sized purple yam and enough water to cover in a saucepan and cook over medium heat. Check if it’s fork tender before draining and cooling. Peel the yam and mash it with a fork until smooth. Use ½ cup.
  • Frozen grated ube: Before steaming, thaw the frozen grated ube then remove it from the package. Wrap the thawed ube in aluminum foil, but leave a little opening on top. Place it on a steamer basket and let it steam for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until soft. Let it cool and mash it until smooth. Use ½ cup.
  • Ube halaya: Use ½ cup jam and decrease the sugar to 4 tablespoons.


Step #2: Preparing your dough

Now that you have your ube, you should proceed in making your dough. This will comprise the body of your pandesal

  • Get a mixing bowl and add warm water and sprinkle the active dry yeast and 1 tbsp. Of sugar. Stir the mixture about 5 minutes, or until foamy.
  • Add your softened butter, 2 eggs lightly beaten, remaining sugar, warm milk, and your prepared mashed purple yam, and salt. Using a wooden spoon, stir the ingredients until everything is combined well.
  • Then, add 3 cups of flour (can be all purpose flour or a combination with bread flour). Make sure to add one cup at a time and stir it every addition. By this time, you’ll start to see the form of a dough. Add enough of the remaining flour to gauge the stickiness and continue to stir until the dough comes together in the center of the bowl. Light grease a kneading board and turn the dough out.


Step #3: Knead, Proof, Assemble

  • As expected, the dough will be sticky. Use oil and a little bit of flour to make kneading easier and to keep the bread texture soft. Be careful in adding oil and flour as you knead. Because too much oil will keep it from rising and adding too much flour will make your dough too dry.
  • As you knead, your ube dough will gradually lose its stickiness. Check if your dough is well-kneaded by taking a portion of a dough and stretch it out. It should be smooth and elastic. 
  • Place your kneaded dough in a lightly oiled bowl then cover it, and let it rise for 1.5 to 2 hours until the dough has doubled its size.
  • Deflate the risen dough and form it into 20-22 in. log. You may cut them vertically in half. Then, cut each half into seven smaller portions (which yields to 14 portions).
  • Flatten each dough portion using your hands and place a piece of cheese in the center. Fold the dough around the cheese and tuck the ends under the seal.
  • Roll all the portions in bread crumbs then arrange them in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover it with a kitchen towel and let it rise for 40 to 60 minutes.
  • Bake them in a preheated oven (350 F)  for about 20 minutes. Remove the tray from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes.

There you have it! Your DIY ube cheese pandesal is ready to serve. Ube cheese pandesal is perfect for breakfast or merienda with a cup of warm milk, hot choco, or black coffee. It’s best enjoyed freshly baked, but it stays soft for days after baking up to two days in room temperature to one week refrigerated.