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Team Babes' Ube Hotcakes

Fred Chang

Photos and words by Team Babes

“When we stepped back and looked at it, we’re like, this looks like vomit. It looks like a blueberry threw up on our pancakes.” “Happy breakfast.” - Ashlee Pham and Sophia Pou commenting on their dish of blueberry hotcakes with date and banana butter; My Kitchen Rules 2013

When you think of a pancake, babes, there are a surprisingly large number of different kinds out there. Latkes, scallion pancakes, crepe, hotcakes, roti, just to name a couple. But we in Team Babes love fluffy, fluffy pancakes. The Japanese hotcake is the king, or in our case, the queen of this category. Hotcakes are similar to the American-styled pancakes, but there is one key difference. They are airy, light, and typically, you’ll see them as these thick, thick hockey pucks. The original babes, they actually prepared those for the breakfast challenge in My Kitchen Rules, but we want our pancakes fluffy, not supersized, “a little bit fat.”

The idea behind using ube (Okinawan sweet potato), is because purple is the color of royalty, and we are the reigning babes over the world. We are “definitely in full dictator mode,” and have “been given the crowns and now it’s time to reign.” That was a joke. You may laugh now. But in all seriousness, we wanted to use ube because we have seen so many purple sweet potato desserts as of late, and we wanted to combine these fluffy Japanese-styled hotcakes with another Japanese thing, and figured between matcha and ube, ube would prove to be a bigger challenge, and we went full throttle with it.


The ube itself, we cooked in a Chinese almond milk tea, but most people cannot realistically get that (Fred acquired it from his friend Savannah, who got it during her winter break in Shanghai), so use almond milk instead for a similar flavor. We reserved the ube milk, because it would be a waste to pour this naturally purple colored liquid down the drain, when we could use it in our pancake batter, which is exactly what we did. For the batter itself, we don’t want our dessert to be too sweet and taste “like a Christmas ham,” so we used a very small amount of sugar, while using a large amount of egg whites to amp up the fluff levels of the hotcakes.

To make the hotcakes super thick, you would normally use a ring mold. But Fred and Adrienne were not in the mood to wrestle with pancake batter in large metal rings, so they went free form with them; the recipe was adjusted to free-form pancakes, but if you wanted to use the metal rings, you’d need to make sure to line those with oil, and then cook the pancakes on one side for 10 minutes, and then the other for five minutes, keeping the pan covered the entire time when you are not flipping those.

Finally, kaya is a Malaysian coconut jam, very similar to a custard. It traditionally uses pandan, but we did not want to overwhelm the flavor of the ube, so we omitted that. We made it into a cream but taking the kaya and folding it in with heavy whipping cream to give it more body, babes.

Team Babes’ Ube Hotcakes with Kaya Cream

For Hotcakes:
Potato puree
3 egg whites
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ cup ube milk

Whip egg whites, cream of tartar, baking powder until stiff, slowly adding in the granulated sugar. Whisk the ube milk with the potato puree to loosen, and then sift the flour over that mixture. Fold in the egg whites to create the batter.

In a lightly oiled pan that has been placed over low heat, pour about ¼ cup of the batter. Allow to sit for about 3-4 minutes, whenever the side is set and removable, before flipping and finishing on the other side for another 2-3 minutes.

For potato puree:
1 Okinawan sweet potato (ube); already boiled
2 tablespoons coconut oil

Puree sweet potato with oil and pass through a sieve.

For Ube Milk:
1 Okinawan sweet potato
1 cup almond milk (we in Team Babes used Almond Milk Tea powder, but that is not something you can find in most grocery stores anyways)
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
a pinch of salt

Peel and dice the potato. Bring the almond milk to a simmer and add in the potatoes. Boil until tender. Strain out the potatoes, reserving them for the hotcake batter, and then add in the honey, vanilla, and salt.

For kaya cream:
¼ cup heavy cream
½ cup coconut milk
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon cornstarch
¼ cup granulated sugar

Whisk together egg yolks, cornstarch, and sugar. Bring the coconut milk to a simmer, and temper the yolks. Whisk the entire mixture over medium high heat, until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Strain and chill, with plastic wrap pressed tightly against the surface, until the mixture is completely cold and set. Whisk heavy cream until stiff and fold into the kaya mixture to finish.