Ube ensaymada is a rich brioche filled with creamy ube (purple yam) jam and topped with grated cheddar cheese.
In the bowl of a heavy duty mixer, Add the yeast, milk, egg and 1 cup all-purpose flour. Mix with a rubber spatula just until combined. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of flour over the top as if to cover the mixture. Let this stand for about 40-45 minutes. There will be cracks on the flour surface at this point.
After chilling, divide the dough in half. Refrigerate the other half while you work on the other (or freeze for up to a month).
Divide the dough into 12-13 portions. Flatten a portion into an oval that is about the size of your hands. Spoon about 2 tbsp of ube jam in the center and spread it out into a thin layer. Starting on the long edge, roll the oval into a log. Using your palms, roll the log back and forth against the surface just to elongate it a little bit so that you can twist it into a spiral. Twist the log to form a spiraled bun, tucking the end underneath. Repeat with the rest of the portions.
Arrange the buns on a large baking sheet that is lined with parchment paper. Cover the pan loosely with a kitchen towel and let rise for 1 to 1/2 hours. Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly beat an egg and 1 tbsp water to make the egg wash. Brush the surface of the buns with the egg wash. Bake the buns at 350 F for 12-15 minutes. Allow to cool slightly and sprinkle the top generously with grated cheese. For decorations, add a dot of ube on top of the buns.
On a floured surface, roll the remaining half of the dough using a rolling pin to a rectangle that is about 15 x 10 inches in size. Spread ube filling to the surface leaving about an inch of border. Roll the long edge of the dough into a log.
Using a knife or a pizza cutter, cut the log in half vertically starting from an inch below the top all the way to the other end, leaving the top end uncut. Turn the two cut logs so that the cut sides are facing up. Twist them together to form a spiral or braid. Tuck the ends under. Cover assembled dough with a clean towel and let rise for 1 to 1 and 1/2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Brush the surface of the dough with the egg wash. Bake the ensaymada for 17-20 minutes or until top is golden. Let ensaymada cool slightly then sprinkle grated cheddar cheese on top.
Add ube pieces to a medium saucepan and pour enough water over it to cover. Let them boil over medium heat for about 10-15 minutes or until very tender. Once the ube has cooled slightly, mash them until they are soft and creamy.
In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add the evaporated milk, condensed milk and sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Add the mashed ube and stir everything together. Stirring often, cook the mixture until the ube is softened and incorporated. Stir in the ube flavoring. Continue to cook and stir until the liquid is absorbed and the mixture is thick and sticky. This process takes about 40 minutes. The mixture will be thick but should still be spreadable. It is important to stir the mixture during cooking to prevent it from forming crusts. Turn off heat and allow the ube to cool (in the fridge if you are making this a day ahead). When you are ready to use the ube, make sure it is not too cold prior to spreading so that it glides easily to the dough.
Brioche recipe adapted From Nancy Silverton, from book Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan.