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Pandan chiffon cake is such a popular and iconic sponge cake in the Southeast Asia, which may also be widely known as the “green cake” among tourists. Just like any signature Asian sponge cake, pandan chiffon cakes are cottony soft, light and fluffy. Read on to find out how to make this cake easily at home!
I’m sure many of us here in Singapore grew up with the super popular Bengawan Solo pandan chiffon cake. Just like many other local desserts, the pandan chiffon cake is so iconic, so close to our hearts, that it is not just any other dessert.
What Is Pandan?
Pandan, also known as the screwpine, is identified by its long blade-like leaves. It is a type of tropical plant that grows abundantly in the Southeast Asia, and we commonly use pandan for it’s flavor and unique aroma.
There are various ways that you can use pandan, in both cooking and baking. You can steep whole pandan leaves in sweet dessert soups to impart the unique pandan aroma. Or, it can also be like in this recipe, extracting the pandan juice for its color, flavor and aroma.
There are times when I don’t have pandan leaves readily available in my fridge, so I really like the convenience from the pandan powder I bought from Scoop Wholefoods! I simply just place some pandan powder in a soup stock bag, add hot water, and steep for about 30 mins before squeezing out the juice.
Of course this method is not as good as blending the actual pandan leaves, as the signature green color may not appear in the baked chiffon cake. So I will recommend you to add some pandan paste if you are using pandan powder for convenience.
How Does This Chiffon Cake Taste Like?
This chiffon cake has very light and fluffy crumbs, accompanied by the signature pandan flavor. It is a tender and moist cake, great for tea time or even as breakfast treat with kopi!
Do not reduce the sugar because this is not a very sweet cake. Enjoy it without much guilt!
How Can I Make This Pandan Chiffon Cake?
Firstly, I tweaked this pandan chiffon cake recipe slightly, according to the ingredients I frequently have in my kitchen.
Pandan cake recipes usually include coconut milk and/or coconut oil as part of the ingredients. However, in this recipe, I am using whole milk and rice bran oil that I have in my kitchen.
The reason why I am not using coconut milk, is just because I find that I always have extra leftover coconut milk from baking or cooking. I really don’t like wastage, since coconut milk has a really short shelf life in the fridge.
So, if you’re like me, baking on a small batch and don’t like wastage, then this recipe is for you!
On the other hand, if you like a stronger, lemak taste to this pandan cake, you can replace the whole milk with coconut milk.
Ingredients For This Pandan Chiffon Cake Recipe
- Eggs: We will be separating the eggs, using 3 egg yolks and 4 egg whites.
- Top Flour: My personal preference is Prima unbleached top flour. You can use any brand you prefer.
- Baking Powder
- Caster Sugar: Get caster sugar for baking use, not the coarse sugar.
- Pandan Milk: I used 1.5 tbsp of pandan powder, steeped in 50g hot water. I then squeezed out the juice and added whole milk to get the pandan milk. You can also blend fresh pandan leaves with milk to get the pandan milk. See my recipe note in the recipe card.
- Pandan Paste: Highly recommend for additional color and flavor! I like the Koepoe Koepoe pandan paste because it makes the cake really fragrant. I’m using about 1/8 tsp (roughly about 3 drops).
- Oil: You can use any type of neutral tasting cooking oil here, or coconut oil if preferred.
How To Make This Pandan Chiffon Cake?
The making method is roughly divided into 2 parts: the egg yolk batter and the meringue.
The egg yolk batter will be a thick batter, made from mixing together the egg yolks, sugar, oil, pandan milk / paste and dry ingredients. The egg yolk batter will be folded to combine with the meringue (egg whites and sugar). We can then pour this batter into the chiffon tin for baking.
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Whipping the Meringue
Making chiffon cakes can be a little tricky – sometimes you’ll need to trial and error to check if it’s the oven temperature, your meringue or your cooling method that help in the success of the bake.
It is important to get the meringue right when we bake chiffon cakes, as it plays an important part in the success of the chiffon cake.
Before whipping the meringue, ensure your mixing bowl is dry and free from grease. Do not over-beat the meringue, it may make the baked cake cave in by the sides. The stiff peak we are looking to attain, is somewhere between a firm peak and a full stiff peak. It should hold itself up firmly, with a slight slanting angle (not standing up totally straight).
If you over-beat the meringue, it may break down and you will see some liquid at the bottom of the mixing bowl. If you see your meringue breaking down, it is better to discard and start whipping a new batch again.
Baking and Cooling The Pandan Chiffon Cake
For chiffon cakes, it is important to not open the oven door while it is baking, as the cake may collapse. If you are unsure of the baking time, I’ll recommend that you over-bake slightly, rather than under-bake.
We will be baking on the 2nd lowest rack – however it also depends on your oven. Chiffon cakes can be a little temperamental, so if you usually bake chiffon cakes on the lowest rack, you might want to do that instead of the 2nd lowest rack.
The last step will be to ensure that you cool the cake completely before storing or serving. You will need space for air circulation while the cake is cooling, so I usually invert the chiffon tin on an overturned mug. Cool completely before unmolding (it may take like 1-3 hours).