I wanted to bake a cake this week. I wanted to make something light and I thought of chiffon cake immediately. I had not baked a chiffon cake for a few months and I started thinking of the flavour. I had lemons on hand and almost went with it. Then I thought – If I went with lemons I would have leftover cake because not everyone in my family likes a citrus cake. The other choice that was playing in my mind was Pandan Chiffon. Ok, Pandan Chiffon would be a hit in our household.
If you live in Singapore or visited Singapore, you will know that Pandan chiffon is the most famous of all chiffon cakes. This pastel green, feather-light, cottony cake is aromatic and flavourful. The texture is soft and cottony and the taste is sweet and fragrant. The fragrance comes from the cake’s star ingredient – Pandan, also known as Screwpine Leaf in some parts of the world. Locally, we call this leaf Pandan. It is a tropical plant used in a lot in South East Asia cooking. It is almost always paired with coconut milk in South East Asian cooking. In Pandan Chiffon Cake, coconut milk goes hand in hand with Pandan.
I managed to get Pandan leaves and coconut milk at the market and made Pandan Chiffon yesterday. Pandan leaves can be grown at home and can be easily found at supermarkets and wet markets in Singapore. If you are living in other parts of the world and would like to try Pandan Chiffon, you can try to see if the Asian supermarkets sell the leaves or perhaps some bakeries do have Pandan Chiffon.
Pandan Chiffon Cake (17cm chiffon pan)
90g cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
25g granulated sugar
3 egg yolks
100ml pandan coconut milk**
11/2 tablespoon vegetable oil **
3 egg whites
50g granulated sugar
** To make 100ml pandan coconut milk, blend 120ml of coconut milk with at least 8 blades of pandan leaves. Cut the pandan leaves into small pieces before blending.
** I used canola oil, do not use olive oil as the taste will turn out differently. Use light flavoured oils such as canola or sunflower.
** Do not oil or grease the chiffon cake pan because the cake needs to stick to the sides of the pan to rise.
- Make pandan coconut milk by blending 120ml coconut milk with at least 8 blades of pandan leaves cut into small pieces. Using a sieve, strain to get 100ml of pandan coconut milk.
- Separate egg yolks and whites and leave them till they reach room temperature. (Tip: use eggs from the refrigerator as they are easier to separate than those left in room temperature)
- Whisk egg yolks with 25g granulated sugar till light and airy.
- Stir in vegetable oil followed by pandan coconut milk. Stir till well combined.
- Sieve cake flour and baking powder over egg yolk mixture. Fold to incorporate well with the egg yolk and pandan coconut milk.
- Preheat oven to 170 degree celcius.
- Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites till foamy. Add 50g sugar in thirds, each time beating well on medium speed. Beat till stiff peaks form. One way to test if egg whites or meringue has reached stiff peaks is to overturn the bowl. The egg whites/meringue will stick to the bowl and not fall out.
- Take about one third of the beaten egg whites/meringue and fold into the egg yolk mixture. Fold till there are no traces of egg whites. Light and swift folds are required so as not to deflate the egg whites.
- Next, take another one third and fold into the egg yolk mixture.
- Finally take the last third and fold into the mixture ensuring that everything is well incorporated and no traces of egg whites are present.
- Pour batter into chiffon cake pan.
- Tap the cake pan on the counter a few times to break any air bubbles in the batter.
- Bake for 30 minutes. The cake will rise above the cake pan whilst baking. This is normal.
- Remove from the oven and immediately invert the cake pan on an overturned cup. This is to prevent the cake from collapsing.
- Let it cool completely for at least one to one and a half hours before removing from the cake pan.
- Use a thin bladed knife to run along the cake pan to release the cake.
- Cut into slices and enjoy.