Pandan Chiffon Cake (II) | KitchenTigress

Pandan Chiffon Cake (II)


Pandan chiffon cake is Singapore's unofficial national cake. It's fluffy like a cloud but this cloud is bright green, not white. The colour comes from pandan leaves. The floral aroma of the leaves enhances the coconut milk's fragrance in the cake.

Tips for perfect pandan chiffon cake:

Pandan leaves

Select pandan leaves like a painter mixing colours to get the right shade. If the mix of leaves is too dark, the colour of the cake will be dull, and the taste bitter and grassy. If it's too light, the cake will look pale.

A young bunch of pandan may be 80% usable; an old one, maybe only half. Use all of the innermost leaves, which have the best flavour but not much colour.

The leaves in the middle have both. Those on the outside may be used if they're bright lime green and soft.

Stiff, dark leaves are dry and bitter. These are good for scaring away cockroaches, not baking.

Egg whites

Egg whites for chiffon cakes should be beaten till they form firm hooked peaks when the whisk is lifted. Egg whites at firm peak stage should be creamy and fluid, i.e. not grainy. Without the fluidity, egg whites can't stretch upward. That's why overbeaten egg whites don't rise much in the oven.

The faster the whisk is, the higher the risk of overbeating, especially for small quantities of less than 200 ml. Electric hand whisks are generally ok but stand mixers may be a bit tricky if you're a novice baker whisking a small amount of fresh egg whites.

Baking

PCC isn't done yet when an inserted skewer comes out clean. It needs to hit that stage, then bake an additional 5-10 minutes (7.5 minutes with my oven) for the crust to brown properly.


Here's how you can tell if the cake is done just right: Immediately after the chiffon pan is removed from the oven and inverted, lift it up slightly. The cake is underdone if it falls out of the pan, overdone if it doesn't budge at all. If the cake drops a bit but manages to stay in the pan, give yourself a pat on the back. The crust would be brown but not dry and leathery, and the inside soft, moist and springy.

Unmoulding

Make sure the knife scrapes the chiffon pan. Otherwise, the lovely brown crust would be on the pan, not on the cake.

Coconut milk

Fresh is best, by far. If you have to use packaged coconut milk, taste it first. If it tastes good, it will be good in the cake. 

How to make pandan chiffon cake

Step-by-step guide



The gold standard for pandan chiffon cake is Bengawan Solo's version. This recipe is just as good if you use freshly squeezed coconut milk and pandan juice.

pandan chiffon cake
INGREDIENTS
(For one 21cm cake)
  • 100 g pandan leaves – use only young, light green leaves
  • 70 g freshly squeezed coconut milk, undiluted

  • 180 g egg whites
  • ½ tsp cream of tartar
  • 50 g sugar

  • 60 g egg yolks
  • 50 g sugar
  • 60 g vegetable oil
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 100 g cake flour, sift with baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
Related post: More tips for baking pandan chiffon cake.

INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C.

  2. Wash and roughly chop pandan leaves. Blend with coconut milk and 1 tbsp water. Strain, pressing leaves hard to yield 95 g. Set liquid aside. Discard pulp.

  3. Whisk egg whites with sugar and cream of tartar till just reaching stiff peaks. Set aside.

  4. In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar till pale, thick and creamy (ribbon stage). Add green coconut milk, then vegetable oil, whisking till evenly mixed. Gradually add flour mixture, along with salt, again whisking till just evenly mixed. Add egg whites in 3 batches, whisking gently by hand in electric whisk's direction. Scrape down with spatula before mixing last batch of egg whites.

  5. Bang mixing bowl against worktop 2-3 times to remove air bubbles. Pour batter into 21 cm 2-piece chiffon tin that's not non-stick, slowly so that air bubbles still trapped in the batter are released. Run a chopstick round side of tin to remove more air bubbles. Level and smooth top.

  6. Bake cake in bottom of oven till risen and almost level with top of tin, about 15 minutes. Cake should now be very slightly brown and not cracked. Place baking tray in top of oven to block top heat. Continue baking till inserted skewer comes out clean, 20 minutes or so. Cake should now be slightly cracked. Remove tray from top of oven. Continue baking till top of cake is dry and medium-brown, another 5-10 minutes (7½ minutes for my oven).

  7. Remove cake from oven. Invert and leave till cool, an hour or so. Cut cake out of tin. Serve.