Feeding my Singaporean Soul. Back to basics! Pandan cake is probably one my favourite things about Singapore, other than tutu kueh. Look at this soft pillowy goodness and tell me your heart doesn't yearn for it?! I actually squished a few of these just for fun, it was sooo addictive. Don't worry, of course I ate them afterward. But anyway I kept doing it until I was so freaking full, but I kept squishing and had no choice but to keep eating it. ZZZ.
Look at this soft pillowy goodness!! This is also the time when I'll allow you to press these against your two cheeks and purrrrr at it.
Anyway, I've baked these chiffon versions a couple of times back at home. Then I upgraded and made the bastardised version --a layered Pandan Sponge cake with Gula Melaka (Palm sugar) Swiss Meringue Buttercream. My friends loved those and always asked me to make them again and again. But honestly, Pandan juice is a shit load of work. Just imagine, going to a great green field, settling yourself down nicely, then pluck a handle tuft of grass and trying your best to squeeze water out of it. IT IS EXACTLY LIKE THAT. Just that Pandan leaves are worse because they are hardy and scratchy. Pandan leaves make my hands itch like mad. Every time I wash the leaves, cut it etc, my hands becomes flaming red because it is so itchy. Not sure who else gets that though, maybe it is just me.
Okay, not to scare you too much! I should be encouraging. WE HAVE A SOLUTION TO THOSE TROUBLES! As much as I can, I try not to use artificial colouring or flavours, making things from scratch blah blah blah. But when the benefits outweighs the artificial nonsense, I'm not dumb. I will gladly put down my baker ego/pride and pick up a good bottle of Pandan Paste and kiss my beautiful non-itching hands.
The thing about essence that you should know is that they affect your baked goods a lot. I haven't googled the scientific version of its effects but based on my 8 years of expert baking (LOL), it can turn your goods bitter, completely disintegrate the structure of your baked goods, overpowering...blah blah blah. That's why recipes always call for only a small bit of it. So watch out how much you add, don't be overzealous.
Okay back to the Pandan Paste, get your hands on one!! I don't recommend the Bake King or Phoon Huat brands cos they aren't as fragrant. Perhaps it is because those are essences rather than paste. I used to add those to my hard-squeezed pandan juices and it didn't help much. So this, Koepoe Koepoe, is the go-to brand. (Check out your Asian supermarket for it, if you're overseas). It is a Pandan Paste and has a richer pandan fragrance. It is also already coloured so it saves you from getting a bottle of green food colouring just for this. This is my first time trying this paste and it does live up to its expectations!
The recipe is originally from ieatishootipost. You can refer to his recipe there, but I've adapted his recipe and will be sharing my own methods and observations. I'm an efficient (another word for lazy) baker, so I always try to compress recipes so that I can use less bowls, plates for washing etc. If it yields results, who needs extra steps and dishes?
You can view the steps in my instagram (@thebakerslust) story profile highlights.
PANDAN CHIFFON CAKE
Prep time: 15 mins
Bake time: 1hr
Chiffon cake tin: 10" (I only had a 8" chiffon tin, so with the excess batter I just baked into a regular 6" tin)
6 large egg yolks
115ml vegetable oil (You may use any other neutral-smelling oil, I used grapeseed oil. DO NOT use olive oil because it will overpower all your other flavours)
Coconut milk 140ml
Pandan Paste 1 tsp
Vanilla essence 2 tsp
Cake flour 200g (if you have no cake flour, substitute with 170g AP flour.+ 30g of corn flour)
Baking Powder 2 tsp
Salt 1/4 tsp
9 egg whites (approx 360g)
1 tsp cream of tartar
1. Preheat oven to 170'c
2. In a large mixing bowl, add egg yolks and sugar together. Whisk it till it is pale yellow, light and fluffy.
You may use a handmixer, or a stand mixer. I whipped it manually because I din't want to wash too many machine related stuff.
3. Add the oil, milk, pandan paste and vanilla essence into the egg yolk mixture.
4. Sift/sprinkle the cake flour over the egg yolk mixture, together with the baking powder and salt.
I din't sift because again, lazy. With the bowl of flour in your hand, lightly "sprinkle" the flour on the mixture, moving the bowl to and fro
5. In a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, on high speed, whisk the egg whites till it is slightly foamy. Once foamy, add in the cream of tartar and continue whisking for another 30secs.
6. As it continues to whisk the egg whites, sprinkle in the sugar and whisk till soft stiff peaks.
Soft-stiff peaks is when you lift up your whisk, the egg whites should be able to hold its shape. It doesn't have to be super stiff, which is the stage where you can put the bowl over your head. Not that stage, but just stiff enough to have a nice little peak, like how your hair can be in the morning.
7. With your spatula, take about 2 huge spoonfuls of the whipped whites and fold into the pandan mixture. This step helps to lighten the pandan mixture. Once incorporated, add in the rest of the whites in 2-3 batches. Folding gently so that you don't beat the air out of the batter.
8. Pour the batter into the chiffon tin and lightly tap the tin on the counter 2-3 times. This helps to eliminate the huge air bubbles. Then gently shake the tin to level the batter out.
9. On the lowest rack of the oven, bake the cake at 170'c for 20 mins and 130'c for another 30 mins or until your cake tester comes out clean.
If it browns too much during the baking process but the cake isn't done, put an aluminum foil over it during the remaining time.
10. Once baked, remove from oven and invert it upside down. Place the chiffon tin upside down on a remkin dish or a wine bottle. Be careful not to place it too close to the table surface else condensation will affect the look of your cake.
11. Once cooled, run a thin sharp knife on the sides of the pan and the middle part of it.
Life is really much easier with Pandan Paste. And it tastes as good! BAM BAM BAM! And there's a secret I've got to tell you about this cake that I made...I actually knocked it over while it was cooling inverted and balancing precariously on a wine bottle. So please, make sure you find a stable bottle/bowl that suits your chiffon tin. LEST YOU END UP LIKE ME. I'm a cautionary tale. But you couldn't tell from my pictures, could you? But now that I've told you, you'll try to find the signs of the smashed parts. You'll see it, you will. Once again, I'm honest!