Friday, September 20, 2013

Pandan Chiffon Cake - My Search for the Ultimate Pandan Chiffon Cake

I have always been quite apprehensive about baking chiffon cakes, especially pandan chiffon cakes. I don't really like baking pandan chiffon cakes because first of all, pandan leaves are very expensive and hard to come by and once I buy them, they come in 250 grams or 500 grams and I have to use them all, so you can imagine my face turning green if I have to bake and eat pandan cakes everyday (well, I only started freezing them recently and I am surprised that they keep quite well in the freezer.) Secondly, I am the only person who appreciates pandan chiffon cakes, my little son refuses to eat anything that is green cos he associates green with broccoli which he absolutely hates, and my hubby doesn't think very highly of cakes that look radioactive green. Thirdly, I have an irrational fear of unmoulding chiffon cakes, it stems from the time when I owned a savarin cake tin which I thought was a proper chiffon cake tin, and I failed countless times unmoulding the chiffon cakes from that stupid savarin cake tin. 

Anyway, long story cut short. I looked up the most detailed and sought-after pandan chiffon cake recipe on the web, which is this recipe posted by Dr Leslie Tay of ieatishootipost, and tried to apply some mathematics to it to adapt his recipe to fit a 8-inch (21 cm) cake tin, his recipe was for a 10-inch (25cm) by the way. I then realised that the area of 8-inch should be about 64 percent of a 10-inch. (Go work it out, it's just simple PI x r squared. ) Then I came across another recipe that was also adapted from the same original recipe (KiamnengWong), but suited for a 21 cm chiffon pan. Strange, but that recipe seemed to have halved the amount of ingredients for a 10-inch to arrive at the recipe for a 8-inch. 

So I picked the 2nd recipe and started preparing the cake. Alas, I made the same mistake as 2 days ago for my panda bread, I started too late due to too much dilly-dallying, and I had to rush through the whole baking process in order to be on time to fetch my son from the kindergarden. In fact, I had to leave home at 3.25pm instead of the usual 3.15pm when my son was supposed to be fetched at 3.30pm. The cake was still in the oven when I left home and there was still 5 min to go before completion, so I thought I could switch off the oven heat and let the cake continue baking in the enclosed oven. Luckily the cake was not burnt although it did suffer a little shrinkage because it was not removed and inverted immediately since I only arrived home 15 min later.

Just before I left to fetch my son, 5 min before completion.
Sigh, this was an absolutely delicious pandan chiffon cake, the best I had ever done, but unfortunately I had to rush through the final baking moment, which resulted in a regrettable moment of folly.

I opened the oven 15 min later, and my heart sank! :S

So here is my recipe, adapted from here and here.

(Each of my eggs were about 65g with shell, 60g without, and contained 20g egg yolk and 40g egg white)

180g egg whites (4.5 x 40g)
0.5 tsp cream of tartar
50g fine sugar (I grinded normal caster sugar in food processor)

60g egg yolks (3 x 20g)
50g fine sugar
70g coconut milk plus 1 tbsp water, blend with 20-25 pandan leaves
60g vegetable oil (no olive oil or peanut oil pls!)
0.5 tsp pandan paste/essence (I used koepoe koepoe brand)

1/8 tsp salt
100g cake flour, sifted with 1 tsp baking powder

Still, the taste is something to die for!

1. Wash the pandan leaves and cut them each into 1cm strips. Prepare the pandan-coconut milk mixture by blending in a food processor: pandan leaves (100g or 25 pieces) with coconut milk (70g) and water (1 tbsp). Then strain the mixture through a sieve, pressing hard to extract as much juice as possible. Remove the pulp, and retain the green coconut milk, which should weigh about 95g. If you fail to get 95g, top it up with extra coconut milk to 95g.

2. Using an electric mixer, whisk egg yolks and sugar at high speed till thick and creamy, until the ribbon stage is achieved, i.e. the mixture should form a slowly disappearing ribbon on the surface when it is lifted with the whisk. Add green coconut milk, followed by vegetable oil, pandan paste/extract (if using any), and continue whisking until evenly mixed.

3. Gradually add sifted flour mixture (cake flour, baking powder , salt) and whisk gently in the same direction, either with electric mixer at lowest speed or with manual whisk, until the flour is all incorporated. 

4. In a separate mixing bowl (note: must be dry, clean and grease-free), using an electric mixer at high speed, whisk egg whites until it is frothy, then add cream of tartar and whisk briefly, and finally add sugar in 3 additions and whisk till stiff peaks are formed.

5. Scoop 1/3 of the egg-white mixture and mix it with the green mixture, folding with a rubber spatula. Then add the remaining egg-white mixture and fold in gently and swiftly.

6. Bang the mixing bowl on the table-top a few times to get rid of air bubbles trapped in the batter. Then pour the batter slowly into a ungreased, unlined chiffon cake tin of 8 inch or 21 cm (preferably made of aluminium and non-stick and with a removable base), then use a chopstick to gently run through the batter, to get rid of air bubbles. Finally use a spatula to smooth and level out the surface of the batter. 

7a. Preheat the oven (with top and bottom heat) to 180 degrees celsius and place the cake on the bottom shelf for about 15 min, until the cake has risen to almost level with the top of the cake tin, the cake should be slightly brown but not cracked. 

7b. Place a baking tray on the top shelf to block out the heat from the top and continue baking for another 20 min or so, cake should have risen above the top of the cake tin, and should be slightly cracked now. If you don't have a baking tray, use aluminium foil to loosely cover the cake.

7c. Remove the tray from the top and continue baking until the top of the cake is dry and medium brown, about 5 to 10 min. Total time should be maximum 45 min at 180C for a 21-cm cake.  

8. Remove the chiffon cake from the oven, immediately invert it onto a bottle and leave it to cool for at least 1 hour. When completely cooled, unmould the cake by using a sharp serrated knife to first loosen the edges of the cake from the sides of the cake tin, and then the bottom of the cake from the base. 

So what was the verdict? Just take a look at this picture. I found a new "convert" in my 1.5 year old daughter, and that explains the sloppy photograpy for today, I couldn't take any proper pictures because she was eyeing the cake all the time. Anyway, both of us finished 3/4 of the cake within 30 min! :)

I am submitting this post to Little Thumbs Up (September ) - Pandan hosted by Josceline of Butter, Flour & Me, organized by Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and Mui Mui of my little favourite DIY.


  1. OMG, I hate Math LOL
    IMHO your chiffon cake is a success! Never mind the slight shrinkage
    Tell me about time management when baking and looking at the clock ticking closer to fetching kids - happens to me all the time, explains my mostly over proofing bread LOL

  2. Hi Miss B,

    I have also tried ieatishootipost's pandan chiffon cake recipe. I didn't make around with the proportion of the ingredients and bake the recipe in its full amount with Wendy's pandan extraction method. It was superb!!! Lucky that I didn't cut the amount to bake... Next time, I want to bake a smaller cake, I will adapt from yours... less brain cells dying because of too much maths calculation!!! :p


  3. Hi Alice & Victoria,
    Thank you for your encouragement!

  4. Hi Zoe,
    Well, the amount of ingredients of the 8-inch is proportionally half that of the 10-inch, although theoretically it should be 64%. I couldn't figure out how 95ml of coconut milk + pandan juice extract was derived for the 8-inch recipe when 140ml of coconut milk + 2 tbsp (30ml) pandan juice extract was specified in Dr Tay's 10-inch recipe. I just followed suit and used 95ml and it turned out fine. And I omitted the vanilla essence in Dr Tay's recipe, just added some koepoe koepoe pandan paste for extra flavour and colour.

    It helps also to convert egg yolks and egg whites from grams to numbers, and vice versa, because the eggs that we buy from the supermart are different in size and weight. I am assuming 1 egg is 60g, so that egg white is 40g and egg yolk is 20g, makes things much easier when we prepare the ingredients.

  5. I like how you captured your gal reaching out for the pandan cake, so cute! :) Your cake looks well risen and soft! :)

  6. Oh My! This is a must-be-very-precise-measurement cake to make. Unfortunately, I am really not good at following precise measurements, hence, my shunning away from baking :-(

    But LOVE your end result - the cut slices. Did not look at all a disaster, if you were to ask me. What matters, is the taste and I'm sure as you mentioned, they were to die for. I wish I could have a piece!!!

  7. Hi Bee,
    Your pandan still look great! From the texture can tell this is a great chiffon.
    Love the green colour very much.
    Your 1.5 years old is super cute :D

  8. Great! One of my favourite cake... in Indonesia we call it "kue bolu pandan"


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