The pandan chiffon cake was a childhood comfort food. So ubiquitous, it can be found in any bakery here and very cheaply too. I should be able to handle it. Or so i thought.
First of all, I was troubled by the sheer number of discourses in cyberspace by more experienced bakers. This one seemed to have daunted a fair number of people and most of them had some issues. Starting with the pandan leaf (“it is easier to squeeze blood out of stone than juice out of pandan leaves”).
After 2 weekends of research, I became more confused than ever. There were too many recipes! Some called for more egg whites than egg yolks. A few used equal number egg whites and yolks. The quantities quoted were all different (which one was for what size pan?!?!). There were more theories and tips than an espionage plot. But they were passionately espoused so it was still an interesting read.
These were some of the sites I reviewed over and over before my attempt. I got some very good tips from them:
- The doctor (detailed trials and feedback and very funny)
- Kitchentigress (excellent ‘how to’ video which I watched x times)
- Christine (straight-talking, simple recipe, the one I finally used)
- Extravirginchef (great tips summary, followed all of them)
So, I got ready to start but I was reeling from information overload. And having trouble finding fresh coconut milk (which used to be readily available from mama shops when I was young). Finally, I bought fresh, pasteurized packet coconut milk from the vegetable man at the wet market.
Of course, the first cake flunked. And it did so by dropping out of the pan as I tried to tilt pan over. It also had a very raw pandan taste. I read somewhere that it was better to use as many leaves as possible to extract the juice from. Backfired. This cake was over-pandan-ed and tasted awful.
The second cake did not fall as hard. It merely slide out of the pan. Another flop, literally.
I was going to give it up if I failed the third time. To my surprise, I got my pandan chiffon cake!
Photos of 1st successful attempt
Second successful attempt
The Raw Materials
• 7 egg yolks
• 30 g sugar (2tbsp)
• 120 g cake flour (1 cup)
• 1 tsp baking powder
• 120 ml coconut milk/cream at room temperature (packet ones from the wet market)
• 3 tbsp pandan juice
• 1 drop pandan essence (koepoe brand, from Sheng Shiong)
• 4 tbsp canola oil (or other vegetable oil)
• 1/2 tsp vanilla oil/extract
• 7 egg whites
• 70 g sugar (4.5 tbsp)
• 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
• 18-20 pandan leaves finely chopped
• 4 tbsp water
(Grind the pandan leaves down with water in a food mixer and squeeze to get the pandan juice)
Putting Them Together
- Cream egg yolks with sugar till pale, thick and creamy. Add Vanilla essence.
- Add coconut milk, pandan juice, pandan essence, oil. Whisk till evenly mixed.
- Sift in flour, baking powder, mix well.
- Pre-heat oven to 170°C (for Healsio, 180°C)
- Whisk egg whites at low speed till bubbles form. Add cream of tartar. whisk. Then add in sugar. Whisk at max speed till stiff peaks (meringue will not drift and fall off spatula when scoopped out. It will stay firmly on spatula).
- Spoon out 1/3 of meringue and fold until thoroughly mixed. Repeat 2 more times.
- Pour batter into cake pan (Wiltshire) slowly. Bang pan a couple of times to get rid of trapped air. Run chopstick around side to remove more air bubbles.
- Bake cake for 15 minutes. Cover with aluminium sheet to prevent browning. Bake for another 30 minutes.
- Remove cake from oven, invert to cool. Cover with wet cloth to hasten cooling process. 30 minutes.
- Scrap cake out.
- I used equal egg whites-egg yolk recipe because I didn’t want to waste the yolks
- Too many pandan leaves is – not good
- Blending the pandan leaves with coconut milk to extract the juice is not a good move. Messy and you waste coconut milk
- Leftover coconut milk can be stored in freezer and used again. Those freshly squeezed ones will turn bad even if left in fridge by next day
- Egg whites should be beaten till stiff stage
- Banging the mixture before pouring and running chopstick around the edge are great ideas
- Covering the top to prevent browning 15 mins into the baking is an absolute must
- Know thy oven well. I used a Heaslio 4-in-1 oven tuned to 180°C (although my oven thermometer indicated 160°C)
Now, if only I can fix the domed top.