Pandan Chiffon Cake

Popular in Southeast Asia and commonly found across bakeries in Singapore, this cake is incredibly light and pillowy soft. This recipe comes from food photographer Shilpa Iyer; she shares, “Sometimes referred to as the vanilla of Southeast Asia, pandan extract has a subtle grassy flavor with hints of vanilla and coconut and can be found in both savory and sweet dishes.” Thank you, Shilpa, for introducing us to this ingredient and a delicious cake!

Prep
30 mins
Bake
40 to 45 mins
Total
3 hrs 30 mins
Yield
one 10” cake
Pandan Chiffon Cake

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the bottom third. Have on hand an ungreased 9 1/2” to 10" round angel food cake pan.

  2. To make the pandan liquid: If using fresh pandan leaves, rinse and trim so only the dark green parts of the leaf remain. (The white root ends and thorny tip can be composted.) Frozen pandan leaves are already trimmed and ready for use. Cut the leaves into 1" pieces using a pair of scissors. Place in a food processor along with the water.

  3. Blend the pandan and water until the leaves resemble grass clippings.

  4. Strain the pandan mix using a fine mesh sieve, collecting and saving the liquid. Or squeeze as much liquid out of the pulp as possible using cheesecloth or a nut milk bag; you need about 90g liquid.

  5. To make the cake: Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.

  6. In a large bowl, use an electric hand mixer (or stand mixer) equipped with a whisk attachment to whisk the egg yolks and sugar until they're thick and pale yellow, about 2 minutes at medium-high speed.

  7. Once pale and creamy add the pandan liquid, oil, and coconut cream, whisking until thoroughly incorporated.

  8. Add the sifted dry ingredients, whisking until the batter is evenly blended. Set aside while you make the meringue.

  9. To make the meringue: In a separate large bowl, using a whisk or mixer with whisk attachment, whip together the egg whites and cream of tartar at medium-high speed until foamy.

  10. With the mixer running, gradually add about half the sugar and whisk until soft peaks form. Add the rest of the sugar and continue whisking until the meringue is stiff and glossy.

  11. Gently fold one-third of the meringue into the egg yolk mixture, taking care not to deflate the egg whites too much. Continue folding the meringue into the batter until no white streaks remain.

  12. Scoop the batter into the pan. Run a toothpick or a skewer in and around the batter to pop any large air bubbles.

  13. To bake the cake: Bake the cake for 35 minutes, then lower the temperature to 325°F and bake for 5 to 10 minutes more. The cake is done when a toothpick or skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, the top is light brown, and the cake springs back when gently pressed. Cracks may appear on top; don’t worry, this is common and typical of pandan chiffon cake.

  14. Remove the cake from the oven and cool it upside down, inverted over the neck of a bottle.

  15. When completely cool, run a thin-bladed metal spatula between the cake and the pan, and turn the cake out onto a serving plate. Garnish as desired.

  16. Storage information: The cake may be wrapped and stored at room temperature for up to two days, or in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Tips from our Bakers

  • If you can’t find pandan leaves to make the liquid, substitute 1/2 teaspoon store-bought pandan paste combined with 5 tablespoons (75g) coconut milk. Mix together the paste and coconut milk and add to the batter as noted in step 7. Finish and bake as directed. Since pandan paste includes green food coloring, the cake will have a more vibrant green color than cake made with fresh pandan leaves.

  • If you find fresh pandan leaves, only use the dark green parts of the leaf. Trim off the white root ends and the thorny tip of each leaf before using. Frozen pandan leaves are already trimmed and ready for use.