Monday, July 12, 2010

Recipe: Pandan Chiffon Cake

I'll admit that I am not the biggest fan of either chiffon cakes nor pandan chiffon cake. Growing up, it was always a rather cheap, artificial dessert, sold in the school canteen and the bright green colours repealed me. That, however, is not the case with this pandan chiffon cake, which is a wholly luxe, modern take on the traditional classic. This pandan chiffon cake really celebrates the tropics that we live in, it is made with fresh coconut milk, hand-squeezed out of a shredded coconut and real pandan (screwpine) essence, distilled from blended pandan leaves and flecked with vanilla bean.

The heady aroma of the coconut and pandan baking in the oven and cooling on the countertop, is the stuff of legend. I was given this recipe by my friend J. and after my initial failed attempt, she graciously allowed me to observe her at work on sunny Sunday. We made two cakes for family lunch on Sunday and they were all gone- this cake is so good that it's immediately become a family favourite! Here are the steps, one of which needs to be done the day before. Try to follow them faithfully and get the correct raw ingredients, it is so very worth it.

150g cake flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
8 egg yolks
300ml coconut milk
2tbsp pandan juice extract
160g caster sugar
1/2 tsp pandan essence
9 egg whites
1tbsp caster sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar

(1) Crush a handful (I like to use at least 4 stalks) of pandan leaves and blend them in a blender with a small amount (just enough to liquify pandan leaves) of water. Make sure the pandan is well and finely-blended. Leave the liquid in the fridge to stand overnight and then discard the water that rises to the surface. The thick, green essence that sinks to the bottem is the pandan juice.

(2) Buy fresh grated coconut from the wet market (300ml is about 1 coconut's worth of milk) and squeeze the fresh coconut milk from the shaved coconut. The remaining coconut pulp can be used to make dessicated coconut for other desserts or as plant fertilizer. Add the pandan juice to the coconut milk and add the pandan essence. If you use more pandan juice, you can forego the essence. We did this for the cakes shown here and they still turned out very green and flavourful.
(3) Beat egg whites with cream of tartar and half of sugar till stiff
(4) In a separate bowl, add sugar to the egg yolks and whisk. Add Coconut milk and pandan extract mixture.

(5)Fold in cake flour, baking powder and salt. Fold the egg white mixture into the egg yolk mixture gently, without breaking out the air bubbles and pour into mold. I would use a bundt pan so that the chiffon rises and bakes evenly. The pan does not have to be greased or paper-ed but you will have to cut the cake out of the pan.

(6) Bake in the oven at 160C for 35 mins. J. has found that baking the cakes at a higher temperature of 180C results in a better crumb and nice brown crust.
(7) Serve warm and fresh out of oven, if possible


Petunia Lee said...

Do we need to strain the blended pandan to get rid of the fibres?

juphelia said...

Looks delicious! I, too, have a recipe for chiffon cake (pandan, chocolate, orange, et al), but this recipe seems the best I have ever come across!