A fragrant pandan cake that will transport your taste buds to South East Asia. It is a light as air chiffon cake with a gorgeous green colour. Plus this is a dairy free cake, a bonus for those who are lactose intolerant.
What is pandan?
Pandan (pandanus amaryllifolius) is a tropical plant belonging to the screwpine family with long pointy leaves that are palm-like in texture. Pandan has a fresh, floral, earthy smell and taste, almost like sweet grass.
It is an essential ingredient in quite a lot of Asian cuisines. The flavour and colour can be extracted from the leaves to make pandan water. The leaves can be pounded to make pandan paste. Alternatively, food can be wrapped in the leaves for cooking.
Pandan is available in various forms at your local Asian grocer.
- Frozen whole leaves
- Fresh whole leaves
- Concentrated essence in small bottles
- Liquid extract in cans
- Powdered extract
- Vegetable Oil: use a mild tasting vegetable oil
- Eggs: medium size eggs, roughly 60grams each
- Water: you can also use milk if preferred for a slightly richer pandan cake
- Cream of Tartar: helps to stabilise egg whites when whipping
- Baking Powder: a raising agent, omit if you would like to use self-raising flour
- Salt: is used as a flavour enhancer
- Pandan Essence/Paste: available from Asian grocers, no substitute
- Caster Sugar: also called superfine sugar used for baking
- Plain Flour: regular baking flour, you can use the same amount of self-raising, but don't add the baking powder
Step by step instructions
Step 1: Pre-heat oven 160°C/325°F. Do not grease or line your tin.
Step 2: Using a stand mixer whisk egg whites and cream of tartar in a large bowl until stiff peaks form.
Step 3: Gradually add half of the caster sugar (115g/½ cup), the rest of the sugar is used in the next step.
Whisk sugar and egg whites until the mixture is stiff and glossy.
Set bowl aside.
Step 4: In a separate bowl whisk egg yolks and remaining sugar until thick and pale in colour.
Step 5: Then add oil, water and pandan extract. Whip until well combined at a medium speed.
Step 6: Sift in flour, baking powder, and salt. Continue whipping until combined.
Don't panic if you find the cake batter a little too green, it will tone down when the egg white mixture is folded through.
Step 7: Remove bowl from stand mixer and gently fold through ⅓ egg white mixture.
The purpose of folding through ⅓ of the egg white mixture initially is to loosen it up a little or lighten the consistancy.
This then allows us to fold through the remaining egg white mixture helping to retain the air which has been whipped into them.
Fold until it is just incorporated, do not over fold the mixture.
Step 8: Once the first addition of egg white mixture is incorporated gently fold through remaining egg white mixture until just combined. Don’t over mix.
Step 9: Pour batter into an ungreased angel food cake pan. Place in the oven and bake for 50 minutes.
Do not grease or line the tin! I know it feels unnatural, but it is important not to.
Step 10: After 50 minutes turn up the heat of the oven to 180°C/350°F for an additional 15 minutes. Cake is cooked when you gently press it in the middle with a finger and it springs back.
Step 11: Once out of the oven turn cake tin over and allow to cool completely upside down.
Step 12: Once cool remove cake from the tin.
Removing the cake from the tin
As you have probably predicted, due to using an ungreased/unlined tin, the pandan cake isn't going to slip out of that baby easily. But that's okay, an angel food/chiffon cake tin is designed not to be greased or lined.
We wanted the cake secured and stuck in that tin for the time we had it cooling upside down. If the tin had been greased or lined we wouldn't have been able to do it. By having the cake cool upside down it prevents it from falling and becoming flat. This is how we end up with a nice fluffy and tall pandan cake.
Step 1: Once the cake has cooled turn the tin right side up again.
Run a sharp thin-bladed knife around the inside of the tin and the pandan cake. Take your time being careful not to cut into the cake and making sure to go right down to the base of the tin
Then do the same thing around the central tube.
Step 2: From underneath gently push the removeable base up and out of the cake tin.
You will not need to remove the cake from the removable cake tin base. Using the same knife run it between the inside of the base and the bottom of the cake.
Take your time and go all the way to the central cylinder. Remember the base of the cake becomes the top of the cake, so be careful.
It may not be the prettiest of cakes once it has been removed from the tin. You could give it a light dusting of icing sugar if you wish.
The pandan cake magic happens when you cut into it. Such a gorgeous colour. The cake is tall and light as air.
I have left the pandan cake plain. I personally enjoy a "plain" cake every now and then. Goes really well with a nice cuppa in the afternoon or as a post dinner snack.
If you were making this cake for a special occasion, or did want to jazz it up a little you could. A pandan butter cream for that added pandan kick. Vanilla or coconut butter cream would work well too. Alternatively try a lime glaze.
- 7 eggs | separated
- ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 230 grams 1 cup caster sugar, | Note you will be using 115 grams/½ cup of sugar with step #2 and the remaining with step #3
- 125 mls ½ cup vegetable oil
- 185 mls ¾ cup water
- 1 teaspoon pandan essence/paste
- 300 grams 2 cups plain flour
- 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Pre-heat oven 160°C (325°F). Do not grease or line your tin.
- Using a stand mixer whisk egg whites and cream of tartar in a large bowl until stiff peaks form. Gradually add 115g/½ cup of the caster sugar, continue to whisk until mixture is stiff and glossy. Set bowl aside.
- In a separate bowl beat egg yolks and remaining sugar until thick and pale in colour.
- Then add oil, water and pandan extract. Whip until well combined at a medium speed.
- Sift in flour, baking powder, and salt. Continue whipping until combined.
- Remove bowl from stand mixer and fold through ⅓ egg white mixture. Once incorporated gently fold through remaining egg white mixture until just combined. Don’t over mix.
- Pour batter into an ungreased angel food cake pan. Place in the oven and bake for 50 minutes.
- After 50 minutes turn up the heat of the oven to 180°C (350°F) for an additional 15 minutes. Cake is cooked when you gently press it in the middle with a finger and it springs back.
- Once out of the oven turn cake tin over and allow to cool completely upside down.
- Once cool turn cake pan back over and run a sharp thin knife around the outside edges of the tin and then around the central tube. From underneath gently push the cake out from the bottom, it will still be attached to the removable base. Once removed from the tin, gently remove cake from base again using the sharp knife.
- The top of the cake when cooking becomes the base of your cake for decorating and serving. This is how you get that perfectly flat top. If your cake hasn’t risen evenly, you may wish to trim it slightly so it sits level.
Baking TipDon’t open the oven door for the first 45 minutes of cooking to ensure the cake rises.
Cooks NotesAll oven temperatures are for a conventional oven, if using fan forced lower the temperature by 20 Deg C (70 Deg F). All measurements are Australian tablespoons and cups. All measures are level, and cups are lightly packed unless specified;
- 1 teaspoon equals 5ml
- 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml (Nth America, NZ & UK use 15ml tablespoons)
- 1 cup equals 250ml (Nth America use 237ml)
- 4 teaspoons equals 1 tablespoon
- I use the below unless specified in my recipes;