May 17, 2012

Best recipe for pandan sponge cake

pandan sponge cake

I've waxed lyrical about the pandan leaf before, and one of my favourite cakes is the pandan chiffon cake. At its best, it's airy and springy yet creamy with that lovely subtle aroma of the pandan. I found a small loaf on sale for a rather hefty $6.90 at the Asian store, so decided it was time to try and make my own.

I must have tried 10 recipes. I tried a few recipes including this,, which has less eggs and no coconut milk, this, which is all coconut milk and a whopping 8 eggs and this, which has some oil and some coconut milk and middling amount of eggs. To find out what is a stiff peak and how to beat the egg whites, and why one adds sugar to the egg whites, I thought this video was extremely helpful. I think coconut milk is a must, and it gives it that creamy, Asian flavour. Santan (coconut milk) after all, goes splendidly with pandan!

The best, by far, and the most reliable is the one by this Singaporean blogger. I've presented the cake to a group of Malaysian friends and they all loved it. This post also has a great, detailed explanation about what to do, and what not to do.

My mistakes with the pandan cake after several experiments and lots of reading :

1) Bake at bottom rack, else top will brown but bottom will be uncooked!

2) The base once had a big, funny concave look at one spot. I now give it a final one round stir at the bottom once the mixture goes into the tin (read once that this is to avoid big bubbles forming at the base - which will eventually be your top).

3) At first, I was a bit too careful about folding the egg whites in, and the cake didn't rise very well. Have learnt it's ok to be more vigorous to make sure it's all well mixed.

4) I prefer the natural juice as the aroma is just irreplacable, plus there isn't that slightly metallic aftertaste that I imagine with the artificial paste. However, the natural juice does not give you that green colour - it tinted the batter but the green didn't emerge after baking. I even tried adding natural green colouring and it also tinted the batter, but not the finished cake. Finally, I decided to use a teaspoon of Aroma's artificial paste, to add a bit more flavour (you need quite a bit of pandan juice to do that, and it ends up watering down the batter) and use pandan juice as well. I get a cake that is almost imperceptibly tinted green.

5) Mostly I do an extra 2 egg whites (a total of 8 egg whites) instead of 3. The cake is lighter with 3 extra egg whites, but it doesn't really miss anything other than the height. I also use self-raising flour instead of cake flour with the baking powder

My slightly altered ingredient list : 6 egg yolks; 100 g sugar; 115ml corn oil; 140ml coconut milk; 200g self-raising flour; salt 1/4 tsp; pandan juice 3 tbsp; pandan paste 1 tsp; thick vanilla essence 1 tsp; egg whites 8; caster sugar 100g; cream of tartar 1 tsp

(A) Whisk egg yolks, followed by sugar, oil and coconut milk. Fold in sifted flour and add salt, pandan juice, pandan paste and vanilla esssence. (B) Beat egg whites, add in sugar, cream of tartar and beat till stiff peak. Fold into A into B and bake at 160 degrees fan forced for 55 minutes.

For complete instructions, go here

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