Celebrating Food! Celebrating Life!

Reviving Memories…Pandan Chiffon

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For a lot of us, pandan chiffon is one cake which has a special place in our hearts. It is probably THE cake which we eat the most often when we were young, staples from the old- school neighbourhood confectioneries, which were usually characterised by rotating ceiling fans, and small mozaic tile floors. It existed long before the chicken floss coated mayonaise buns, and would probably continue to exist long after the latter fade off one day. Its popularity seem to run alongside other familiar favorites like egg tarts, napkin butter sponge cake and hae bee hiam soft buns.

After baking a yuzu chiffon sometime back, I’d been looking around for a good pandan chiffon recipe. Often times, enjoying a good pandan chiffon is one thing, trying to bake one is another. The latter is often a very frustrating, often nightmarish ordeal, finding the right recipe, getting the right ingredient proportions etc. And what’s more, each of us has a tick-off list of qualities a good pandan chiffon should imbue, and often the yardstick is different and personal. the right degree of “fluffiness”, moisture, sweetness, coconuty aroma, pandan fragrance, savoury (yes! salt is an important component!) and even the level of “maillardiness” (if there’s such a word) which the outer skin should have! And needless to say, the list runs on. What’s more there are often tough choices to make. homemade pandan paste versus storebought pandan extract, freshly squeezed coconut milk versus tetrapak pasteurised coconut cream… decisions, decisions, decisions.

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2 weeks back, Eelin from the batter baker made a matcha chiffon and was so elated by the results, she sploshed news of it all over msn and facebook. It sure sounded she made the next major archaelogical discovery after the uncovering of the Qin terracottas. Needless to say, curious me had to know which recipe she used. And I’m so glad I probed on. Tried the recipe last Sunday night and true to her words, the chiffon was delicious! The best I’ve made so far for sure and a recipe I look forward to use as a base for other flavours!

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First is to make some pandan paste. A simple but somewhat laborious task of snipping pandan leaves into small thin strips and blitzing the leaves in a food processor with as little water added as possible. This is a method I learnt from Wendy from Wendyinkk.

Untitled-2The emerald-coloured pulp pressed down through a sieve to collect as much juice as possible.

for making pandan paste from Wendyinkk’s brilliant method of extracting concentrated pandan juice.

15-20 pandan leaves, at least a foot long each and at least 1 – 2 fingers girth wide

water

rinse the leaves carefully to remove any dirt, soil, spider webs and even mealy bugs especially near the bottom of the leaves where they narrow and join to the roots

using kitchen scissors, snip the the leaves into strips, as finely as possible. This is laborious but worth the effort as it would make the blending process much more efficient later.

place pandan leaf strips into blender and add water until it is just sufficient for the leaves to be blended. The volume of water added needs to be controlled according to the number of leaves used, and the size of the leaves. Add just sufficient for the blades of the blender to run smoothly. Allow it to blitz for at least a couple of minutes until it forms a fine pulpy mash.

Filter the mixture through a very fine sieve or cheesecloth and pour into a clear jug or glass/clear plastic bowl.

Cover with cling film and leave in the fridge undisturbed for at least 2 days. Do not leave it along the latch compartments on the fridge doors as repeated opening and closing with shake the mixture, rendering the process futile.

After about 2 days, the suspension will separate, leaving the concentrated pandan juice should settle to the bottom and an almost clear liquid on top. Carefully separate the concentrated pandan juice from the top clear liquid by either decanting, or what I find easier, using a turkey baster.

freshly prepared concentrated pandan juice should be used within 2 days, or freeze using ice-cube tray for later use.

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The recipe adapted from Leslie Tay’s wife’s aunt’s, which he shared over his website. The highlight for this is the use of more egg whites, corn oil and cake flour this recipe called for compared to others.

Recipe (adapted and modified from here) for a 21 cm diameter tube pan

ingredients

Group A

4 egg yolks

50g caster sugar

60g of corn oil

100g of coconut cream

130g cake flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

2 tsp concentrated pandan juice

2 tsp pandan paste (see modifications)

1 tsp vanilla essence

Group B

6 egg whites

60g caster sugar

1/2 tsp cream of tartar

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Method

cream egg yolks with sugar until pale and creamy. It should have more than double its volume

add corn oil, coconut cream, pandan juice  pandan paste, pandan paste and vanilla essence.

add remaining dry ingredients i..e cake flour and baking powder until well incorporated

prepare meringue by whisking egg whites at high speed until it turns foamy

add cream of tartar followed by caster sugar in at least 3 additions into egg whites while still beating

whisk until stiff peaks are JUST obtained.

take 1/3 of the meringue and fold into egg yolk-flour batter. do this quickly until a thinner mixture is obtained. This bit of egg white is “sacrificed” for a more homogenised mixture which allows the subsequent meringue additions to be folded in more smoothly

repeated the process with remaining meringue in 2 successions, but this time, folding more slowly and carefully so as not to deflate it too much and destroy the meringue structure

fold until no more egg white bits can be seen. do not overfold as more folding means more deflating

pour batter into tube pan and while grasping  tightly to the sides, rap the tube pan against a hard surface to remove any air bubbles. Alternatively, a wooden skewer or satay stick can be used to dredge through the batter very carefully to bring any large trapped air pockets to the surface.

bake in a preheated oven at 170C for about 40 min.

take the pan out once the baking is done and immediately invert the pan to cool.

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Reflections and Modifications

I heavily modified the recipe, especially in terms of sugar content. even then, I still find it too sweet. will have to tweak it if I try the recipe again.

the cake texture is amazingly soft and moist. Its much closer to what I personally find desirable in a good pandan chiffon. Not meaning to be anal retentive but its still a teeny weeny bit dense. Wonder if has to do with the coconut cream (I used Kara) or flour. I would experiment with substituting half the coconut cream with dried coconut powder and/or cutting back the flour amount by 20% to see if it takes away more of the heft.

ok ok… it looks grotesquely green i know. I added Koepoe Koepoe’s pandan paste when I noticed that the batter wasn’t coloring up much after the concentrated pandan juice was added. But 2 tsps of pandan paste is admittingly an overkill. maybe I would just add 3 tsps of concentrated pandan juice and 1 tsp of pandan paste next time. But aroma is fantastic and far more natural that those by Bake King or Red Man.

Elevate the cake by supporting the “chimney” of the tube pan over an inverted glass. This is to “air” the cake surface so as to prevent condensation from forming.

The cake was baked to the max at 40 min and I’m glad I did. The sides and top of the cake “malliarded” beautifully producing a wonderful aroma from slightly burnt confections. But still the top domed and cracked quite a bit but I’m ok with that.

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If you have any good tips for a smackeroo helluva good pandan chiffon, I’m dying to hear from you!

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19 responses

  1. Just adore the colour. Now you are tempting me on this one.

    August 11, 2011 at 11:55 am

  2. I use my mother’s recipe and it always turns out great with all-natural pandan juice. The color of pandan paste turns me off personally. For this recipe I think 100g coconut milk (I use freshly squeezed for mine) may be too much, a bit of oil in its place will probably do the trick.

    I’m no pandan chiffon cake expert though, I’ve grown up with my mother’s and prefer hers over the ones sold outside. ;)

    August 11, 2011 at 3:09 pm

  3. It looks a little too green for my liking too. My mom’s recipe uses all natural pandan juice as well, but she pounds in the mortar and I find that the cake is pretty green. I also use milk instead of coconut cream. Perhaps you should try coconut milk instead? I think it shouldn’t be too dense after that. And about the sweetness, I’ve tried reducing the total amount of sugar to about 80g and it’s just sweet enough for me. Not too sure if you can reduce any less than that because it might tweak the structure of the chiffon too much!

    August 11, 2011 at 3:16 pm

  4. you know what, those are my mom’s favorite….in fact i think any auntie will welcome them with open arms. love the vibrant green of yours :)

    August 11, 2011 at 10:00 pm

  5. Alan (travellingfoodies)

    thanks for the input ladies!!! keep ‘em coming please! Love all your comments!

    August 11, 2011 at 10:37 pm

  6. So I see you enhanced the green color with Koepoe Koepoe’s pandan paste! That makes the green very different from what I used to see. I believe in you 100% that this cake soft and moist and in my opinion, those sold at the shops got NO fight with yours! This pandan chiffon cake is my mum’s favorite cake so I will use your recipe to make one and see how many times I need to do before I can get one that can come close to yours:D Thanks for sharing the recipes an all the good tips. Have a wonderful weekend my friend.

    August 13, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      oh yes i did. but its a tad too green for my liking… its like screaming green!!! Will definitely cut back on the pandan paste next time. But I will use it again and not opt for 100%, somehow 100% doesnt smell as fragrant but rather “grassy”…..need to tweak the recipe further. so watch this space, veronica!

      August 16, 2011 at 11:06 pm

  7. I love the green colour of your chiffon cake and I can eat at least half of the chiffon cake because of the pandan flavour in it.

    August 15, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      hi Ann, its a bit too green for me but it smells really good indeed. I’m sure you can make a helluva good pandan chiffon cake as well!

      August 16, 2011 at 11:07 pm

  8. i’m sure many of the bloggers out there have very good pandan chiffon recipe. I’m also keeping one but have not baked a pandan chiffon for more than a year! Infact just baked a sweet potato one this morning.

    August 16, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      ooooooooh please bake the pandan chiffon recipe soon and share it! I’m all eager to learn from you, Lena! :)

      August 16, 2011 at 11:09 pm

  9. From first look I thought it was matcha chiffon lol. Pandan chiffon must taste so good, drooling now lol

    August 17, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      oh yeah, its pandan, you familiar with this plant? i’m hoping to do a matcha one soon too :)

      August 18, 2011 at 12:18 am

  10. Is Pandan and Screw Pine the same flavor? I had some screw pine flavored wheat cakes that I got at an Asian market and I love the taste. I must try pandan now too! I like the green color, it does seem a little bit too flourescent but what a surprise when you cut it! Can I use only paste if I can’t find fresh locally? Thanks for sharing, I’m learning so much going through your blog!

    March 21, 2012 at 7:32 am

  11. Alan (travellingfoodies)

    Hi Matina! Pandan is screwpine as you’d mentioned. They are an essential in Asian dessert making, especially in an array of steamed cakes favoured by folks in this region. Yes, you can use pandan paste of course. It works well as a substitute, but nothing beats using the real thing of course!

    Thanks for going through my blog! I’m looking at yours too incidentally!

    March 21, 2012 at 7:41 am

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