First time pandan cake eaters usually lift up an eyebrow or showcase an expression of serious doubt on their face when confronted with this cake. I have to admit, you probably don’t come a cross a green cake every day. At least not on this side of the world.
This cake is one of my childhood favourites. It’s light, fluffy, velvety and uhm… yeah, green. Its distinctive color (and scent) comes from a palm plant called pandan. The leaves are widely used in Asian cooking due to its handsome fragrance. So besides color the leaves, together with coconut, give this bake an irresistible smell. I have to warn you… it’s addictive.
Every time the cake comes out of the oven it usually doesn’t survive the end of the day in our home. Even worse, it starts with the batter suffering attacks before even getting in to the oven. My bad. I have no discipline whatsoever when it comes to pastry and batter and me telling my self it only ‘tasting’. I am weak and have no defense. And no excuse. But that’s not the point.
Pandan cake can be made in all kinds of ways:
- By store bought cake mix, available at an Asian grocery store.
- From scratch with store bought pandan extract, also from the Asian grocery store.
- From scratch with homemade extract from pandan leaves from… wait for it… the Asian grocery store.
This recipe follows method number 3. From scratch with homemade extract. If you choose to go with number 2 just skip the extract making part.
Makes a cake of approx. 22-24 cm:
- 6 pandan leaves, chopped
- 6 eggs, separated
- 40 ml coconut oil, or another plant based oil (no olive oil!)
- 80 ml coconut milk
- 20 en 80 gr caster sugar
- Sifted into a bowl:
- 80 gr flower
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- Preheat the oven to 170 °C.
- Place chopped pandan leaves in a food processor and add 2 tablespoons water. Blend about 1 minute until leaves are a fine paste. If the mixture is thick just add an extra tablespoon of water. Strain mixture through a cloth, squeezing out as much juice as you can. It should be close to 4 tablespoons.
- Beat the egg yolks and 20 gr of sugar together for about 5 minutes. It will turn in to a slightly lighter color with a light texture. Add oil, keep whisking until its blended in, then add the coconut milk en pandan extract. Keep beating. Note that if you are using store bought extract you’ll need less. It way stronger than our home made extract. Using too much will make the cake taste soapy. Ew! Gradually add flower-baking powder-mixture whilst still beating until smooth and velvety . Set aside.
- In a clean bowl whisk the egg whites until foamy then gradually add the 80 gr of sugar. Keep whisking! Once the eggs have started to from stiff peaks (congrats you now have meringue!). Now fold 1/3 into the egg yolk mixture and beat it in. Fold the rest of the egg whites (gently) into the mixture until it has an even color. Be careful not to lose the airiness of the batter.
- Pour the batter in the baking pan and let it bake for 60 minutes. Check if it’s done by pricking a skewer into the cake. I fit comes out dry, it’s done. If not, it needs a couple more minutes. Once done leave it to cool. Honestly I have no patience and dive in after some 10 minutes :)
Btw, if you happen to have still have some pandan leaves, chuck one into the pan when you are cooking rice. Trust me, it’s great.