Pandan Chiffon Cake

Updated 21st May 2020.

Hey hello there! It’s been slightly over a month since I last posted. I’m always online and yet busy. If you miss me, come follow me in Instagram. I usually share my cooking, baking, etc stuff there. πŸ˜‰

My last post were about making pandan juice and pandan extract. So you bet I need to use them for something right? I’m sharing with you my pandan chiffon cake making experience including a recipe (adapted from Kitchen Tigress), tips and more tips. I baked three pandan chiffon cakes within 2.5 weeks period until I finally got it quite right on the 3rd trial. During the trials, I learned what makes my chiffon cake cracks quite deeply (slight cracks are ok), why it’s short in height, why my meringue turned liquidy and how to judge the right stiff peaks when whisking egg whites into meringue.

Pandan Chiffon Cake
Pandan chiffon cake. 😍

First let me tell you my personal criteria of a good pandan chiffon cake. It must first and foremost boast the wonderful aroma of pandan and coconut milk, soft, fluffy and moist on the inside, baked to golden brown with natural green color cake (no hideous green highlight cake please). I don’t mind a little crack here and there. Some bubbles are acceptable too. That’s the spice of life!

With that in mind, let’s check out my pandan chiffon cake making journey.

During my first two trials, I followed the recipe mentioned below by beating the egg whites first and preparing the egg yolks mixture second. By the time I finished making the egg yolks mixture and proceed with folding meringues into them, I noticed the meringue at the bottom of the bowl has turned slightly liquidy. I learned that meringue will weep if they sit too long. So, I changed the steps. Make the egg yolks mixture first and then beat the egg whites… so I can fold the meringue into the egg yolks mixture right after that.

22cm Aluminium Chiffon Cake Tin With Removable Base
This is a 22cm aluminium chiffon cake tin with removable base. The recipe calls for 21cm size but I use this instead as I couldn’t find 21cm chiffon cake tin. Didn’t find any fault with it.

Homemade Pandan Extract
This is the homemade pandan extract I made. Notice the separation?

How To Get Pandan Extract
Pour the top layer into a bowl. The remaining dark green sediment in the glass is pandan extract. Measure out 25g of pandan extract.

Now, let’s move on to the pandan chiffon cake recipe which I will include some photos and tips.

Pandan Chiffon Cake
Adapted from Kitchen Tigress
Makes one 22cm round chiffon cake or one 21cm round chiffon cake

*Important: This recipe requires few days advance preparation of homemade pandan extract

Part A:
25g homemade pandan extract (made using 10 pieces matured pandan leaves)
70g fresh coconut milk, undiluted

Alternate method (if you don’t have time to prepare in advance): Make pandan juice from the above mentioned link and measure out 25g.

Part B:
60g egg yolks
50g vanilla castor sugar
60g vegetable oil or palm oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
100g high ratio flour (also known as low protein flour), sifted with baking powder
1 teaspoon baking powder

Part C:
180g egg whites, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
50g vanilla castor sugar

1 x 22cm aluminium chiffon cake tin with removable base

Note 1: You can also use cake flour instead of high ratio flour
Note 2: This recipe is for 21cm round cake tin. I bake mine using 22cm round cake tin.

1. Preheat oven to 180oC.

2. In a medium bowl, combine A: pandan extract with fresh coconut milk. Mix until evenly combined. Put aside.

Combine Pandan Extract With Fresh Coconut Milk
Add pandan extract to fresh coconut milk. Mix well.

Pandan Coconut Milk
Pandan coconut milk.

3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks and vanilla sugar until light and pale.

Light & Pale Whisked Egg Yolks & Sugar
Light and pale egg yolk-sugar mixture.

4. Then add pandan coconut milk from step 2 and vegetable oil into the egg yolks mixture and whisk until incorporated.

Add Pandan Coconut Milk & Vegetable Oil
Add pandan coconut milk and vegetable oil and mix well.

5. Next add high ratio flour + baking powder (sifted together) and salt into the egg yolks mixture. Whisk again until combined. Put aside.

Add Flour, Baking Powder & Salt
Add high ratio flour, baking powder and salt.

Pandan Chiffon Cake Batter In Progress
Whisk until incorporated.

6. In a clean medium mixing bowl (make sure no grease!), whisk egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks. Then gradually (little by little) add vanilla sugar and whisk until just reaching stiff peaks and glossy.

Note: It’s important not to overwhisk (egg whites will turn grainy) and also underwhisk (not reaching stiff peaks). Therefore it’s recommended to use electric hand whisk if possible (for better control) and maintain at medium speed the whole time. To judge if your egg whites have reach stiff peaks, lift the whisk upside down and see if the tip of the peak stands straight up. If it does, it’s stiff peak, if not (either soft or firm peak) continue whisking. I’ve noticed that using this method of judging the peak is not always 100% full-proof because some areas of the egg whites might be stiff and yet some not especially if you’re using electric hand whisk like me. My full proof method is to invert the mixing bowl and when the whites stay right where they are, then I know it has reach stiff peaks. If the egg whites are sliding when you’re inverting the mixing bowl, that means it has not reach stiff peaks.

Firm Peak
Firm peak… not yet. Best way to judge just reaching stiff peaks is to invert the mixing bowl with meringue in it.

7. Add 1/3 of meringue (from step 6) into the egg yolks mixture (from step 5) and fold to combine.

Add One-Third Of Meringue
Add 1/3 meringue and fold to mix them. At this first stage, you don’t care about deflating the meringue. Your main aim is to lighten the mixture.

8. Add 1/2 of the remaining meringue to the egg yolks mixture and fold gently until no streaks of whites are left (do not over-mix). Add the last batch of meringue and fold gently again until the mixture is combined (remember: no white streaks can be seen).

Fold Meringue Gently Until No Streaks Of Whites Left
Remember gentle folding. Here’s how I do my folding: Scoop from the bottom of the center and up the side wall of the bowl as you turn the mixing bowl anti-clockwise.

9. Pour the pandan cake batter into the chiffon cake tin (ungreased!) very gently and slowly at only one spot and also at the lowest height possible. This is to release large trapped air and also make sure you don’t introduce additional air into the cake batter.

Tip: Before pouring the batter, place the cake tin on a baking tray. That way you don’t have to lift the chiffon cake tin into the oven and risk leaking the batter. Place the baking tray with the chiffon cake tin directly into the oven.

Pour Pandan Chiffon Cake Batter
Notice the burst air bubbles as you pour the batter slowly into the cake tin?

10. Smooth the surface with a spatula and gently bang the cake tin twice or thrice on the table to release any additional air.

Note: Some recipes recommend using a chopstick to remove additional air by moving the chopstick few rounds across the batter in the cake tin. I finally found out that by doing this, it causes my cake to have a long crack! I only realized it during my 3rd trial because I saw the cracks were similar to the routes my chopstick has made. I did smoothen the surface with a spatula after using the chopstick but I guess I didn’t cover it properly?! So if you really want to release additional air with a chopstick, make sure you cover back the tracks REALLY properly. For me, I would skip no longer follow this step next time and just proceed with banging the cake tin. πŸ˜‰

Pandan Chiffon Batter In Cake Tin
You might see some of the chopstick markings I made here.

11. Bake at 180oC at the lowest rack for 15 minutes. At this point (15 mins mark), cake is slightly brown and may already or may not crack. Now, place a baking sheet/tray over the cake tin. Alternatively you can also cover with aluminium foil. I prefer the first method as it’s the easiest. Reason for doing this is to reduce heat from top direction.

Place Baking Sheet Over The Chiffon Cake Tin
Place baking sheet over the chiffon cake tin.

Note: You have another alternate way if you don’t want to cover the cake pan with either baking sheet or aluminium foil. That is to reduce the oven temperature to around 170-175oC (baking time will be longer and need to be adjusted accordingly).

12. Continue baking for about 20 minutes (plus minus depends on your oven). When you insert a skewer into the cake and it comes clean, remove the baking sheet/aluminum foil from the cake tin. Bake for another 5-10 minutes until the cake’s surface is golden brown and spring back when touched. Mine is usually done around 8-10 minutes. My total baking time is about 43-45 minutes.

Just Baked Pandan Chiffon Cake - Trial 1
Trial 1: Fresh out of the oven. I did not use a chopstick to remove additional air prior to baking hence the top doesn’t have long deep cracks.

Just Baked Pandan Chiffon Cake - Trial 2
Trial 2: Fresh out of the oven. I used a chopstick to release air in the chiffon batter prior to baking. You can see the long crack right? I also underwhisked the meringue, hence the batter did not rise to its full potential.

Just Baked Pandan Chiffon Cake - Trial 3
Trial 3: Fresh out of the oven. I used chopstick too and this is when I realized the long deep crack was made with the chopstick. The meringue was whisked to just reaching stiff peaks hence this baked result has the best rise.

13. Remove cake from oven and immediately invert the cake tin and place the center tube of the cake tin onto the lid of a glass bottle. Leave it to cool FULLY before proceeding to unmould the chiffon cake.

Inverted Chiffon Cake On Bottle
Invert the chiffon cake tin once it’s out of the oven. Why invert it? Because if you don’t do this, the cake will collapse due to its own weight.

Use Bottle With Wide Lid For Stability
Use a glass bottle with a wide lid for stability and easier balancing.

Tip: I accelerated the cooling time by aiming a stand fan at it. Can usually unmould in less than an hour. *Beh tahan wanna dig in ma. πŸ˜›

Note: Notice most chiffon cake tins come with three jutted edges at the mouth of the tin? My guess is when you invert the cake tin, the three jutted edges become the legs and you actually don’t need a bottle to let it stand. But conscience tells me that if I’m using the three legs to let the cake stand inverted, the cake tin will be near to the table. With warm chiffon cake inside the cake tin and little air between the cake tin and table/baking tray, I’m worry that condensation will happen (although I’ve never tested it). Therefore I recommend invert the cake tin on a medium height glass bottle (for better air circulation).

Inverted Chiffon Cake Wire Rack
I’ve tried inverting the chiffon cake tin directly on a wire rack and will continue this method. Save me time looking for a glass bottle and besides the result is the same.

14. To unmould the pandan chiffon cake, place a large baking sheet under the cake tin (to catch all those crumbs!). Take a palette knife and slowly run it around the sides of the cake tin. When you are doing this, aim the palette knife towards the cake tin and not your cake. Meaning tilts the palette knife at about 1-2 degrees angle towards the cake tin. Because if you aim the knife at your cake, you will cut your cake and won’t have beautiful sides once you unmould it.

Unmould Pandan Chiffon Cake
Use a palette knife to run through the cake’s outer circumference. Slowly and carefully ya.

15. To loosen the cake from the center tube, I prefer using a smaller palette knife or paring knife because they are small enough to run along the tube without damaging the cake. Remember to aim the knife towards the tube and not your cake. Next, dislodge the cake from cake tin compartment. Use a palette knife to finally remove the cake from the tin base by running it around slowly aiming at the tin base.

Unmould Pandan Chiffon Cake
Use a paring knife or smaller palette knife to dislodge the cake from the center tube.

Unmould Pandan Chiffon Cake
Carefully remove the cake tin compartment… and you will come to this.

Unmould Pandan Chiffon Cake
Lastly, remove the cake from tin base with a palette knife (recommended) or knife.

16. Gently turn the cake over and place it on a cake board or serving plate. This means the base of your cake is your top. Cut the pandan chiffon cake to your preferred size and serve. πŸ™‚

17. Since this pandan chiffon cake contains coconut milk, it’s advisable to store in an air-tight container in the fridge if you cannot finish the cake within a day. Best consume within 3 days for optimum flavor and texture.

Have fun chiffon-ing!

Additional tips:
Cross-Section Of Pandan Chiffon Cake Trial 1
Trial 1: Cross-section of pandan chiffon cake
The meringue were underwhisk, hence this cake is short in height and also deflated after cooling (near my thumb area). You can also see some greenish streaks which I guess I didn’t fold the meringue and egg yolks mixture thoroughly.

Cross-Section Of Pandan Chiffon Cake Trial 2

Trial 2: Cross-section of pandan chiffon cake
This chiffon cake is even shorter in height due to underwhisk meringue and also some parts of meringue has turned liquidy. Cake is about 5-6cm in height.

Cross-Section Of Pandan Chiffon Cake Trial 3
Trial 3: Cross-section of pandan chiffon cake
This chiffon cake has the best rise due to use of perfect stiff meringue. Cake is about 7-8cm in height. I also realized I did not fold the meringue and egg yolks properly as some green streaks can be seen.

Despite all the different cosmetic appearances I got from trial 1 to trial 3, all of them taste incredibly wonderful. They are light, fluffy and moist. It is not too sweet either. The coconut milk can sometime be more pronounce than the pandan depending on concentration of both ingredients.

Pandan Chiffon Cake
Baking chiffon cake is not as nightmarish as you think. πŸ˜‰
Remember, you learn something from every mistakes made.

Pandan Chiffon Cake
Writing this post make me wanna make another chiffon cake. πŸ˜›

Do share with others and me if you have any tips or recommendation for making a good chiffon cake.

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  • Reply Toh Wei Meng January 27, 2018 at 7:42 am

    Hi Amy
    The pandan cake was so good. It was my first ‘successful’ attempt . I couldnt resist trying again. On first try it was soft n flavourful but did not rise enough. On the next trial it went to 8 cm ht! Was soft n spongy. The flavour was less intense. I think i used pandan juice instead of extract. Cos i was too anxious to wait for it! The rise i think was cos the stiffer meringue. Though the batter appeared more thick n did not flow down the tin smoothly as in first trial. Cant wait to try again. Thanks for sharing ur wonderful recepie.

    • Reply Che-Cheh January 28, 2018 at 2:48 pm

      Hi Wei Meng, glad it was a success! Stiff peak meringue is the answer. πŸ™‚

  • Reply Sharon December 11, 2018 at 1:18 pm

    Can u please let me know the conversion of 25g pandan extract and 70g of santan into cups please

    • Reply Che-Cheh December 11, 2018 at 2:17 pm

      Hi Sharon, I’ve not idea. I stopped using cups for baking long ago. I highly recommend using a weighing scale to measure out all baking related creations. Get one that have gram and ounce.

  • Reply Ellie May 20, 2020 at 6:52 pm

    Hi Che Chen. My batter was a bit runny and it leaks out of the base of the tin when I put it into the oven to bake, what is tat so?a

    • Reply Che-Cheh May 21, 2020 at 10:00 am

      Hi Ellie, before pouring the batter into the chiffon cake tin, place the cake tin on a baking tray. That way, you don’t have to lift the chiffon cake tin into the oven and risk leaking the batter. Place the baking tray with chiffon cake tin on it directly into the oven.

  • Reply Ning June 17, 2020 at 9:19 pm

    Hi Che-Cheh, I tried baking the pandan chiffon cake but it turn out the inner color is not green but quite brown. Could it be i’m using matured pandan leaves extract juice that causes it?

    • Reply Che-Cheh June 18, 2020 at 10:29 am

      Hi Ning, I use matured pandan leaves to make pandan extract. Whenever I didn’t use enough pandan (to make into juice – sometimes lazy to make extract), the chiffon (interior) will be light green or sorta yellow.

      What is the color of your batter? Is it as green as in the photo? If no, maybe you can use more pandan extract when you make chiffon cake next time or use more pandan leaves to make the extract.

  • Reply Jojo February 23, 2021 at 11:42 pm

    Would you be able to advise why my chiffon cake so brown both top and bottom?

    • Reply Che-Cheh February 24, 2021 at 10:24 am

      Hi Jojo, mine is very brown too. For lighter crumb, you can experiment with the temperature. Use lower temperature and adjust the baking time.

  • Reply RILEY April 18, 2022 at 8:55 pm

    Glad to chance upon your post. Mine was crack at the top after 6th tries, only to realise cracks are inevitable.

    Thank you for sharing!

    • Reply Che-Cheh April 19, 2022 at 12:51 pm

      Hi Riley, you can make chiffon cake without cracking at the top. You would need to bake at a much lower temperature. But then, yeah for me a little crack here and there is okay as it’s for my own consumption.

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