We were inspired to bake this light and airy chiffon cake after seeing it on Palisa Anderson’s ‘Water Heart Food’ series on SBS Food. We followed Palisa’s recipe however have rewritten it below in a way we find easier to follow. If you’re up for a baking challenge we encourage you to give this recipe a go!
We found pandan leaves (frozen) at our local Asian Grocer in Maclean – Asya Trading – which we blitzed up in the blender with water to make the pandan liquid required for the recipe. We did try the canned pandan liquid but found it lacked the colour, fragrance and flavour of the fresh leaves, so we highly recommend using the fresh (or frozen) leaves to make the pandan liquid.
You will need approximately 10 eggs for this recipe, which you need to separate to yield 100g egg yolks and 275g egg whites. Separate the eggs while they are cold, it’s easier, then let the whites come to room temperature before whipping for maximum volume. You will have leftover yolks so make a custard or mayonnaise with those.
You will need a special cake pan for this recipe, it may be called an angel cake pan or a chiffon cake pan, 23cm in diameter. It is round with high sides and a hollow tube in the centre, with a removable base. It is essential that it’s not non-stick, as the batter needs to cling to the sides after baking to maintain the cake’s height and structure. The pan may have built-in feet which keep the cake elevated when turned over. If the pan does not have these feet try using a wine bottle that fits the hole. You can buy the cake pan, here.
This cake keeps really well as it contains egg yolk and oil which keeps it moist. We enjoyed it for several days after baking.
1 bunch pandan
100g egg yolks
200g castor sugar
100ml oil – choose a neutral oil such as sunflower, vegetable or peanut
150ml pandan liquid – see above
200g plain flour
10g baking powder
275g egg whites
50g castor sugar, extra
pinch cream of tartar – optional, but this helps to stabilise the egg white when whisking
1 x 440g can coconut cream, chilled. Put the can in the fridge for several hours, then remove the ‘plug’ of coconut cream that sits on the top – the plug should weigh approximately 150g
180g butter, softened
200g icing sugar, sifted
1/4 cup shredded coconut, toasted
- Pandan liquid – cut the pandan leaves into 5cm lengths and place in a blender with the water and blend on high speed until smooth. Place a sieve over a bowl and line the sieve with a piece of clean Chux or muslin. Pour the pandan liquid into the sieve and gather up the corners of the Chux or muslin and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Discard the pulp and retain the liquid, you’ll need 150ml for the recipe. Freeze any remaining liquid to use another time.
- Cake – Preheat the oven to 160C or 150C fan-forced. Have your cake pan handy but DO NOT grease it – it must be left dry so that the cake clings to it when inverted. In a large mixing bowl combine the egg yolks, and 200g sugar and whisk by hand until thick and creamy. Whisk in the oil and pandan liquid until combined. Then gently whisk in the flour, baking powder and salt.
- Use an electric mixer to whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar (if using), at medium-high speed, until soft peaks form. Next, add the 50g sugar in two additions and continue whisking until stiff peaks form and the mixture is smooth and glossy.
- Take a large spoonful of egg whites and mix this into the pandan mixture – you don’t need to be gentle with this first amount of egg white as it is being ‘sacrificed’ to lighten the mixture which will allow the rest of egg whites to be incorporated more easily. Now gently fold in the remaining egg whites, using a balloon whisk, until fully incorporated.
- Pour the mixture into the cake pan and tap the pan lightly on the bench just to settle any bubbles.
- Bake for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
- Meanwhile, prepare the coconut buttercream – refer to step 11.
- Remove the cake from the oven and immediately invert the cake either onto the bench (if your tin has feet) or onto the neck of a bottle. Allow the cake to cool completely before turning the right way up.
- To remove the cake run a knife or palette knife around the edge to separate it from the side of the pan, then run the knife or palette knife around the base to release the cake.
- Place the cake on a serving plate then use a palette knife to spread the coconut buttercream around the sides and top of the cake and garnish with toasted coconut.
- Coconut buttercream – While the cake is cooling prepare the buttercream. Combine the pure coconut cream (i.e. the plug you removed from the chilled can) and the cornflour in a small saucepan and whisk over medium until thickened and smooth. Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl to cool.
- Beat the butter and icing sugar until thick and creamy then add the cooled coconut cream and beat to combine.