You might have noticed I have gone down the rabbit hole of Filipino desserts lately. The first thing that attracted me was the beautiful purple of ube and the whole ube halaya pandesal craze on Instagram. Although, my daughter denies that it is a craze in any feed other than my own! The next natural step was pandan with its beautiful neon green color (only achieved by extracting the juice from the leaves yourself or adding food color). To me, pandan extract has a nutty aroma and is naturally paired with coconut in this chiffon cake as well as pandan pandesal. I have never been to the Philippines nor have I been to a Pinoy bakery but this is what I think a pandan chiffon should taste and feel like and I would be happy to have your feedback!
Obviously I didn’t grow up with these recipes so you might be wondering how I have any business posting recipes with which I have very little [relative] experience. Well, I probably don’t! But, actually, the reason why I love baking so much is because there are formulas, or standard methods, for everything. An enriched bread is constructed similarly whether it is a mallorca or a brioche or a concha. The percentages of butter to flour is comparable across recipes and the way the butter is incorporated into the dough is similar. Same thing can be said for a pie dough or a shortcrust pastry. Butter percentages tend to be around 65% (of flour; ingredients are always given as a percentage of the flour). But some recipes like that of Stella Parks’ for example are 100% so then I know that it will be especially sensitive to temperature and I need to work quickly.
Same principles apply to chiffon cakes. Most chiffons have a sugar percentage of 130%. So when I’m looking at different recipes I find on the internet for pandan chiffon I start by assessing percentages of the ingredients and comparing them to “standards.” For me, the standards are formulas from professional baking textbooks or other reliable cookbooks like that of Rose Levy Beranbaum, for example. If the percentages don’t look quite right I try to adjust them. This is how I start every new baking venture. I sit with all my books and an assortment of recipes and my calculator. Then I make adjustments after every bake. I tried this pandan chiffon three times before I was happy.
- A chiffon really does work best in a non-stick angel food cake pan with little feet so you can flip it over after baking. If you don’t have one use a tube pan and then flip it over onto a long-necked beer bottle with a weight inside.
- It is important to avoid deflating the meringue so you need to fold it into the egg yolk batter carefully. Traditionally this is done by making J-folds with a rubber spatula. I learned the technique of using a whisk from Sherry Yard: do not use it like a beater but rather cut through the batter gently, turn a quarter turn and do it again, repeat until the meringue is incorporated then switch to the spatula to fold from the bottom. This gets it done much quicker as it is like several spatulas in one cutting through the batter.
Pandan Chiffon Cake
- 7 large eggs room temp, separated
- 250 g cake flour
- 6 g salt 1 tsp
- 8 g baking powder 2 ½ tsp
- 325 g sugar divided; approx 1 ¾ cups
- 105 g vegetable oil 7½ Tbsp or a scant ½ cup
- 208 g coconut cream* room temp
- 1 Tbsp pandan extract
- ¾ tsp cream of tartar
- 2-3 drops green food coloring**
- Preheat oven to 340°F.
- Sift the flour, salt and baking powder together in a small mixing bowl.
- In a separate large mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks, half of the sugar, and oil together. Add the coconut milk and pandan extract and whisk until well combined. Add food coloring to your preferred shade.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat cream of tartar and egg whites at medium speed until you reach soft peaks. While mixer is running slowly pour in remaining half of sugar in a steady stream. Increase speed to high and continue beating until stiff, glossy peaks achieved. Do not over beat the meringue — it should look glossy not foamy like shaving cream.
- Add the meringue to the egg yolk batter in four portions gently folding in after each addition until you can no longer see chunks of meringue (but it is better to under mix and leave a few clumps than over mix and completely deflate the meringue). See notes.
- Pour the batter into an ungreased angel food cake or tube pan. Tap several times on the counter to get rid of air bubbles.
- Bake at 340°F for 45-50 minutes or until a cake tester or long skewer inserted in the cakes comes out free of crumbs.
- Immediately flip the pan over onto its feet and cool completely (about 1 ½ hrs).
- Release the sides and center of the cake with a dull knife, then invert cake onto serving platter.
- This cake can be stored in airtight container for 2-3 days.
- Full fat canned coconut milk (not drink) can be substituted
- I used Americolor leaf green