Joyce's Open Kitchen, literally

Edited in (): Pandan chiffon cake – 1st attempt (2nd attempt)

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I tried making pandan chiffon for the first time yesterday. I was inspired after seeing tasteofmalaysia’s posting which somehow did not seem so daunting to me. To familiarize myself with the steps, I crossed-referenced with a handful more recipes online. One thing I’ve learned is that by doing so, i can tap into others’ experience, pick up the patterns and reduce the risk of failure.

Ieatishootipost has an awesomely analytical detailed (yet delightful) post on pandan cake, a result of him spending months trying out different recipes to achieve his perfectly sculpted as well as perfect in taste pandan chiffon cake. I did pick up many useful tips & insights but I was careful not to be too anal in following everything he wrote lest I scared myself off attempting it again.

I am glad I didn’t. My yield was not perfect. A couple of major flaws, in fact. But I was really happy with the whole process, albeit slightly high-strung as I had a carpenter in my kitchen as well doing some repair work for our cabinets and I had to skirt around him while keeping an eye on my napping children.

My limitations:
1. I thought I had a chiffon tube tin. Turned out I only had a bundt tin (or maybe that elusive tin is still hiding in there somewhere) which I resorted to using.
2. The eggs I have were not fresh. Already encountered this problem a few times recently. I gotta start learning from ieatishootipost by choosing eggs based on the longest expiry dates.
3. I was a bit doubtful about the pandan juice that I extracted. I have a feeling I could have blended the leaves even longer which may result in more fragrant (& concentrated) pandan juice.
4. A carpenter who kept rubbing shoulders & backsides with me as we were forced to work back to back along my kitchen isle.

The flaws:
1. I have a huge long pocket of air trapped in the bottom of the tin resulting in an ugly uncooked congealed stripe around my cake base.
2. There are still some big bubbles trapped in the batter.
3. The coconut milk taste is too empowering while the taste of pandan is somewhat weak.
4. And my cake could be greener in appearance.

Despite all these flaws, I see potential in retaining this recipe and modifying it as well as adding a few more steps to avoid future similar pitfalls. This is because it yielded a really soft, fluffy and moist enough cake. And. The girls ate it! That’s something as the girls are cake snobs.

With all these in mind, here’s my version of the recipe for my next attempt:

Yield: 23cm pandan chiffon cake

Ingredients:
120g pandan leaves
3/4 cup water

(1/2 tsp pandan paste)

100ml fresh pasteurized coconut milk

5 (4) egg yolks, room temperature
35g fine caster sugar
40ml canola oil

120g cake flour
3/4 (1) tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

6 egg whites, room temperature
55g fine caster sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

Method:
Preheat oven at 180 degrees Celsius. Adjust shelves to most top & most bottom level.

Cut off all the sharp ends and whitish parts (near the roots) of the pandan leaves and discard. To extract pandan juice, finely slice leftover pandan leaves using scissors and blend it with 3/4 cup of water. Using all your might (seek the help of my super strong helper), squeeze out the pandan juice using a sieve/ muslin cloth. Discard the pulp.

Top up the 100ml of coconut milk & pandan paste with pandan juice until a total of 180ml. Set aside. (Leftover pandan juice may be refrigerated for a week.)

Sieve flour, baking powder and salt together. Set aside.

Whisk egg yolk with 35g caster sugar until it tripled in volume and is pale & light.

Add in canola oil, and then pandan mixture, gradually while whisking until incorporated. Add in flour mixture and mixed well until batter is smooth.

Using a glass / stainless steel absolutely clean & dry bowl, whisk egg white at medium speed until it is bubbly.

Add in 55g caster sugar, whisk at slightly higher than medium speed until soft peak.

Add in cream of tartar, increase to high speed and keeping very close eyes, whisk until glossy & stiff. Just before stiff peak. Meringue should not slide when bowl is tilted. You may literally turn bowl upside down and it will not drop out. Be careful not to over-beat.

Add in 1/3 of meringue into pandan mixture & hand-whisk / spatula gently to combine.

Then add in the remaining meringue into the pandan mixture and fold in GENTLY using spatula until incorporated. Ensure that batter is evenly mixed with no whitish (meringue) specks floating around nor darker green specks of mixture sitting in the bottom.

Bang the bowl of cake batter against table top a few times to release the big air bubbles.

WITHOUT turning the cake tin, pour the cake batter into the tin very slowly so that bigger air bubbles are being released into the air as the batter flows into the tin. After all the batter has been poured into the cake tin, stick in a chopstick and go round the tin a few times to further release any pockets of air trapped inside. Thereafter, smoother the surface with a spatula.

Bake in the oven at the bottom shelf for 45 minutes. At around 15-25 minutes, the cake will have risen to the brim and starts to crack. Place a large cookie tray at the top shelf to moderate the contact heat with the top of the cake. If need be, reduce temperature slightly.

Remove cake from the oven, place a funnel at the centre and invert the cake to cool on a cooling rack. Remove cake from tin only when it is completely cooled (at least 1.5 hours). Using a serrated knife, remove cake from the tin.

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