When I fancy a hearty and denser cake, I bake myself a butter cake or a pound cake. Sometimes, I prefer a soft, light, airy, and fluffy cake, and chiffon cake fits that to a tee.
I have previously shared my recipes for an orange chiffon cake and a matcha marble chiffon cake. Today I will share my recipe for a pandan chiffon cake.
For me, the best pandan chiffon cake must use fresh/frozen pandan leaves. But I will give an option to bake this cake with a store-bought pandan extract too since it may not be possible for everyone to get pandan leaves.
For the 100% natural pandan extract, we will need fresh/frozen pandan leaves, canned coconut milk, and water.
If you can’t find fresh/frozen pandan leaves, you can replace it with store-bought pandan extract. My suggestion will be to use the Koepoe-Koeopoe brand pandan paste. You should be able to bake many batches of pandan chiffon cake from even the smallest bottle.
Chiffon cake batter
For the chiffon cake batter, we will need eggs, canola oil (or other neutral-flavored oil), cake flour, baking powder, salt, powdered sugar, and vinegar (or cream of tartar).
You can use all-purpose flour to replace cake flour, but know that your chiffon cake won’t be as light and fluffy as the one using cake flour.
An aluminum pan is essential to baking a chiffon cake, and it must be one that is NOT non-stick.
A chiffon cake pan is very similar to an angel food cake pan. If you live in the US as I do, you may want to get this 7-inch angel food cake pan from Wilton, which is half the size of a regular angel food cake pan.
If you live in Asia, your baking store probably stocks several sizes of chiffon pan. Please choose a 20-cm tube pan to work with this recipe.
1. Pandan extract
Use a pair of scissors to cut pandan leaves into thin strips and place them in the food processor/blender along with coconut milk and water. Grind into a smooth puree, then strain with a fine-mesh strainer or a cheesecloth to extract 1⁄2 cup of pandan extract.
2. Egg yolk batter
Beat egg yolks and powdered sugar in a mixing bowl until well mixed. Add pandan extract and oil, continue beating until well mixed. Sift in cake flour, baking powder, and salt, and beat until just combined.
3. Egg white batter
In another large mixing bowl, whisk egg whites until foamy. Add cream of tartar (or vinegar), followed with powdered sugar in 3 batches, whisk until stiff peak.
4. Chiffon batter
Fold 1⁄3 of egg white batter into egg yolk batter with a whisk/spatula until well mixed, then pour this into the remaining egg white batter and fold again until well mixed.
Baking the cake
Pour the batter into an ungreased and unlined 7-inch angel food pan. Gently tap the pan to remove air bubbles. Bake in the preheated oven of 170 Celsius (335 Fahrenheit) for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 150 Celsius (300 Fahrenheit). Continue baking for another 30-35 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Cooling the cake
Cool the chiffon cake by inverting the pan to prevent the cake from collapsing. It will take about 3-4 hours to cool it to room temperature. Once the cake is completely cool, gently run a thin knife along the edges of the pan to unmold the cake.
1. The cake slides out of the pan when you invert it to cool
The cake is under-baked, and your oven temperature is probably too low. You may need to bake the cake for another 10-15 minutes.
2. The top (previously bottom) of the cake caved in
The oven temperature is too high, causing the cake to over-expand during baking, and in turn, relaxes and sinks during cooling.
3. The top of the cake cracks
Well, this is not the end of the world since we usually serve the cake upside down. So the side that ultimately faces up is the bottom of the cake.
If you wish, after 15 minutes of baking, remove the pan from the oven and quickly make thin slits on the top to control the cracking pattern of the chiffon cake. With this, you don’t need to serve the cake upside down. ;)
4. The top of the cake is too dark
You can tent the cake with an aluminum foil halfway during baking to prevent further browning once the cake develops a nice golden brown color.
5. The cake has big holes
One of these are usually the culprits:
If you are a big fan of chiffon cakes, you may want to give my other chiffon cake recipes a try:
These two recipes also show how you can do a controlled craking if you wish, though it is an optional step.