I have been in a blogging rut of sorts this past week. No oomph to post anything even though I have got a couple of recipes that I’ve tried later that I should blog about. The other reason is work I guess. I’ve been going home at about 10pm everyday, which means I’ve only got energy left to bathe and sleep when I get home. Even exercise plans have been put on hold because I can’t bring myself to wake up at 6am for my run. And plans to run near the office have not materialize because I much rather complete my work and get home than run and work later. Like today, I slept in late till 8am (because of my darn body clock) and finally am going out for lunch with the girls later. But after that, it’s back to work – yes, even though it is Labour Day :/
Anyway, I really wanted to support Aspiring Bakers this month in April (cos it’s 1 May today!) because layered cakes are really a favorite of mine to make, and I had a couple of birthdays this month to bake cakes for, but sometimes the best laid plans of mice and men go awry. Plans to make a chocolate entremet were also put on hold, even though I’ve already got the joconde and feuilletine layer done. As Benjamin Franklin once said, diligence overcomes difficulties, sloth makes them.
SO even though I’ve missed the deadline for Aspiring Bakers, I have decided to exercise some diligence by posting up some instagram photos (with various effects) of this layered chiffon cake that I made for my brother for his 21st birthday earlier this year. This was when I was in my ombre craze – cue the pink ombre layered cake I made for my mom and perhaps a ton other color gradients (brown, blue, yellow, etc) which I experimented with :]
Since my brother doesn’t usually like to eat my cakes, I actually had no plans to make any for him, but I was back at home idling and itching to make a cake, so I decided to make him one anyway even if he didn’t want it. I don’t have much baking equipment back in my home in Malaysia, so I had to make do with what I had. So that meant that chocolate cakes were out since I didn’t have any cocoa powder back home. What I had however, was lots of pandan because my mom has a pandan plant in the garden. So I decided on a green ombre cake, made using pandan leaves and a tad of green coloring for the darkest green layer. This was perfect, because I know my brother loves traditional flavors and since he’s in the army, what better color to represent him that green? :]
I try to stick with as natural coloring as possible, so the bottom two layers are made completely with natural pandan extract pounded with a mortar and pestle whereas the final layer had a little help from a few drops of green coloring. I know the cream sandwiching the layers are very meagre, but that’s really because my brother is not a fan of cream of any sorts, and would scrap off any cream he sees on a cake, so I decided to save him the trouble by putting minimal cream in between and very ‘scrapable’ whipped cream on the outside.
My Mother’s Pandan Chiffon Cake
5 egg yolks
60g olive oil or melted butter
70g castor sugar
¼ tsp salt
110g pandan juice*
125g all-purpose flour
Green coloring, where required
6 egg whites
⅛ tsp cream of tartar
*Make pandan juice by pounding at least 20 pandan leaves with 100g of water or milk. I make mine with milk. You can blitz the leaves if you don’t have a mortar and pestle.
Note: I have not compared my mom’s recipe with other recipes, but I’m pretty sure that this recipe is similar to many other pandan chiffon recipes out there. Nevertheless, I still stand by this being my mom’s original recipe because the amounts are derived from my mom’s twenty years of experimentation in the kitchen. Also, the method below outlines the traditional method of making the pandan chiffon cake. How I actually made the layered cake will be outlined in my jots below.
- Preheat the oven to 170°C.
- Place the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar into a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. This should take about 5 minutes or more depending on the power of your mixer. You should be able to overturn your bowl without anything falling out of it.
- In another large mixing bowl, mix the egg yolks with oil, salt and sugar. Do not add the sugar directly onto the yolks because it will turn lumpy. Mix the yolks with oil first before adding the salt and sugar. Then, add in the pandan juice and all-purpose flour. Mix well until you have a smooth paste.
- Spoon a tiny portion of the egg white mixture (about ⅛ or 2 spatulas worth of egg white) and mix it into the egg yolk mixture to loosen the mixture. Then, lightly fold in ⅓ of the egg white into the yolk mixture. Continue folding in the remaining egg whites, making sure that it is well combined and you get a homogeneous pale green batter.
- Pour the batter into 3 6-inch round tins (ungreased and unlined) or a 23cm chiffon tin. Give the tin a few raps against the kitchen counter to ensure that there is no trapped air.
- For the 6-inch rounds, bake for about 25 minutes. For the 23cm chiffon, bake for about 35-40 minutes. The top of the cake should be a light brown and an inserted skewer should come out clean.
- After removing the tins from the oven, invert the tins immediately over a cooling rack. Allow the cake to cool for at least 20 minutes before unmoulding and serving.
- How to make a layered ombre cake: If you are lazy like me and don’t wish to repeat the same processes above three times just to get three different colors, you can opt for the lazy method by making the above recipe and dividing it into three batters. First, you have to make a ‘concentrated pandan juice’. I did this by pounding the pandan leaves with 50g of water, which gave me a very dark green liquid. I then diluted this with varying amounts of milk to get three different color gradients. What I did then was to combine the egg yolk mixture with all the ingredients except the pandan juice, then dividing the portions equally into three bowls before mixing in the pandan juice. For the darkest mixture, I added in a few drops of green coloring to get the dark green color. You cannot get such a color with just natural pandan extract, trust me. As for the egg whites, I was lazy too, so I measured the weight of the bowl before and after mixing the whites and then apportioned the stiff egg whites between three bowls and folded them in gently. Bake as per above. As for the whipped cream in between the layers on the outside, you can use a stabilized whipped cream recipe or you can opt for the lazy method (like I did here) and whip 200g of cream together with 30g of icing sugar. Whip until you get almost stiff peaks and you’re done.
- Taste: I’m not quite a fan of pandan chiffon – I tend to prefer orange chiffons, but I could tell that my brother and my family enjoyed the cake a lot and I thought the pandan flavor was not too overwhelming. Just perfect :]
- Texture: Because I used round tins instead of the standard chiffon tin, the chiffon cake was slightly more compact than usual, mainly because the cake requires metal in the centre to assist it in rising. Nevertheless, the chiffon cake was still delicious.
- Serving size: This makes a 3 layered 6-inch cake, which is just enough for a family of five to have about 1-2 servings each.
- Modifications: None. If you want a more traditional taste, you can opt for coconut milk instead of normal fresh milk. Or you could use kaya to sandwich the layers.
- Storage: The cake was consumed right after I constructed it, but usually chiffon cakes without any cream can last a couple of days at room temperature.
- Would I make this again?: Definitely! This pandan chiffon cake is one of my mom’s hand-me-down recipes to me, and is definitely something I treasure because no further tweaking to it is needed :]