Welcome to adobo-down-under!

Musings. Family. Food. Stories. Cooking. Recipes. Eating. A recipe journal. From simple Filipino dishes to challenging recipes and exciting gastronomical failures. This is for my girls to look back on for comfort, memories, laughs, love and lots of food!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Pandan chiffon cake

Mum's seeing green!  And so are you!

Mum’s got a confession to make.  Been obsessed lately with trying to look for a pandan chiffon cake recipe, which was featured in the one of the episodes in Masterchef where a favourite contestant was booted out because of this infamous cake. Fortunately found a recipe (not from the Masterchef website) which looked so appealing mum’s just had to bake it!  And mum did!  Over the weekend.  Twice. With 2 different results.  One was as bright green as a luminous green caterpillar  (so bright green it would’ve hurt someone’s eyes) and plumped down resembling a deflated green basketball.  It did smelt of the sweet pandan aroma but with a heavy texture rather than a light fluffy sponge.  This was expected as mum did not fold the batter properly and realised this when pouring the batter into the pan, there were bits of the batter still in a darker green hue  in the bottom of the bowl.  Plus mum forgot to invert the pan immediately as instructed in the recipe.  Tsk. Tsk.  The next cake looked so much better.  Upright and tall, and had that tinge of light green.  Not overpowering.  It also had this slight hint of pandan smell and a super light spongy cake texture.  A success on the second try!  Yay! Or you’d have seen mum messing with green again!

Pandan is a widely available plant in the PI.  It is used mostly for flavouring sweet dishes and sometimes also used to add aroma to cooked rice (the whole pandan leaf is added into the rice before cooking  and once cooked leaves a pandan-infused rice that is so sweet you’d want to eat more).  A Filipino dessert using pandan is the buko-pandan salad which is made of fresh strips of coconut, gelatin flavoured pandan, cream and some coconut milk.  This is a sweet dessert which is also one of our favourites.  We will do a post on this next time.  Another favourite is the Pandan Cake which is a sponge cake infused with pandan flavours, juice or essence which is exactly like this chiffon recipe.      Locally, you’d have to scout around for the pandan leaves here.  I’ve tried several fruit shops and Asian grocers and only found this from the Miracle Supermarket in Macquarie Centre.  The pandan essence or paste was bought from Sakura Supermarket in Eastwood.  The bottle had Chinese or Korean wordings, and I only assumed it is essence because of the thick consistency.  It does have the word pandan in there.

This Pandan Chiffon Cake is adapted from Christine’s Recipes, who also went on a search mode trying to find the same recipe from the Masterchef episode.  Anyways, she made this conveniently available in  her website which also contains thousands of lovely Chinese and Asian recipes which were sure to try in the future, like this Hokkaido Milk Toast and these cute Nutella Cream Horns!  The site is full of useful tips and information, such as “How to fold in egg whites” which mum had to refer to after the first cake attempt.

These are the overly luminous green cake.  The first try.

And this is the second try - lighter green and sponge cake as it should be!

Mum brought some of the’good’ cake to the office for a taste test!  And the verdict!  9/10! Almost perfect, but may need more of the pandan flavours in there.

You will need an ungreased round tube pan with removable base.

Egg yolk batter
5 egg yolks

20g caster sugar

100g cake flour

1 tsp baking powder

100ml coconut milk

2 tbsp pandan juice
(which is 10 leaves fresh or frozen pandan leaves, processed with 1 ½ tbsp water and strained with a muslin cloth)

The pandan leaves (frozen), processed and the finish product: pandan juice!

A few drops of pandan essence
(This was optional in Christine’s recipe but mum decided to use them.  You can tell how much I’ve used in both cakes, so don’t get too excited when using the essence. One drop and add as you continue to see the result you want)

3 tbsp olive oil

Egg white batter
5 egg whites

60g caster sugar

½ tsp cream of tartar

This is the egg yolk mixed with the pandan juice and essence (the first try as you can see by the bright vibrant colour), the egg whites mixture and then the two batters mixed together

1. Preheat oven to 170°C (338°F)

2. Beat the egg yolks with a balloon whisk and mix in 20 g of sugar.  Add coconut milk, pandan juice and a few drops of pandan paste/essence. Combine well.

3. Sift in cake flour and baking powder in three batches into the egg yolk mixture.  Mix well.  Lastly, add oil oil. Set aside.

4. Using a large clean bowl, beat in the egg whites with an electric mixer until bubbles form (its important not to wait for the egg whites to bubble, not foam,  to do the next step).  Add the cream of tartar.  After mixing well, add the 60g of sugar in three batches, about one-third at a time, and beat well between additions.  Continue to beat until stiff peaks form.

5. Spoon out 1/3 of the egg whites mixture and fold  into the yolks batter. Lightly fold in the rest of the egg whites mixture with a spatula, until just combined.

6. Pour into the un-greased cake pan  (Un-greased please!  Why?  Because this is a light sponge cake, you need that ungreased sides for the cake to rise and hold on to the pan) and bake in preheated oven for about 35-40 minutes.  After the first 15 minutes and you find your cake already brown, reduce heat to 150°C (320°F), and continue to bake until cooked through.  A skewer comes out clean when inserted in the middle.

7. Remove cake from oven and invert the pan immediately (on a plate).  Allow it to cool completely.

This was the all important step that Mum missed the first time!  IMPORTANT to turn the pan IMMEDIATELY!

This is an excellent sponge cake!  It can represent  the sweet side of the Filipino food culture, as influenced by the other Southeast Asian countries.  Next stop, to find that Ube (purple yam) Chiffon Cake recipe!

Here’s an important tip when baking!  Read and re-read the recipe and instructions before embarking head on. It usually avoids any disastrous results, more often than not.  Baking is truly an art and when you feel like baking, set the mood and prepare your mise-en-place with a calm mind set.  Baking after all, is almost always, therapeutic.  Aahh.  There’s something about the colour green that is truly calming. Just not too bright.


  1. You have a lovely space! I am joining you for more interesting ideas and would also like to invite you to join my blog too in you like :)


  2. What beautiful coloring, looks so good and rose so nice and light looking.



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