I’ve been seeing a lot of videos on TikTok of people trying a pandan cake from a bakery in London, called Chinatown Bakery.
IT ALWAYS LOOKS SO SOFT AND FLUFFY and the colour is pretty. I needed to try it.
The bakery is no where near me though, so I decided to make the cake myself.
What is pandan?
In case you are wondering ‘WHAT IS PANDAN ???’, let me give a quick explanation.
Pandan is a plant, that is grown in Southeast Asia. It is used in quite a few different Southeast Asian foods and dessert. I’ve only ever had it in desserts though.
I’ve tried 2 desserts that had pandan in them, I LOVED THEM. The flavour was amazing.
I was trying to think how to describe the flavour, I could not figure it out. So I went to Google.
Turns out a lot of people can’t describe the flavour either.
It’s like vanilla, but with coconut and floral aspects to it. I don’t know if this helps, but this is the best way I’ve seen it been described.
You know how vanilla is kind of a mild flavour, but it makes a difference. Pandan is kind of the same, of course you can make the flavour stronger if you wanted too. But I feel like it acts the same way vanilla acts.
Personally, I actually like pandan more than vanilla. If it didn’t turn things green, I would use it for everything.
Pandan chiffon cake
For this cake, we are making a chiffon cake.
I have no idea what kind of cake the bakery in London sells. I couldn’t find much information on it.
So I went with a chiffon cake, I felt like this would give the fluffiest, softest results.
For the flavouring, I did just use pandan extract. I do see people make pandan desserts with actual pandan leaves. But I couldn’t find a place that sold pandan leaves near me.
So instead I used pandan extract that I got from Amazon!
Ingredients for this pandan cake
Here are the ingredients you are going to need to make this:
- Eggs – we’re going to whip the egg whites and the egg yolks separately.
- Cream of tartar – this helps stabilise your whipped egg whites, which makes them fluffier, which will then give you a fluffier cake. If you didn’t have it, you could replace it with 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. But I do recommend using cream of tartar, it works better.
- Granulated sugar – caster sugar works too. In the recipe card, you will see the sugar written twice in the ingredient list. This isn’t a mistake, it’s just because we are going to whip 125g of sugar with the egg whites, and then 125g with the egg yolks.
- Oil – for some moisture. Any flavourless oil works, I use vegetable oil.
- Cold water – I’m going to be honest, I don’t know why this water has to be cold. Every chiffon cake recipe I see uses cold water. So I did too, I have no idea what the reason. It doesn’t have to be ice cold water, just cold water from your tap.
- Pandan extract – I ended up using 2 teaspoons of this. You can add more if you want a stronger flavour, or less if you want a milder flavour.
- Plain flour – also known as all purpose flour.
- Baking powder – to help the cake rise.
- Salt – to enhance the flavours.
Don’t grease your cake tins and don’t use non-stick tins
There are 2 things you need to remember when making chiffon cakes, the 1st thing is to not grease your cake tins.
I am a scientist (I am not) so let me explain why.
Basically with cakes like this, ones that have whipped eggs in them, these kind of cakes rely on the whipped eggs to help them rise.
As the cake bakes, the whipped eggs are going to grip onto the sides of your tin, this is what is going to make the cake rise. Essentially, your batter is using the sides of the tin to help it climb up.
If you grease your tins or use non-stick tins, the batter will not be able to climb up.
So don’t grease your cake tins and use a non non-stick tin. I don’t know what they’re called, just a regular tin I guess.
Instead just add a square of baking paper to the bottom of the tins. Or a circle of baking paper if you decide to use round tins instead.
Don’t worry about not being able to get the cake layers out. Once they have baked and cooled, just run a knife around the edge of the tin. Then they’ll come out easily.
Cool your cakes upside down
This is the 2nd thing you need to remember when making chiffon cakes.
Chiffon cakes tend to deflate after they have baked. Cooling them upside down will prevent them from ending up completely flat.
No matter what you do, they will still deflate a little, when they get cooled upside down, they will not deflate as much.
To do this, just flip your cakes upside down onto a wire cooling rack, as soon as they come out of the oven. Don’t take them out of the tins, just leave them in the tins upside down.
If you don’t have wire racks, make sure not to flip the cakes upside down on your counter. You want air to be able to go under the tins.
Instead use something that will prop the tins up, without covering the cake.
I’ve found that metal boba straws work great, or chopsticks, or any thick wooden skewers. Just anything that will ensure that air is still going under the tin.
The whipped cream
The last step is to make the whipped cream. You can fill this cake with whatever you want, I think the bakery in London uses buttercream.
But I went with whipped cream because I felt like it would pair well with the fluffy cake layers.
All you need is double/heavy cream, whipping cream works too, and icing sugar. Just whip these together until you get medium peaks.
When it comes to the sugar, you can add more or less than I did. Add it to taste!
I make a lot of cakes, here are some others I think you should look at:
Pandan Chiffon Cake
- For the chiffon cake:
6 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
125g granulated sugar
6 egg yolks
125g granulated sugar
80ml vegetable oil
100ml cold water
2 teaspoons pandan extract (you can use more or less than this)
200g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
- For the whipped cream:
300ml double cream
100g icing sugar (this amount can be adjusted to taste)
- Making the cake:
- Start by pre-heating your oven to 170c/325f. Also line the bottom of two 8 inch square cake tins with some baking paper. Make sure NOT to grease these tins, and not to line the sides of the tins. Just add a square of baking paper to the bottom of each one.
- In a large bowl, add the egg whites and the cream of tartar. Start whipping this until the egg whites become foamy. Then whiles still whipping, gently pour in the first 125g of sugar. Once all of this sugar has been added, whip until you get stiff peaks. Leave this aside.
- In a separate large bowl, add the egg yolks and the second 125g of sugar. Whip these together until the mixture becomes much lighter in colour and almost doubles in volume.
- Add the oil, water and pandan extract into this, whisk until combined. Now add the flour, baking powder and salt, again whisk just until combined.
- Add half of the whipped egg whites into this, gently fold these in, then add the rest. Fold until you can no longer see any lumps or streaks of egg whites in this batter.
- Pour this into your cake tins then bake them at 170c/325f for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Make sure not too open your oven door too much as they bake, this can cause the cakes to delate.
- As soon as these come out of the oven, flip them upside down onto a wire rack. Don't take them out of the tin, just leave them in the tin, upside down. Leave them to cool completely.
- Making the whipped cream:
- In a large bowl, add the double cream and icing sugar.
- Whip these together until the mixture thickens and you get medium peaks. Leave this in the fridge until you're ready to use it.
- Assembling the cake:
- Once the cake layers have cooled, you can assemble.
- Run a knife around the sides of your cake tins, to separate the cakes from it. Then take the cakes out.
- At this point, I peeled the top layer of the cakes off, just to get rid of the browning. But you can skip this if you wanted too.
- Place one of the cake layers down onto a board or plate. Spread an even layer of the whipped cream over this, then add the other layer of cake on top.
- Leave this in your fridge for about 20 minutes so that the whipped cream can set up a little. Then you can cut into it and enjoy!