We were invited to a niece’s birthday party about two weeks ago and one of the birthday cakes was this cotton soft pandan cake. The cake was really cotton soft with beautiful light green colour and pandan fragrant, but the icing was interesting. It is not overly sweet, rich but not butter heavy rich (if you know what I mean) and most importantly it has that familiar flavour which I couldn’t name. The combination of both is just really impressive, really I am not exaggerating here. Hubby has become a fan of this cake in the instant and I promised to look for the recipe.
So days passed after the birthday party, life went on as usual and of course I nearly forgot about that cake. And one day I saw someone posted a picture of the very similar cake with caption “best combination of flavour ever: pandan and palm sugar”! Aha that’s it, the mysterious familiar flavour that I couldn’t name on the butter cream. And hence the google search for the recipe began, although I could only find a very few of recipes around.
Because a lot of things here are new techniques to me, I really followed the recipe to a dot, except for very few adjustments as stated below. The cooked dough to make the cake really results in that cotton soft texture, also not as porous as the usual chiffon cake. I think that is why this cake can hold its shape better than the chiffon cake. And here is the recipe exactly as per her blog:
Two 6″ Inch Round Cakes Recipe
80 grams corn oil (I used rice bran oil)
130 grams cake flour or all purposed flour
½ tsp double action baking powder (I used same amount of regular baking powder)
½ tsp salt
6 egg yolks
1 whole egg
50 grams fresh milk
50 grams pandan juice (screw-pine leaves juice), very thick and concentrated juice.
6 egg whites
70 grams castor sugar
¼ tsp cream of tartar
Note: Since I don’t have two 6 inches pans, I used one rectangular 20 x 20 x 8 cm cake pan. The batter will fill up 3/4 full before baking and fit in 90% after baked. I also cheated on the pandan juice, I used few drops of pandan paste instead and increase the fresh milk amount to 100 grams to make up for omitting pandan juice.
- Preheat oven to 170C.
- Shift flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside.
- Combine fresh milk and pandan paste. Set aside.
- Heat corn oil in sauce pan over low heat then add in the shifted flour mixture and mix well. Remove from heat and transfer to a mixing bowl. Then add in milk and pandan mixture, mix with spatula until all incorporated. Gradually add in the egg yolk and whole egg mixture, stirring with a spatula or hand whisk until smooth. Set aside.
- Using an electric mixer, whisk egg white until frothy before adding cream of tartar and continue to beat until foamy. Gradually add in sugar and whisk until firm peaks formed (firm peaks is between soft peaks and stiff peaks).
- Mix 1/3 of meringue with yolk batter with a spatula. Add another 1/3 portion and fold gently. Then pour in balance of meringue. Fold gently using a spatula until well incorporated.
- Pour the batter into the 2 prepared round tin and tap tin lightly to remove air bubbles.
- Baked in water bath at 170C for 30 to 35 minutes. Then another 40 minutes at 150C.
- Remove from the oven and drop the pan at a height of 10 cm onto a table top. This will prevent cake from sinking.
- Unmould as soon as you can. To remove the cake from the pan, run a thin-bladed knife around the inside of the pan and invert the cake on non stick baking paper. Peel off baking paper from the base and re-invert onto a rack to cool.
GULA MELAKA SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM
Gula Melaka Caramel:
50 grams gula melaka/palm sugar, crushed or chopped
2 pandan leaves, tied a knot
1/8 cup (25 ml) of water
Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
3 large egg whites
80 grams caster sugar
150 grams butter, room temperature, cut into small cubes
¼ tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp salt
To prepare Gula Melaka Caramel:
- Combine gula melaka, pandan leave and water in a saucepan and bring to boil over medium heat. Keep on stiring until all the sugar has melted and reduce slightly. Remove from heat, strain & discard the pandan leaves. Keep aside to cool. The syrup will thicken as it cools.
To prepare Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
- Combine egg white and sugar in a heat-proof bowl over a pot of simmering water. Make sure the base of the bowl is not touching the water. Whisk with hand whisk until the sugar is dissolved. Rub between your fingers to check if there is any unmelted sugar.
- Transfer the egg white mixture to a bowl of mixer. With Whisk attachment, beat over high speed until stiff peaks and the mixture has cooled to room temperature.
- Turn down the speed and add in the butter cube gradually then turn to high speed. Beat until the mixture comes together. You may change to Paddle attachment. But, I did not.
- Add in salt and vanilla extract until well incorporated.
- Turn down the speed and in gula melaka one teaspoon at a time. Scrap the bowl with spatula and beat until all well combined. I used all the gula melaka caramel.
To Assemble the cake:
I halved my cake then spread a generous layer of swiss meringue buttercream then top with the other half of the cake and cover all surface and sides of the cake with the remaining buttercream. Since I am making mine in 1 pan, I have some left over buttercream that I store in a closed container in the fridge.
- It is ok to rest the egg whites for SMBC in the fridge to cut down the cooling down time. This needs to be at room temperature when adding in butter.
- Add the butter slowly while keep beating. You’ll see the mixture become curdled after adding in all butter. Just have some faith and keep beating then it will eventually come together. (I was so scared I had spoiled the whole batch when I saw that curdled but as I continued beating the mixture, it came together again)
- After I halved my cake, I wrapped each of them tightly with cling wrap and placed them in the freezer for about 30 minutes before I spread the SMBC. By doing so, the cake seems to hold its shape better while spreading the butter cream and hence less crumbly – it just makes the job easier especially during hot summer days 🙂