pummeled by pandan

the pandan chiffon cake was a childhood comfort food. so ubiquitous, it can be found in any bakery here and very cheaply too. i should be able to handle it. or so i thought. 

but.

first of all, i was troubled by the sheer number of discourses in cyberspace by more experienced bakers. this one seemed to have daunted a fair number of people and most of them had some issues. starting with the pandan leaf (“it is easier to squeeze blood out of stone than juice out of pandan leaves”).

after 2 weekends of research, i became more confused than ever. there were too many recipes! some called for more egg whites than egg yolks. a few used equal number egg whites and yolks. the quantities quoted were all different (which one was for what size pan?!?!). there were more theories and tips than an espionage plot. but they were passionately espoused so it was still an interesting read.

these were some of the sites i reviewed over and over before my attempt. i got some very good tips from them:

  • the doctor (detailed trials and feedback and very funny)
  • kitchentigress (excellent ‘how to’ video which i watched x times)
  • christine (straight-talking, simple recipe, the one i finally used)
  • extravirginchef (great tips summary, followed all of them)

so,  i got ready to start but i was reeling from information overload. and having trouble finding fresh coconut milk (which used to be readily available from mama shops when i was young). finally, i bought fresh, pasteurized packet coconut milk from the vegetable man at the wet market. 

of course, the first cake flunked. and it did so by dropping out of the pan as i tried to tilt pan over.  it also had a very raw pandan taste. i read somewhere that it was better to use as many leaves as possible to extract the juice from. backfired. this cake was over-pandan-ed and tasted awful.

the second cake did not fall as hard. it merely slide out of the pan. another flop, literally. 

i was going to give it up if i failed the third time.  to my surprise, i got my pandan chiffon cake!

photos of 1st successful attempt

best way to cool it – on a beer bottle

after its scrapped out of the pan. a bit over browned

for want of good scrapping skills

you know by its look – this is a pandan chiffon cake!

second successful attempt

how it looked like after 15 mins in oven (at this point, an aluminium sheet is required to cover the top to prevent over browning)

nicely extracted from the pan, but i dont know why the domed top

looking quite professional

cross section

takeaways

  • i used equal egg whites-egg yolk recipe because i didnt know what to do with the extra egg yolks. 
  • too many pandan leaves is – not good 
  • blending the pandan leaves with  coconut milk to extract the juice may not be such a good move. messy and you waste coconut milk (ideally, should not be executed by a clumsy dude)  
  • leftover coconut milk can be stored in freezer and used again. those freshly squeezed ones may turn bad even if left in fridge by next day (normal compartment)
  • egg whites should be beaten till stiff stage 
  • banging the mixture before pouring and running chopstick around the edge are great ideas 
  • covering the top to prevent browning 15 mins into the baking is an absolute must 
  • know thy oven well. i used a heaslio 4-in-1 oven tuned to 180 degrees (although my oven thermometer indicated 160 degrees)

now, if only i can fix the domed top. 

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