Pandan Chiffon Cake
This green chiffon cake can easily be found in most of the bakeries in Singapore. Ask any Singaporean, and there isn’t one who did not grow up eating this ubiquitous cake. Its key ingredient, Pandanus Amaryllifolius (pandan leaves), is a topical plant found in South East Asia. According to the National Parks Board of Singapore, “Pandanus” is derived from a Malayan name, screw-pines.
Its well-known presence, its use of the tropical pandan, and its genus name would have given the idea that this popular cake has its origins in South East Asia. However, it is difficult to ascertain its exact origins to this day. On the other hand, how the chiffon cake baking technique was brought into South East Asia could be traced to the days of European colonisation, when the colonisers created an influence on the everyday lives of the locals, including culinary and baking skills. As the pandan leaf is widely used as flavouring in food, as well as in medicinal treatment in South East Asia, it comes as no surprise that this leaf has also been used in making the cake. The pandan cake is, therefore, a fusion of Eastern ingredients and Western techniques.
In April 2017, CNN Travel listed the Pandan Cake as one of its “favourite cakes from around the world”, amongst Tiramisu of Italy, Black Forest Cake of Germany and Dorayaki of Japan. The Pandan Cake’s recent fame of making its way to the CNN’s list has also attributed to its reputation of being the national cake of Malaysia and Singapore.
The Pandan Cake shares similar ingredients with most other cakes. Flour, eggs, butter or margarine, baking powder, and sugar are required in the baking process. In addition to these ingredients, coconut milk and cream of tartar are also used. However, its essential ingredient is the juice extract of pandan leaves. Pandan paste and pandan essence could be used as substitutes to avoid the lengthy process of extracting the juice from pandan leaves.
Just like all chiffon cake, its light and airy texture is formed by whipping egg whites into a stiff meringue.
According to the award winning food blogger Dr. Leslie Tay, there are four recipes to bake this chiffon cake; Prima Taste’s recipe is the most basic.