The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Pandan Chiffon Cake

It seems like ages since I last baked something just for the fun of it. It certainly has been a long time since I last used my tube cake pan to make a chiffon cake, simply because the only free time I have is when the boy is asleep, and the sound of the electric mixer ringing through our small apartment is not terribly conducive for a good sleep environment. The other day, when rain cancelled playgroup and forced us to stay indoors, I spontaneously decided to bake a chiffon cake since I found myself with an extra 1.5 hours on my hands. Zak was happy playing on his own during the 30 or so minutes it took for me to get the cake in the oven, after which it was a fairly straightforward process of leaving it to bake and then removing from the oven to cool down. The boy was enthralled as he watched me take on the painstaking task of removing the cake from the tube pan.

Pandan chiffon cake is a popular Malaysian cake, loved for its light, fluffy texture and delicious pandan flavour. The pandan leaf is very widely used in South-east Asian cuisine and imparts a beautiful delicate fragrant in both sweet and savoury dishes. I had a small jar of pandan flavouring that I'd bought awhile back during one of our trips to Malaysia, and I was saving it for the next time I was inspired to bake a chiffon cake. There wasn't any detail on the little jar as to how much to use (there wasn't even a list of ingredients beyond "permitted food flavouring and colouring" and "without alcohol", in Malay), and I should have done the smart thing and googled about it because I probably used too much of it. Both hubby and sister said the cake was good, but I personally thought it tasted a little bitter, which I think may be due to the excess green stuff I used. I didn't give Zak any of the cake because of the additional (artificial?) green colouring in the pandan paste. Anyway, how can I learn if I don't make mistakes? And I was pleased enough that the cake didn't flop and sink.

To make this chiffon cake, I basically duplicated my Orange Chiffon Cake recipe with the following modifications:
- substituted orange juice with a pandan solution (adding water to the flavouring to make up equal fluid volume)
- used extra-virgin olive oil because I didn't have any other oil in the house (it was raining, and I was on my own with Zak so it wasn't practical to head out to grab suitable oil)
- used yolks and whites from 3 large eggs (as opposed to 3 egg yolks and 4 egg whites)
- used only flour, because in my haste to measure and assemble everything, I forgot that I'd intended to use cornstarch too

The resulting pandan chiffon cake had a coarser texture than the orange chiffon cake (didn't use cornstarch), and it wasn't quite as tall (used less egg whites). The EVOO wasn't as overwhelming as I thought it would be, but then again, it would be hard to overwhelm that pandan flavour with the amount I used. Next time I make Pandan Chiffon Cake, I'll use only 3/4 teaspoon of the pandan paste (though I doubt I'll ever find that same bottle again outside of Malaysia), or better still, use the real stuff made from the juice of pandan leaf.

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