Pandan Chiffon Cake

By ying
April 23, 2010
Pandan Chiffon Cake

Author Notes: I admit: pandan leaves and/or pandan flavouring are hard to come by. But this cake is beautifully fragrant and such a quirky example of East-meets-West cuisine: a rich, airy chiffon cake flavoured with pandan (also pandanus, or screwpine) leaves, which are the vanilla bean of SE Asian cuisine. My mother has made this all my life and I've no idea where the recipe comes from, but it's my equivalent of Proust's madeleine. The coconut milk called for here should be the thickest, richest coconut milk you can find - "D" Best is my mother's preferred brand and it comes frozen. I often can't find it, so I skim off the solid part of a can of Chaokoh or similar. As for the green food colouring, I usually skip it but pandan-flavoured things are traditionally tinted pale green in Singapore and Malaysia.ying

Serves: 1 cake


  • 4 ounces cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces coconut milk
  • 1 pandan leaf, pounded to a pulp in a mortar & pestle and juice squeezed out (discard leaf pulp) OR 1 ts pandan essence
  • 6 ounces sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • a few drops green food colouring (optional)
In This Recipe


  1. In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and baking powder three times. In a smaller bowl, mix together egg yolks, oil, salt, coconut milk, and pandan juices or essence.
  2. In a third bowl, beat egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar until the whites are glossy and hold stiff peaks.
  3. Make a well in the flour mixture, add the yolk mixture, and stir gently to combine. If you're using the food colouring, add it here - just enough to evoke a delicate spring green, not a St Patrick's Day beer. Fold in the egg whites.
  4. Scrape batter into an ungreased tube pan (providing it doesn't smell of monkeymom's roast chicken!) and bake for 30 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.
  5. Invert onto a long-necked bottle and cool completely. This cake is normally served unadorned.

More Great Recipes:
Cake|Milk/Cream|Make Ahead|Dessert

Reviews (5) Questions (0)

5 Reviews

lripley April 30, 2010
I bought frozen pandam leaves a few weeks ago and started out simple by adding about 3 long leaves to 1 C of rice I was cooking. The smell of the leaves out of the package was wonderful--a little bit like cooked rice. But not much of any taste was imparted to the rice. Did I not add enough? Something wrong with my leaves? Any ideas?
Thanks for your help. I've been learning a little bit about Filipino recipes recently.
Author Comment
ying May 1, 2010
Hi lripley! It may be your leaves - the quality of frozen ones varies a lot, and 3 leaves to 1 cup of rice sounds like a lot to me. But pandan, like vanilla, adds more fragrance than taste. You can amplify it by bruising the leaves before using them, and cooking your rice with a little salt and coconut milk to make the flavour blossom. Hth!
Author Comment
ying April 24, 2010
Argh - I forgot to mention that if your coconut milk is at all lumpy, pass it through a fine sieve. Otherwise, you'll have tiny lumps in your finished cake - not a total loss, but annoying all the same.
monkeymom April 24, 2010
Sounds great! (better wash that pan out real good!) I'll be on the look out for the pandan - is it usually found fresh?
Author Comment
ying April 24, 2010
Hee! I love your roast chicken, but worried the first time I made it that I'd ruin my pandan cake pan. So far, it's all good. ;) I've never seen fresh pandan in North America but you can buy the leaves frozen at good Asian markets.