Once I'm comparing apples and apples, it's obvious The Best of Singapore Cooking has heap loads of everything, from coconut milk to oil, egg whites, egg yolks, and especially sugar and baking powder. Every . . . single . . . thing! Hmm, doesn't seem right. BSC – out!
Epicurative and Raffles Hotel share practically the same oil-less ingredients, but the mixing methods are different. The "Grande Dame of Singapore" – or rather her servant, Ah Teng – whisks only the egg whites, and all of the sugar bar 10 g is added to unwhisked yolks. I don't like the method because whisked egg whites with only 10 g of sugar may be unstable, and unwhisked yolks doesn't have much volume. Ah Teng – out!
I decide to try Epicurative's recipe, splitting the sugar between the whites and yolks, then whisking each lot separately. I bake the cake for 40 minutes, which is plenty for a 21-cm chiffon. The crust is brown, but the inside is still wet whilst the cooked part is dry. As the cake cools down, it shrinks badly since it isn't cooked through. There's probably too much coconut milk in the recipe. Epicurative – out!
So, I'm left with ieat's four recipes. Hmm, Asianbakes seriously
Anna Chan's is an oil-less recipe, and my experience with Epicurative's oil-less chiffon hasn't been good. Out!
Of the remaining two, ieat recommends the one "with more egg whites" from Kiamniangwong. Actually, the recipe has less whites than Prima's, per 100 g of flour. But it has more in absolute number because it's for a bigger cake. (See? A spreadsheet helps!)
I take the doctor's order since he has clinically tested his prescription. My verdict? I'm very impressed by the cake's texture which is as soft as Bengawan Solo's. But the taste, using pandan essence/paste, leaves much to be desired, not to mention the hideous colour.
In case you don't know, squeezing juice out of pandan leaves is like squeezing blood out of stone. That's why most people use pandan essence, artificial green food colouring and, maybe to appease their conscience, a token amount of real pandan juice.
To make a pandan cake without fake food colouring, I have to figure out something: how to squeeze blood out of stone! Epicurative soaks finely ground
Epicurative's juice extraction method isn't good, but the principle behind it is. Why don't I mix the pandan with coconut milk instead of water? Bingo! The coconut milk turns from virginal white to Martian green, and all I have to do is get rid of the fibrous pulp with a strainer. Two hours later, I'm chomping on pandan cake that's full of the aroma of real pandan. It's light as air, soft as cotton, and green as a Martian – as good as Bengawan Solo's but baked by yours truly!
7 May 2012 Update:
Click here for more tips in baking the perfect pandan chiffon cake, and here's my step-by-step video:
|PANDAN CHIFFON CAKE|
Source: Adapted from Kiamnianwong's recipe
(Recipe for one 21 cm cake)
100 g pandan leaves, use only soft and moist young leaves
buy 250 g and use only 100 g of the innermost, light green leaves70 g freshly squeezed coconut milk, undiluted
180 g egg whites
½ tsp cream of tartar
50 g sugar
60 g egg yolks
50 g sugar
60 g vegetable oil
¼ tsp salt
100 g cake flour, sifted with baking powder
1 tsp baking powder
Don't use old, dark green pandan leaves. Not only do these not have any juice, they actually absorb liquid because they're very dry. If you blend old and young leaves together, the juice of the young ones would be absorbed by the old leaves.
7 May 2012 Update: Click here for my step-by-step video and more tips on baking the perfect pandan chiffon cake.
Preheat oven to 180°C (355°F).
Wash and roughly chop pandan leaves. Blend with coconut milk and 1 tbsp water. Strain, pressing leaves hard. Discard pulp. Set aside green liquid, which should weigh 95 g.
Whisk egg whites with sugar and cream of tartar till just reaching stiff peaks. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar till pale, thick and creamy (ribbon stage). Add green coconut milk, then vegetable oil, whisking till evenly mixed. Gradually add flour mixture, along with salt, again whisking till just evenly mixed. Add egg whites in 3 batches, whisking gently by hand in electric whisk's direction. Scrape down with spatula before mixing last batch of egg whites.
Bang mixing bowl against worktop 2-3 times to remove air bubbles. Pour batter into 21 cm 2-piece chiffon tin that's not non-stick, slowly so that air bubbles still trapped in the batter are released. Run a chopstick round side of tin to remove more air bubbles. Level and smooth top.
Bake cake in bottom of oven till risen and almost level with top of tin, about 15 minutes. Cake should now be very slightly brown and not cracked. Place baking tray in top of oven to block top heat. Continue baking till inserted skewer comes out clean, 20 minutes or so. Cake should now be slightly cracked. Remove tray from top of oven. Continue baking till top of cake is dry and medium-brown, another 5-10 minutes (7½ minutes for my oven).
Remove cake from oven. Invert onto a bottle. Leave till cool, an hour or so. Cut cake out of tin.