This is probably one of my favorite dessert which I have been crazy for since childhood. One of my late aunt likes to bring it to our house for Eid or Idul Fitri and I always more than happy to fork in. Fortunately, I can find them easily around the neighborhood where I grew up. Unfortunately, now that I moved thousands miles away from home, so far it was just not my luck. So, I thought why don’t I make one? It took me three attempts and three different recipes before I finally feel somewhat satisfied. Why ‘somewhat’? Because the coconut milk I have found and used is not ‘coconut-y’ enough for my taste. God, I miss traditional market in Jakarta, where you can just go to coconut pressing stalls and ask them to press and milk the coconut for you, for instance, five coconut pressed into 2 liter of coconut milk. The taste will be right up to my expectations.
The journey to the perfect pandan kaya is not easy. There are two elements involved: the cake and the kaya layer. Kaya is short for sarikaya which means coconut milk jam, made from thickened coconut milk, sugar and thickening agents such as mung bean flour or hun kwee. It tastes rich or ‘kaya’ in malay/bahasa indonesia, perhaps there where the word came from? Anyway, the cake I used is sponge cake and that is not an easily achieved bake. Of course, there are ready made Pandan cake mix or regular cake mix which we can use. If using the regular cake mix, replace the milk part with coconut milk and add one teaspoon pandan paste. It will give the taste I want but not the texture I expected which is more fluffy. So my second attempt is to find any Pandan chiffon cake recipe. This, too, gave me the taste I want but still not spot on the texture. Finally I stumbled upon this pandan chiffon recipe from blogger and boy! how I am glad.
Next is the kaya layer. I am a muslim so I have to be careful with halal food including gelatin. I know it can be extracted from cows and also pigs but since the information on the packages usually unclear, I decided to use agar agar powder or konnyaku powder. First I tried without jelly agents, just maizena and rice flour and it turned out sluggish. The cake can hold itself but only after being refrigerated heavily and once it is in room temperature, it starts to collapse. Next, I tried using rice flour and konnyaku powder, it is a japanese jelly powder extracted from a kind of potato, sadly I only have the blueberry flavored one. Fooling myself thinking that I can hide the purple and blueberry taste, I went crazy with pandan paste. It gave me the structure I wanted but still a little bit collapsing here and there. And the blueberry-pandan-coconut milk taste? Ewh! Never again. I was, somehow, successfully hid the purple color but it was not a proper achievement for me. Then I found this pandan layer recipe and it is suffice to say that I have succeeded.
So, here is the full recipe which I have used.
Pandan Chiffon Cake Part I
- 6 egg yolks
- 100 gram sugar
- 115 ml oil (the original recipe uses corn oil, I used cooking oil)
- 140 ml coconut milk
- 2 tbsp pandan water: 10-12 pandan leaves, cut into pieces, put into blender and add 100 ml water and then blend until smooth. Filter the blend and take the water. Keep the rest for the kaya layer mix.
- 200 grams flour
- 2 tsp baking powder, sift together with flour and make sure no lumps left
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 tsp vanilla essence
- 1 tsp pandan paste
Pandan Chiffon Cake Part II:
- 9 egg whites
- 100 gram sugar
- 1/2 tsp cream of tartar OR ovalette
- 1200 ml coconut milk + the rest of pandan water from chiffon cake mix
- 10 gram agar agar powder
- 100 gram sugar, or more depends on taste
- 100 gram mung bean flour or Hun Kwee flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pandan paste
- Use the non stick cake mold and turn the oven on and set temperature to 170 Celcius, or if using gas oven, turn on to level 2 and leave it on. Now start with making the cake.
- Chiffon Part I: Mix and beat with mixer egg yolks and sugar until thick, creamy and doubled or even tripled in volume.
- Pour in coconut oil, pandan water, pandan paste, vanilla essence, and oil into the batter and continue mixing until all is blended smoothly.
- Slowly add flour, baking powder and salt mix, put it in three or four steps while still beating with mixer. Put aside.
- Chiffon Part II: beat egg whites for 1 minute until frothy and raised and then add ovalette. Continue beating for another 2-3 minutes until it becomes thick foam.
- Put sugar into egg whites mix in three steps and beat again until it becomes creamy and almost stiff. Don’t turn the bowl upside down, because if you do and it does not drop then you have overdone the batter. It will be lumpy and difficult to fold and mix with Part I batter.
- Make three parts of the egg whites mix and then put one part into egg yolks mix. Use the spatula and mix until no more whites are visible.
- Put the rest of the whites in and fold it carefully with spatula until all is mixed and no whites and lumps visible.
- Pour the batter into the mold and after everything is in, bang the molds several time to kitchen counter to make the bubbles formed in the middle of the cake, go up and burst.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes and check the temperature for every 10 minutes. Put aside and let the cake cool down in room temperature.
- After it cools down, part the cake into 2-3 levels.
- Pandan Layer: mix all ingredients together and using the whisk, cook on medium heat until it thickens and boiled.
- Turn the heat off and keep whisking until all smooth and leave to cool down for 5 minutes.
- Using round baking mold/tin, lay heat resistant plastic on the bottom so the cake can be turn upside down. Then lay one part of layer mix followed by one part of cake and so on until all is stacked. And the using piping bag, put the rest of the layer mix on the side of the layer.
- Leave to cool in room temperature for 3 hours or in the refrigerator for 1 hour.