Learn how to make super soft and fluffy pandan chiffon cake (or basic chiffon cake) every time at home. A complete guide and tips to make sure you can replicate this recipe at home successfully.
Every year we ask the same question. Where has time gone? Yet, I still don’t have the answer to that. Do you? Every year I told myself I’m going to be VERY organized. I usually am at the beginning of the years and then what I’ve written down have just left as well…written down! This Pandan chiffon cake that I’m writing while brushing my teeth for example. I’ve been wanting to make this cake for the past 5 years! What ?!? I know! Not sure what the hold up! I finally just decided to crack 5 eggs and started whipping the meringue !!! When that happened, I made three chiffon cakes in two weeks. That’s me! always at the extreme side!
PANDAN CHIFFON CAKE IS POPULAR IN SOUTHEAST ASIA
Pandan chiffon cake is very well loved in Southeast Asia. In case you are wondering what pandan is, it is a leaf. Also known as screwpine leaf. You can extract pandan juice to be used in cooking and baking. It is so flavorful that I seriously want to bottle up the flavor and turn it into a fragrance. Pandan chiffon cake is basically just chiffon cake infused with pandan flavor and it’s green color. I love chiffon cake for its soft, pillowy, and spongy texture.
MAKING CHIFFON CAKE CAN BE INTIMIDATING AT FIRST
I failed several times and learn from them along the way. I had no clue about whipping meringue correctly because I had little baking exposure. Then I also didn’t know how to fold the meringue into the batter correctly, so on and so forth! But you know, all those sound more difficult than they actually are.
WHAT MAKES CHIFFON CAKE SOFT AND FLUFFY?
There are few things that contribute to the softness and that spongey texture of chiffon cake.
1. The flour
Use cake flour. I made two chiffon cakes, one with cake flour and one with regular all-purpose flour and I can immediately see the difference in terms of softness. The one made with cake flour is sooo soft!
2. The oil
The oil contributes to the moistness of the cake.
3. The yolks
The yolks contribute to the moistness and rich taste of the cake, though not as rich as let’s say a butter cake, it adds an amazing flavor to the cake.
4. Coconut milk/milk
Coconut milk or regular cow’s milk (I suggest using whole milk) improves the texture of the cake. It also gives you that nice crumb structure to the cake.
5. Cream of Tartar
Cream of tartar contributes to the stability of your whipped meringue. Your meringue is less likely to deflate quickly after whipping
6. The whipped meringue
Oh yes, this whipped meringue is one of the most important things that is responsible for that spongey and airy (or fluffy) texture of chiffon cake.
7. Baking powder
This is another leavening agent that helps to add to that light and fluffiness of chiffon cake.
KITCHEN TOOLS YOU WILL NEED TO BAKE CHIFFON CAKE SUCCESSFULLY
You don’t need any fancy kitchen tools, but there are several that will get the job done. You don’t have to use what I suggested here. You can use whatever similar tools you already have in your kitchen.
1. Chiffon Cake pan with removable base
This recipe calls from 20 cm pan, which is about 7 inches. The removable base will make your life easier.
I strongly encourage you to use the chiffon pan with a removable base. I tried with the nonremovable base and getting the cake out of the pan was pretty disastrous. I think it’s doable, but I haven’t figured out how to get it out without cracking the top of the cake.
2. Rubber spatula
3. Standmixer or handmixer
I prefer stand mixer just because I’m free to do something else while the meringue is whipping, but a hand mixer will do the job too.
TIPS ON HOW TO BAKE SOFT AND FLUFFY CHIFFON CAKE AT HOME EVERY TIME
1. The temperature of the eggs
Get the eggs out from the fridge 30 minutes before you plan to start the job. You can separate the yolks from the whites and let them sit for 30 minutes. The whites will whip better
2. No trace of yolks or any grease
When separate the yolks from the whites, make sure there’s no trace of yolks in the whites or you will have a hell of a time trying to whip that meringue. Make sure your mixing bowl is clean and no grease. You can wipe with some lemon juice to ensure
3. Do not grease your cake pan
The cake needs to cling to the side of the pan to rise. If you grease it, the cake will never rise
4. Mix dry ingredients
Mix the cake flour, salt, and baking powder in a separate bowl
5. Mix wet ingredients
Mix the yolks, sugar, coconut milk/milk, pandan extract (or any extract), and oil together
6. Gradually add dry ingredients to wet ingredients
Don’t dump all at once. Add a bit by a bit while the other hand is mixing at the same time. You will have a better chance of getting a smooth batter without overworking the batter. Strain the batter if you can’t seem to get rid of lumps
7. Preheat your oven while you are doing the work
You don’t want to have everything ready and your oven is not ready. It’s going to be a disaster for your chiffon cake because it can’t sit on the counter and waiting for the oven to heat up
8. Whip the egg whites
Use a whisk attachment to whip the egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until frothy
Once it’s frothy, gradually add sugar in 3 batches and turn the speed to high and whip until you get a stiff peak
9. Fold the meringue into the batter
You want to do this in batches, preferably in 3-4 batches. Take 1/3 or 1/4 of the meringue with your spatula and put it into the batter. Use this motion: Swipe from the side and gently fold up and do this several rounds until it’s mixed and then fold in the next 1/3 or 1/4 and do the same again until all the meringue is mixed in. You can check out the short video I made for this too.
10. Pour and smooth
Pour the cake batter into the pan and smooth the surface with a spatula
11. Pop any visible air bubbles
You can use a toothpick to pop any air bubbles you see and gently drop the cake pan from about 10 cm height on the counter 2-3 times. This helps to minimize shrinkage after baking
12. The cake is ready to be baked
Do not open the oven door for the first 30 minutes or you are risking deflating the cake
13. Invert the cake upside down
Once the cake is done baking, remove from the oven and invert the cake immediately. The purpose of doing this is so that the cake will not collapse due to its own weight. This is where the little cake stands on the pan come in handy
14. Let the cake cool down completely
Once the cake cools down completely, about an hour or so, you can run a palette knife around the sides of the cake, and the middle to help release the cake from the pan. The removable base will still attach to the bottom. Gently run the knife through the base and make sure you have a plate or serving platter ready and the cake will release
HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN CAKE FLOUR
Yes, I hear you. I don’t always have cake flour in my pantry because I just don’t bake the cake that often. The good news is you can make your own by using only two ingredients: all-purpose flour and cornstarch
This recipe uses 100 gr cake flour. You can use: 85 gr all-purpose flour + 15 gr of cornstarch. Easy as that!
HOW TO MAKE BASIC CHIFFON CAKE WITH THIS RECIPE
If you don’t want the pandan flavor or any flavor and just want a basic chiffon cake, simply omit the pandan extract and you can use either 100 ml coconut milk or use 100 ml whole milk or even water. I explained above what milk does to the cake, but you can certainly use water as the liquid.
Recipe is adapted from Christine’s Recipe with slight modifications.
Please weigh ingredients with a digital kitchen scale instead of using measuring cups as they are not very accurate especially when it comes to recipe that requires precision.
To make pandan Juice:
- 15 pandan leaves - cut into little pieces
- 3 Tbsp water
- 5 egg whites from large eggs - room temperature
- 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
- 60 gr sugar
Make pandan juice:
- Make sure you cut the leaves into little pieces to extract the juice out from the leaves. Put in a blender and add 3 Tbsp water and process for a minute or so or until it becomes paste-like. Transfer to a cheesecloth or muslin cloth or use a strainer to squeeze the juice out Set aside for later use. You will need about 30 ml (2 Tbsp) for this recipe and store the rest in the fridge for other use
Mixing the thick batter:
- Separate the egg yolks from the white and let them sit out for 30 minutes at room temperature. The meringue whips better at room temperature
- Mix the flour, salt, and baking powder and whisk to mix
- In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks with sugar and cooking oil, then add coconut milk and pandan juice (or pandan extract)
- Gradually add the cake flour mixture to the egg batter while mixing. Mix until smooth and no lumps. Strain the batter if necessary to get rid of any lumps
Whipping the meringue:
- Preheat your oven to 330 F (165 C). Place the oven rack 3rd from the top
- Place the egg whites in a clean bowl. You will have trouble whipping your meringue if there's trace of grease in your utensils or bowls. Beat the egg whites on medium speed until frothy, add cream of tartar and whip until it turns whitish. Gradually add the sugar as you beat. I beat them for around 4-5 minutes on high speed until you get a stiff peak. You will know you get to the stiff peak when you hold your whisk up and your meringue holds its shape
- Gently fold in 1/4 of the meringue into the thick batter. Using a rubber spatula, swipe from the side and gently fold over to mix and then continue. Repeat this motion several rounds. Continue on with second 1/4 of the meringue again to mix. Continue to do this until you are done with the meringue and the batter and meringue are nicely mixed
- DO NOT grease your chiffon pan. The cake needs to cling to the pan to rise. You can use a toothpick to pop any air bubbles you see and gently drop the cake pan from about 10 cm height on the counter 2-3 times. This helps to minimize shrinkage after baking
- Pop into the oven and let it bake at 330 F for 50 minutes. DO NOT open your oven door at least for the first 30 minutes of baking or you will deflate the cake. Then lower the heat to 300 F (150 C) and bake for another 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean
- Don't be alarm if your cake has some cracks on top. What you are looking at will become the bottom of your cake. I find that baking at this temperature in my oven prevents the cake from cracking
- Once out of the oven, carefully invert the pan upside down. Your chiffon pan may have the little stands for you to invert, but I find it not high enough. I use a glass jar and set the inverted pan on top of the jar and let it cool down completely. Please don't be tempted to remove from the pan if it's still warm. It takes about one to two hours to cool down completely
- Once it's cool down completely, use a spatula knife to run through the edge of the cake to help release the cake. Gently push the base of the pan down. Use the knife again to run through the top of the cake to help release it from the base of the pan. There you have it !!! 🙂 Enjoy and try to finish it within 3 days (which I'm sure it will be gone before then)