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 the 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 year and then what I’ve written down has just been 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 on 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 a 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 its 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 a 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 so soft!
2. The oil
The oil contributes to the moistness of the cake. Please DO NOT substitute with butter.
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
Thick coconut milk (not coconut cream) 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. If you don’t have any, simply replace it with another acid such as lemon juice or vinegar.
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. We want a stiff peak with a slight bent on the tip. Once you reach this stage, stop beating.
7. Baking powder (optional)
This is another leavening agent that helps to add that light and fluffiness to the chiffon cake, but totally optional. I have made countless chiffon cakes without baking powder now and they turn out great as long as your meringue is whipped correctly and your oven temperature is accurate. Sometimes baking powder can create too many “holes” inside the cakes.
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 a removable base
This recipe calls from a 20 cm pan, which is about 8 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 non-removable 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.
TIPS ON HOW TO BAKE SOFT AND FLUFFY CHIFFON CAKE AT HOME EVERY TIME
1. Size of the eggs
I use large eggs for this recipe. One large egg with a shell is about 58-60 grams. To break it down, it is about 30 grams each for the white and about 18-20 grams each for the yolk in case you want to really measure them out.
2. The temperature of the eggs
Get the eggs out of the fridge 30 minutes before you plan to start the job. This is if where you live is not warm and humid. If you live in a warm place, you may not need that long of a time. Another method is to submerge the eggs in lukewarm water for 15 minutes and they will come to room temperature much faster.
3. No trace of yolks or any grease
When separating 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 has no grease. You can wipe it with some lemon juice to ensure
4. 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
5. Mix dry ingredients or sift them into the cake batter
Mix the cake flour, salt, and baking powder in a separate bowl. You can also use a sieve to sift these ingredients into the batter later
6. Mix wet ingredients
Mix the yolks, sugar, coconut milk/milk, pandan juice (or pandan essence), and oil together
7. Sift in dry ingredients to wet ingredients
I recommend using a sieve to add the dry ingredients into the batter. There will be no lumps this way, then use a whisk to combine using a zig zag motion until you get a smooth batter
8. 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
9. Whip the egg whites
Use a whisk attachment to whip the egg whites and cream of tartar (or lemon juice/vinegar) 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 just reach a stiff peak with slight bent on the tip. I recommend stopping several times to check on the consistency. When you lift up the whisk, it should hold its shape firmly but has a slight bent on the tip. Stop once you reach this stiff peak. Overbeating the meringue will break it
9. Fold the meringue into the batter
You want to do this in batches, preferably in 3 batches. Take 1/3 of the meringue with your rubber spatula and put it into the batter. I prefer to use a balloon whisk now to fold. Use this motion: cut down in the middle and gently fold up and do this several rounds until it’s mixed and then fold in the next 1/3 and do the same again until all the meringue is mixed in. For the last 1/3, use a rubber spatula to make sure we get everything at the bottom of the pan. Use the same motion, cut down in the middle and fold over. Do this gently but quickly to prevent losing air as you mix. Make sure you don’t see any more white meringue. You can check out the short video I made for this too.
The well-combined meringue and batter will be fluffy and huge in volume. If they shrink in size and watery, you have lost most of the air and your chiffon cake will come out dense and pretty much, fail!
10. Pour and smooth
Pour the cake batter into the pan and smooth the surface with a spatula
11. Pop any visible air bubbles
Gently drop the cake pan from about 10 cm height on the counter 2-3 times. You can also use a skewer to draw a zig zag pattern to pop any bubbles inside the batter
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 it from the oven and bang on the countertops 2-3 times to minimize shrinkage and invert the cake upside down 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
TROUBLESHOOTING OR FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS FOR CHIFFON CAKE
These are most commonly asked questions and problems people have when it comes to baking a chiffon cake. I will add to this as I think of more or if you guys share more with me. I learned a lot from my readers too. I reference some of my questions from here too.
1. Chiffon cake flops out from the pan when I invert it upside down to cool down
The causes can be one of the combinations of any of the followings:
– The cake is undercooked. The side and the bottom of the cake aren’t brown enough and don’t cling to the pan and that’s why the cake slips out when you invert it. Even if you don’t invert it, this cake will shrink and collapse on its own weight. How to fix this: bake it a bit longer and use an oven thermometer if you suspect that your oven is not accurate
– The side and the bottom of the cake are brown enough but the cake still slips out. This could be there’s too much liquid in the cake, the cake is too wet and the result is underbaked cake and the heavyweight pulls the cake down and out of the pan, and it goes. How to fix this: you need to double-check the recipe and make sure you measure with a kitchen scale to make sure the number of ingredients is correct
2. The side of the cake caves in
The cake looks like it has a “waist”. You are either overbeat or not beating the meringue enough. Overbeaten or underbeaten meringue will be clumpy and foamy and doesn’t mix well with the batter. How to fix this: I will recommend you start with a new batch of egg whites to proceed
3. The top of the cake cracks
To be honest, this is NOT an issue at all. I know we want that perfect-looking cake, but cracks are not a bad thing. This will become the bottom of the cake anyway. Besides, when it has some cracks, it tells you that the cake is not going to be underbaked. I’m more concerned with underbaked chiffon cake than a bit overbaked. Underbaked chiffon cake will collapse and shrink badly. How to fix this: You can try to move the cake down a bit or adjust your oven setting, but really, I won’t bother trying to fix this as long as the cake is soft, fluffy, and bouncy.
4. The bottom of the cake concave in
Your oven temperature is too high. When the cake rises and expands too quickly, it will shrink even more as it cools down. How to fix this: Lower the temperature and monitor. Get an oven thermometer if you suspect that your oven temperature may not be accurate
5. My chiffon cake won’t rise tall
There could be one or several causes:
– Your tube pan has a non-stick coating and/or you grease your pan
– Your meringue is over or underbeaten.
Either one is not good. Over or underbeaten meringue is clumpy and foamy and won’t mix well with the batter, hence, your batter and the meringue aren’t combined. Even if your cake rises during baking, it will deflate when you cool it down
– You deflate too much of the air when you fold the meringue into the batter
– The oven temperature is too low. The heat is not enough for the cake to rise and so you will end up with a short and some dense layer inside the cake
– You open the oven door during baking
6. My chiffon cake rises tall in the oven and deflates when I took it out of the oven
– The oven temperature is too high that the cake rises too quickly and then shrinks badly
– Too much baking powder in the recipe (this recipe doesn’t use any baking powder)
– You open the oven door during baking.
7. My chiffon cake has many holes inside
– Too many air bubbles trapped inside the batter. Make sure you tap the pan a few times before baking and drawing a zigzag using a skewer inside the batter helps to pop those bubbles too
– Baking powder can cause this issue too. I used to bake my chiffon cake with a baking powder, which usually yields a bit taller cake compared to when I don’t use one, but I also notice that there would be more air holes inside the cake no matter how much effort I put in to pop those bubbles. So, I don’t really use baking powder anymore because you don’t really need it if you whip your meringue to the right consistency and follow other instructions carefully
8. My chiffon cake feels wet
– It could be too much liquid in the cake recipe
– Your oven temperature may be too low or inaccurate
– You probably just need to bake the cake a bit longer. Every oven can be different, so you need to know your oven
9. My chiffon cake shrinks
It is normal for chiffon cake to shrink a bit after it has cooled down, but it shouldn’t collapse or lose half of its weight. It could be that you don’t whip the meringue correctly, the cake is underbaked, you open the oven door during baking, or you didn’t invert the cake pan immediately after baking. You can review the Q&A above for those
10. Can I bake chiffon cake in a regular non-tube pan ?
Yes you can, but this requires a totally different baking method. I recommend a water-bath method to prevent the cake from collapsing and to prevent cracks on top. Similar to baking this ogura cake or this Taiwanese castella cake. You can also bake at a lower temperature, lower rack, and longer time without the water bath. This requires an experiment on your part to figure out the temperature that works for your oven
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.
For example: This recipe uses 100 gr cake flour for an 8-inch cake. You can use 85 gr of all-purpose flour + 15 gr of cornstarch. Easy as that!
BAKING TIME FOR DIFFERENT CHIFFON CAKE SIZE
These baking times are based on a conventional oven with bottom heat only (no fan). If you use a top and bottom heat oven, it is usually hotter, you may need to adjust the temperature down by about 10-15 degrees or shorten the baking time.
For 6-inch chiffon cake: 330 F (165 C) for 35-40 minutes , then lower temperature to 300 F (150 C) for 5-10 minutes
For 7-inch chiffon cake: 330 F (165 C) for 40-45 minutes, then lower temperature to 300 F (150 C) for 5-10 minutes
For 8-inch chiffon cake: 330 F (165 C) for 45-50 minutes, then lower the temperature to 300 F (150 C) for 10-15 minutes
For 10-inch chiffon cake: 330 F (165 C) for 50-55 minutes, then lower the temperature to 300 F (150 C) for 10-15 minutes
CAN I FREEZE CHIFFON CAKE
Contrary to the belief that chiffon cake or any sponge cake is so fragile that it won’t freeze well, I find the opposite. I bake so much and I freeze my chiffon cakes and sponge cakes all the time. It’s so much better than keeping them in the fridge, which will dry them out. Here’s how:
1. Let the cake cools down completely
2. If uncut, wrap the whole cake in a cling wrap, 2 layers would be best, and then wrap with foil on the outside. If you have a box for it, put it inside, if not don’t worry about it. Put it in a spot where it won’t get squished while it’s still not completely frozen
3. If cut into slices, wrap 2-3 slices together with a cling wrap then the foil and put inside a freezer bag, push all the air out and seal
4. When ready to serve, thaw at room temperature and they are ready to be consumed. Try not to freeze for more than one month
Did you make this soft and fluffy pandan chiffon cake recipe?
I love it when you guys snap a photo and tag it to show me what you’ve made 🙂 Simply tag me @WhatToCookToday #WhatToCookToday on Instagram and I’ll be sure to stop by and take a peek for real!
How To Make Soft and Fluffy Pandan Chiffon Cake (Complete Guide)
Please use digital kitchen scale to weigh ingredients (Cup measurement is not recommended):
IF USING PANDAN JUICE (you will have leftover):
- 15 pandan leaves
- 150 ml water
RECIPE FOR 15 CM (6 INCHES) TUBE PAN:
- 2 egg whites (room temperature)
- ¼ tsp cream of tartar or 1/2 tsp of vinegar or lemon juice
- 40 gr granulated sugar 3 1/4 Tbsp (please don't cut down on sugar)
RECIPE FOR 18 CM (7 INCHES) TUBE PAN:
- 3 egg whites room temperature
- ¼ tsp cream of tartar or use 1/2 tsp of lemon juice or vinegar
- 50 gr granulated sugar
RECIPE FOR 20-22 CM (8-9 INCHES) TUBE PAN:
- 5 egg whites room temperature
- ½ tsp cream of tartar or use 1 tsp of lemon juice or vinegar
- 60 gr granulated sugar
RECIPE FOR 26 CM (10 INCHES) TUBE PAN:
- 8 egg whites room temperature, from 58 grams egg with a shell
- ½ tsp cream of tartar or use 1 tsp of lemon juice or vinegar
- 100 gr granulated sugar
- Make sure your chiffon cake pan does not have a non-stick coating or your cake will not rise. The cake needs to cling to the side of the pan to rise tall
- Before you start making the recipe, make sure eggs, pandan juice, and coconut milk (if you keep in the fridge) are at room temperature. Get them out from the fridge 20-30 minutes and let them sit at room temperature before you plan to start working on this
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 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. Measure out the amount of pandan juice you need and keep the leftover in the fridge for up to one week
Prepare the cake batter:
- Preheat your oven to 330 F (165 C) for conventional oven. If you have a convection oven, I suggest lowering the temperature by 25 F (15 C). Place the oven rack 3rd from the top (or adjust accordingly, you will know your oven best)
- Place the egg whites in a clean mixing bowl. I use a stand mixer with a whisk attachment. You will have trouble whipping your meringue if there's a trace of grease in your utensils or bowls
- Separate the egg yolks from the white. The meringue whips better at room temperature. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and cooking oil, then add coconut milk and pandan essence. Sift in the cake flour, baking powder (if using), and salt into the batter, there will be no lumps when you do this. Whisk to mix into a smooth batter. Set aside
Whipping the meringue:
- Beat the egg whites on medium speed until frothy, add cream of tartar or lemon juice/vinegar and whip until it turns whitish and air bubbles are fine. Gradually add the sugar as you beat, in 3 batches. I beat them at medium speed (speed 6 on Kitchen Aid). This will take a bit longer compared to beating at high speed. I used to do higher speed (speed 8), but the meringue is smoother and nicer when I maintain the speed on 6. I highly recommend stopping several times to check on the consistency and scraping the sides of the bowl to make sure no sugar left on the side of the bowl. Whip until you reach a stiff peak but still have a slight bent on the tip. Then lower the speed to 4 and whip for 1 minute to even out large bubbles and stop beating
How to know if you have overbeaten the meringue:
- If you beat until the meringue clumps on the whisk attachment in one HUGE chunk/lump, you know you've gone too far beating the meringue. You will have to start over when you overbeat the meringue. If you use it, the meringue will separate when you fold it into the yolk batter and won't hold much air and your cake will deflate later
Fold meringue into the cake batter:
- Gently fold 1/3 of the meringue into the thick batter. Using a whisk, using a cutting motion and fold over to mix. Repeat this motion several rounds. Continue on with the second 1/3 of the meringue again to mix. For the last 1/3 of the meringue, use a rubber spatula instead to ensure you get all the batter at the bottom of the bowl mixed in as well. Use a cut down in the middle and fold over motion to fold gently but quickly. Make sure you don't see any more white meringue. The mixture should be fluffy and voluminous.
- Pour the batter into an UNGREASED chiffon cake pan. Use a rubber spatula to smooth the surface. Gently drop the cake pan from about 10 cm height on the counter 2-3 times. Use a skewer to draw a zig zag to pop bubbles inside the cake batter.
- Pop into the oven and let it bake for 50 minutes (for 8-inch chiffon cake), see my post above for more details on cooking time for a different size). 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 10-15 minutes
- NOTES on baking time: Please note that the baking time is just for reference. Your oven may bake faster or slower and the type of oven you use may be different than mine
Test for doneness:
- I know this is weird to say, but it's actually "safer" to overbake chiffon cake than underbaking. Underbaking tends to cause the cake to collapse. Usually if you insert a skewer inside the cake and no crumbs stick to it or very minimal crumbs, it is safe to say that the cake is cooked through. You can also touch the top and if it springs back, it's a good sign that it's cooked through. I like to have some golden brown on top. I don't know if you notice, but when the cake has a golden brown color on top, it's actually more flavorful too than when the cake is pale in color
- 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 know many people mind it a lot and make a big fuss when the top of the chiffon cake cracks, but actually it's not a flaw.
Invert to cool down immediately:
- Once out of the oven, drop the cake pan from about 10 cm height on the counter several times to prevent shrinkage. Then carefully invert the pan upside down immediately. 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 and the outer center of the tube to help release the cake. Gently push the base to lift the cake out. Use the knife again to run through the base of the pan and then carefully release the cake. There you have it !!! 🙂 Enjoy and try to finish it within 3 days (which I'm sure it will be gone before then)