If you've never had a taste of chiffon cake, you are so missing out. It's the most lusciously light and airy cake that you could ever eat. You could easily devour a whole cake in one sitting because it's so light. Growing up in an Asian family, most desserts I've been introduced to are flavoured with pandan or coconut or both. It's quintessentially the South East Asian equivalent to Vanilla. Remember my pandan waffles? Hence why my very first chiffon cake I learn to bake is of course a pandan one. And everytime I've baked one, it just disappears so quickly. I've also tried a couple of variations from Pandan but the classic childhood favourite always reigns supreme. I think they call that nostalgia.
The chiffon cake is something that I have always feared until recently. I have always marvelled at those who are able to bake perfectly straight standing chiffon cakes at home but never thought I could ever master it. The chiffon cake's airy texture comes from whipped egg whites, pretty much similar to that of the souffle. I've been able to churn out some stunning souffles (and also befriended the fickle macaron recipe) so my twitter friend (and talented photographer) Mr Dexter Kewpie said I should be able to easily master the chiffon. He shared a couple of recipes with me which I sat on for a while because I was too chicken, and feared failure.
One day I decided to buy myself an angel cake tin (or bundt/tube pan) and some cake flour and thought I would tackle it head on. One of the blogs I was referred to had a lot of details on what you should and should not do and that was all so overwhelming at first but I kept going over the recipe again and again in my head until it was all clear to me. A few tips from Mr Kewpie also helped.
Recipe - Pandan Chiffon Cake
12 - 16 serves (approximately)
Adapted from the blog I Eat I Shoot
- 150ml coconut cream
- 100ml vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon pandan extract
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- 6 egg yolks
- 75g caster sugar
- 190g cake flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 9 egg whites
- 1 tsp cream of tartar
- 75g caster sugar
- Preheat the oven to 170 degrees celcius. You need a 25cm angel food/straight edged bundt cake pan with a detachable base. DO NOT grease it.
- Combine all the ingredients of Part A together in a bowl or jug.
- Beat the egg yolks together with the sugar until it is a pale creamy colour and has tripled in volume, approximately 5 minutes on medium to high speed. (Part B)
- Gently beat Part A into Part B.
- Sift ingredients of Part C into the egg yolk mixture and mix through.
- In another clean bowl with clean beaters, beat the egg whites together with the cream of tartar until foamy. Add all the sugar and beat until firm peaks form. (Part D)
- Fold one quarter of the egg white mixture into the egg yolk mixture to loosen the batter.
- Gently fold the rest of the egg white into the cake batter until it is thoroughly mixed through.
- Pour into the cake tin and bake on the middle shelf for about 45 minutes and then turn off the fan and bake for a further 15 minutes.
- Take the cake pan out of the oven and invert it over an upside down funnel or narrow necked weighted bottle (e.g wine bottle). Leave it to 'hang' and cool completely before removing from the pan. Run a knife around the middle tube and then around the outside edge of the pan to release the sides and middle of the cake. Push the base out of the pan and invert the cake onto a plate and then run the knife between the base and the cake to release it.
- Enjoy your chiffon cake with a cup of tea, just don't eat it all in one sitting.
- Cake flour is available at Asian grocers however I buy mine from Woolworths - I use the Lighthouse brand which comes in a red and white box. It is a lower protien flour that gives the cake it's light as air texture. The flour already has a raising agent but I still add the additonal baking powder - it gives extra lift to the cake.
- Coconut cream is all I had when I made my first pandan chiffon but I like using it now because it gives a nice rich flavour. You can use coconut milk which is what the original recipe calls for.
- I have not given a time or speed for the beating of the egg yolks and whites as every mixer is different. The best way to judge when it is ready is by looking at it. It also helps if you have previously made meringues and creamed egg yolks.
- If you are using a stand mixer and only have one mixing bowl, transfer the egg yolk mixture to a separate bowl before beating the egg whites, make sure the bowl and beaters are squeaky clean.
- I used a 25cm non stick angel food cake pan with removable base, this recipe yields a very large cake. It is preferable that the cake pan is not non-stick as this may effect the cakes rising ability as the batter does not have a non slippery surface to 'grip' to as it rises. However, after many uses the non stick cake pan will have been conditioned enough that it will provide more grip for the cake batter.
- I don't really recommend baking your chiffon in a regular cake pan. I had trouble with my cake gripping to the bottom of the pan as I lined mine with baking paper so that I could turn the cake out easily. You could bake without the baking paper lining the bottom of the pan but it is a little trickier to remove the cake.
- Your oven may work differently to mine so always monitor your cake. It will need at least the 45 minutes to cook.
- As great as the temptation is to turn the cake out before it is cold, DO NOT touch it before it has completely cooled down. It is also important to invert the cake pan as the cake 'stretches' down as it cools. This helps to stabilise the cake and minimise the chance of it collapsing on you. I've had my fair share of sinking cakes the first few times I made chiffon. The excitement is just so great you want to see what it looks like out of the pan. Still tasty though ;)
- There are many different recipes out there and at the end of the day, sometimes it just comes down to personal preference and experience. I started with this recipe and am so happy with it, I won't try and 'fix what isn't broken'.
- Practice, practice, practice! Every chiffon cake I make gets better and better and better, until I was recently brave enough to let a pastry chef try it and he declared it a 'perfectly baked chiffon cake'. Thanks Simon! ;)
Earl Grey: Omit the pandan extract and replace the coconut cream with some warm milk. Infuse the milk with 3 earl grey tea bags before added the rest of the ingredients in Part A. Break open an extra earl grey tea bag and mix the contents through the egg yolk mixture after the flour is mixed in.
Ube: Omit the pandan extract and replace the coconut cream with milk. Add 1 cup of ube mash with the milk and mix into the egg yolk mixture before adding in the flour.
*Ube is available from Filipino grocers, it comes cooked and grated in a frozen pack. Defrost before using.*
Pandan extract is available is most Asian grocers. My Mum buys it by the litre so we always have it at home.
Ube Macapuno Chiffon Cake for Ryan's mum's birthday. She loved it so much she even dared to say my version of the ube macapuno cake was even better than the traditional Filipino ones. Ube is a purple yam that is popular with Filipino desserts, similar to how taro is popular with other South East Asian countries.
Macapuno is a young coconut fibre (or sport) that comes from a mutilated coconut. I sandwiched layers of ube chiffon cake with ube cream cheese frosting and macapuno strips and then covered the cake in some more ube cream cheese frosting and then decorated it with some dessicated coconut.
For my uncle's 50th birthday I made a pandan chiffon cake with a luscious coconut butter cream made with coconut cream and covered it in some hazelnut praline I had sitting around leftover from another cake. Topped the cake with some Ferrero Rafaello balls.
This is the 'perfectly baked' earl grey chiffon which I made for our pop up DESSERTed Dinner Party which we held last month.
The latest pandan chiffon cake that I baked was even more perfect then perfect. They do say, practice makes perfect! Good luck if you will be attempting a chiffon cake for the first time.