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*14 June 2010- The original recipe below contained 100ml of oil- I have since amended that to only 50ml as I've found it produces a lighter, fluffier sponge. If you prefer an even drier and less moist cake, try omitting one yolk or reducing the amount of sugar slightly.
Coconut milk and pandan (screwpine leaves) essence make this a light, spongey and deliciously aromatic Malaysian classic. The secret to its characteristic fluffy yet moist texture comes from whipping the egg whites very well and inverting the pan immediately onto its three "legs" once removed from the oven, so the sponge can stretch and retain its airy volume whilst cooling upside down. Don't worry, the cake will stick and not fall out :)
I use pandan paste (a mix of essence and green colouring) which is easily available in any Asian shop- if you can be bothered, feel free to blend fresh pandan leaves with water and extract the natural juice.
You MUST use a chiffon/angel food cake tube pan (pictured below) and not a regular tin- the hollow tube in the centre is essential for the correct circulation of heat.
Malaysian Pandan Chiffon Cake
* fits a 10" or 22cm pan or larger*
Whisk together until thick in a large bowl:
6 egg yolks
Stir in until evenly green:
50ml vegetable oil
50ml thick coconut cream (or use 100ml thinner coconut milk and omit the 50ml water used to dilute the pandan paste below)
1 tsp pandan paste, diluted in 50 ml water (or 50 ml pandan juice)
Sift into the pandan mixture and fold until well-mixed:
190g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
Using a separate bowl and electric whisk that are completely dry, clean and grease-free, beat the following on maximum speed for a good 5-8 minutes until a thick white meringue is formed:
6 egg whites (there must be no traces of yolk)
Few drops lemon juice
How the meringue mixture should look after beating- stiff enough to leave trails
on your whisk and form soft peaks
Fold two tablespoons of the meringue into the pandan batter. Add the rest and fold thoroughly until well-combined. Pour into a dry ungreased chiffon pan and bake at 180 C (160 C fan-assisted) for 1 hour.
Remove from the oven and invert immediately (if your pan comes without the protuding tabs to support it upside down, invert the pan and insert the neck of a bottle or a metal funnel into the inner tube to balance). Leave to cool in this position and do not unmould cake until completely cold.
To remove, scrape all around the sides with a thin spatula and let the cake slip out gently of the pan. Scrape the bottom to remove the base/tube.
*To make sure it has a completely flat surface to sit on, I cheat and cut the tops off my cakes if they are rounded before unmoulding :)*
Slice and enjoy!