A cake always means a celebration in our family. We’re celebrating exciting events this weekend : my son’s college graduation, Father’s day, my birthday, my blogs’ anniversaries and one of the sweetest things to happen – a nice shout out from Gourmet Live for my other blog “Queen’s Notebook”. Yes, THE Gourmet Live came to visit my blogs to feature mine as “Food Blog of the Week” ! Thank you, Gourmet Live !
Right away, I must apologize for not showing the entire cake photo. This Pandan Cake was so divine that we ate it all up and nearly forgot to take photos for the blog. Pandan-flavored desserts are family favorites. My sons drive back home for nearly 70 miles to have a slice of this cake, or the “buko-pandan” desserts I make.
To the unfamiliar, Pandan (say “pan-dan”) also known as screwpine is a tropical palm-like plant. Its leaves are long, blade-like, green, slim and shiny. It is a plant that is common in the tropics or the Pacific, according to our Wikipedia friends.
The pandan is very versatile and used often in Asian cooking. The pandan can further enhance a dish if paired with coconut or curry. We cook it in rice, cook seafood with it, make iced tea from it, bake desserts with it. You’ll experience a fragrant, delicate aroma and savor a delightful almond-like sweet flavor from it.
I have such sweet memories of pandan .Growing up, I remember my parents cooked boiled rice with pandan leaves on top of it and the sweet aroma of the steam coming from the boiling pot was unforgettable.
During a culinary heritage tour of the Pampanga province, back in the Philippines, I was treated to a most thirst-quenching and refreshing tall glass of Pandan iced tea at the home of heritage cooking authority Lillian Borromeo. Oh, it was good, I assure you!
While traveling in Manila recently, I found a wonderful Pandan cake recipe in a beautiful cookbook called “Bake Me a Cake” by Ginny Roces de Guzman. And a greater treat was when I found out that one of my Besa nieces, Tina Besa, was part of the author’s terrific team that designed the book. Hurray for the creative talents in our family!
I lost no time in baking from this cookbook. I was mesmerized by the marvelous photos of so many familiar cakes I used to bake when I lived in Manila. Finally, I had a good resource for replicating old baked favorites, most especially the Pandan cake.
This cake is based on a basic sponge cake recipe. The original recipe suggests boiling some pandan leaves and using the water from it to flavor the sponge cake. I tried that and it gave us a delicate, tender flavor and aroma. Then I baked the same recipe again, this time using the bottled pandan flavoring essence, which I got from the Asian grocery. Both ways, it was undeniably good. Which ones do I make more often? It depends. Yes, it depends on the pandan leaves availability. The best I can manage is buying the frozen pandan leaves from the Asian grocery’s freezer section. Either way, the pandan cake remains a constant hit at home.
As I type this, a second Pandan cake is baking in the oven. It will travel 70+ miles. I am bringing it to my sons to celebrate a college graduation, my birthday and Father’s day. By the time you read this, we will have sliced the cake and celebrated together many blessings and happy memories .
Of course, we, in the family are great fans of cake frosting. The frosting on this cake was a medley of heavy cream, whipped cream, confectioners’ sugar and laced with pandan bottled extract. The piece de resistance was a wallop of sweet Macapuno strings (also called “coconut sport”) to further drive home the dessert’s decadence. Is there any doubt now why my sons travel far to come home to this cake?
Graduation greetings: We proudly congratulate our son, Constante, who graduates from Drexel University, Class 2012, BA Communications & Global Journalism, minor in Sociology, cum laude.
This Pandan cake with a creamy coconut -pandan frosting is based on a basic sponge cake recipe. The original recipe suggests boiling some pandan leaves and using the water from it to flavor the sponge cake. I tried that and it gave us a delicate, tender flavor and aroma. Then I baked the same recipe again, this time using the bottled pandan flavoring essence, which I got from the Asian grocery. Both ways, the pandan cake remains a constant hit at home.
*Notes on Pandan: Cookbook author, Ginny Roces de Guzman refers to pandan as the “vanilla” of the east for the fragrance and flavor its elongated blade-like leaves impart to both sweet and savory dishes. She further suggests wrapping, tying and lining pans with pandan leaves for an intense hue and unique flavor. Recipe adapted from the cookbook “Bake Me a Cake” by Ginny Roces de Guzman.
- cake flour - 3/4 cup
- baking powder - 1 and 1/2 teaspoons
- salt - 1/4 teaspoon
- egg whites - 6 (separate 3 egg yolks for the batter)
- cream of tartar - 1/4 teaspoon
- granulated sugar - 1/3 cup
- pandan bottled extract - 1 Tablespoon (from Asian groceries)
- warm water - 1/4 cup
- green food color - 1 drop
- heavy cream - 2 cups, for frosting
- whipped cream - 1 cup, for frosting
- confectioners' sugar - 3/4 cup, for frosting
- pandan bottled extract - 2 Tablespoons (from Asian groceries), for frosting
- bottled sweet macapuno strings or - 1 cup (from Asian groceries), for frosting
- granulated sugar - 3/4 cup, for eggyolks in batter
- egg yolks - 3 (separated from the whites), for batter
- Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees. Grease the bottom of a 9-inch round tube cake pan or line with parchment paper.
- Sift the cake flour, salt, baking powder together in a bowl. Set aside.
- Separate the eggs into two mixing bowls. In a mixer, using the wire whisk attachment beat the egg whites first. Add the cream of tartar at the start of beating. Beat at low speed first. When it starts to foam up, increase speed to medium. When bubbles are finer, slowly add the 2/3 cup sugar. Beat at high speed till shiny and soft peaks form. Remove this bowl and work on the egg yolks.
- Using the same wire whisk attachment, beat the yolks on medium speed until thick and light colored. Add the 3/4 cup granulated sugar in two parts. Lower the speed and add the pandan water.
- Fold in the sifted dry ingredients by hand. Do not use the mixer for this step.
- Once the yolk mixture is incorporated well, start folding slowly one fourth of the egg whites into the yolks. Gradually add the egg whites, folding slowly each time. I do the folding in three parts. Be careful not to deflate the mix when folding in. But take care in thoroughly mixing the whites or a heavy, gumy bottom layer can form.
- Ladle the cake batter into the greased pan. Bake for 55 minutes if using a tube pan.
- Test cake for doneness. When done, remove the cake from the oven. Invert tube pan onto a cake rack. Let the cake cool completely before frosting.
- To prepare frosting : at high speed in a mixer, using a wire whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream till stiff. This should take 8 to 10 minutes. Then add the whipped cream and beat for 5 minutes more. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar and the pandan extract.
- Keep the frosting in the refrigerator first, while the pandan cake is cooling on the rack. Be patient. Do not frost the cake if it is still hot. Wait at least 2 hours or more for cake to cool completely.
- Frost cake with the cream frosting. Top with the bottled macapuno strings. Chill cake till ready to serve. Keep cake in the refrigerator or freezer to store.
- *To make Pandan water : If pandan leaves are available and you prefer to use them, wash 4 or 5 pandan leaves and tie into a loose knot at the end. The knot is made to make it easy to remove the leaves after boiling. Put the leaves in a small saucepan and cover with ¾ cup water. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Leave in the water to cool. Measure out ¼ cup of the water for the pandan sponge cake.
- CORRECTION : Thanks to our readers who kindly pointed out a typo omission - we missed typing in the 3/4 cup granulated sugar for the egg yolks in this recipe. My sincere apologies for the error. I have made the corrections.
*Warning: This cake is so delicious, it does not last too long. Proof is in our photos. We ate it all up and only had one slice left to photograph.