Considering how widely available and affordable chiffon cakes are, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s a local invention.
However, it was created in 1927 by Californian insurance salesman Henry Baker, who kept his recipe a secret for 20 years before selling it to American food manufacturer Betty Crocker.
While no one knows when or how chiffon cakes arrived in this part of the world, ours has pandan in it to suit local taste buds.
In fact, the Pandan Chiffon Cake is such a classic that CNN named it the national cake of Malaysia and Singapore in 2017.
• 160g cake flour
• ½ tsp baking powder
• ¼ tsp salt
• 265g egg whites, roughly from 7 eggs
• 145g granulated sugar
• 4g (1 tsp) cream of tartar
• 64g egg yolks, roughly from 4 eggs
• 63g vegetable oil
• 7g (1 tsp) pandan emulco
• 70g coconut cream
• Aluminium tube pan/chiffon pan with a removable base
• Electric mixer
• Metal mixing bowl
• Preheat oven to 175°C
Part 1: Sifting
• In a regular mixing bowl, sift cake flour, baking powder and salt three times. This helps aerate the flour and prevent lumps which can weigh down the batter. You’ll notice that the flour gets a little fluffier with each sift. Set aside.
Part 2: Egg whites
• To make meringue: In a metal mixing bowl, beat egg whites with an electric mixer until bubbly and foamy right through.
• Add cream of tartar and continue beating until peaks start to form. Cream of tartar helps stabilise the egg whites. If you’re an expert at making meringues, you can omit the cream of tartar if you prefer.
• Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, to your egg whites, and continue beating until they are glossy and peaks are firm but not stiff – you are not making pavlova. Set aside.
Part 3: Batter
• In a separate mixing bowl, add egg yolk, oil and coconut milk and beat until smooth.
• Next, add the pandan emulco and continue mixing until the colour has evenly spread. You should have a lovely lime green-toned and pandan-scented mixture.
• Add in the thrice-sifted flour into the egg yolk and pandan mixture. Use your mixer to combine the ingredients thoroughly. As coconut milk is quite thick, you’ll end up with a dense, thick and rather lumpy looking batter.
Part 4: Combining the ingredients
• Next, and this is where things can get a little tricky, add in 1/3 of the egg whites into the batter, gently folding it in. Once it looks more or less even, use the mixer once again to mix the batter until smooth and thoroughly combined.
• Add in another 1/3 and this time, gently fold the egg whites in. Do not use the mixer. Once combined, add in the final 1/3 of the egg whites and gently fold in until smooth and just combined.
Part 5: Baking and resting the Pandan Chiffon Cake
• Pour the batter into an ungreased tube pan, bake in the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
• Once the cake is done in the oven, take it out and invert the tube pan over a bottle, cake plate or tray until it is completely cool or anywhere with a flat surface that is slightly elevated.
• Let it rest and completely cool while upside down. Inverting the chiffon cake helps it to remain fluffy as the cake will not flatten and collapse on itself as it cools and the hot pockets of air shrink. Cooling times will vary according to your room temperature.
• Once the cake is cool, turn the pan right side up. You’ll notice that the edges have begun to separate, but not sufficiently to remove the cake just yet. Run a knife along the edges of the pan to separate the cake from the walls of the pan.
• Invert the cake once again (so the base is on top) and remove the outer part of the pan. Then, run a knife under the base of the pan, separating the cake and allowing it to gently fall onto a plate.
Be quick, as you don’t want the cake to break apart. If part of the cake has been detached while another remains stuck to the base for too long, your cake can and will break. If you are a little cautious of your skill to execute this part swiftly, turn you cake right side up again and run the knife along the base.
Then, while gently but firmly supporting your cake, invert the base with the cake over your plate, allowing the cake to slowly drop onto the plate, before removing the base completely.
• Cut into wedges to serve.
This article first appeared in butterkicap.com
Butterkicap is a food and culture platform and community that enables anyone to experience Malaysia through stories of her people, food and places.