Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Baking with Grandma - Pandan Cake

Disaster always seem to strike when one is least prepared for it and it turns out that the boiler (no respecter of time and place) broke sometime over Christmas, whilst we were away. In search of somewhere warm to stay (somewhere which also had hot water and that wasn't too far away) we ended up at The Mother-In-Law's house. Naturally MIL was overjoyed to see her son and grand-daughter, and welcomed us with open arms. 

Now MIL, has some times found it a bit hard to get to grips with Baby's problems with milk, and mine with gluten, but one thing that she has grasped hold of, with great delight, is that Baby can have Pandan Cake - what Baby has christened 'Smudgey Cake'. Pandan Cake (in case you don't know) also known as Chiffon Cake, is a cake originates from Malaysia. Usually it is green in colour - the colour coming from the Pandan leaf extract, that is traditionally used to make it. 

However, you can make the cake without the Pandan extract; it ends up looking like this:

Pandan Cake minus the Pandan
A few years ago, I attempted to make this cake for The Hub's birthday. It was NOT a great success - whether the tin (which I thought I had gone to great lengths to obtain) was wrong (it was non-stick); or whether I didn't beat the eggs enough (I thought I had followed the recipe to the 'T'); or the oven was the wrong temperature (I bought an oven thermometer not long after, which showed the oven wasn't working properly) I don't know, although I suspect the latter. 

Whatever the problem was, this is what I ended up with:

Here's how NOT to do it!
You might like to note that the top half has risen, but the bottom half didn't. My Malaysian friend suggested that the problem might be the cake tin, as the tin she uses is non-stick and she told me the cake needs to rise up the sides of the tin.

The tin I bought was an angel cake tin, just like this one from Amazon. I notice that one reviewer has also used it for Pandan Cake and hers turned out fine, so I tend to think the tin was not the problem. My sister-in-law has since told me that you don't actually need the tine and can make muffins with the mix, instead, which I am tempted to try, as the tin can be a pain to clean.

Since then, I haven't attempted Pandan Cake again, although I am tempted. However, every time we go to MIL's, she makes it, anyway. I probably would give it a go, now that I have my oven thermometer, BUT it is a HUGE cake, and the three of us couldn't possibly eat it all by ourselves!!

Note how low the batter looks in the tin. It will rise right to the top!
So, this morning, Baby and Grandma made it again, and I thought I'd share it with you, as it is naturally dairy free. With Dove's gluten free flour, or rice flour, it can be made gluten free, but since an incident when MIL thought she had made it gluten free but hadn't (as I later discovered, when my gut reacted) we've steered clear of that one!

There are various recipes online, but the one that MIL uses is this recipe, by Diana's desserts. She doesn't use it completely as written but omits the 'ovalette,' Pandan paste and Pandan extract, and uses just a third of a can of coconut milk (the thin stuff rather than the thick stuff) - topping up with some water to add extra moisture. It still makes a great cake, though.

The other thing to note is that the egg whites take a LOT of beating! The MIL's acid test is to hold the basin upside down over her head!! If the mixture doesn't fall out, that's a promising sign. This is where a Kitchen Aid would come in handy. Unfortunately neither we nor the MIL has one, which is where a Toddler Aid comes in very handy!!

Toddler at work!
The cake takes some patience, after all the whipping, cooking the cake takes some time and once it comes out of the oven, it needs to cool (for about an hour, according to MIL). This is what the MIL does with hers:

Yes, it is upside down!
The finished cake should be fluffy, light and moist. NOT like the that one I made - the top half was okay, but the bottom half definitely didn't rise and wasn't cooked. I find the cake doesn't last well, if it's not kept in a cool spot. The danger of this cake is not going stale, but going mouldy, so I think it needs eating within about three to four days.

A slice for Baby

Hmm! Having smelt the cake baking and looking at the slice pictured here, I think I might just have to give Pandan another try after all!

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