Pandan (Screwpine) Chiffon Cake

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(Original Post Date:  December 06, 2010)

I’ve always been a fan of the Vietnamese sweets that incorporate Pandan flavor (Screwpine leaf)… but I’ve never seen a Pandan leaf – so I probably wouldn’t recognize it even it if was right in front of me. Thankfully, my friend Connie had a bottle of Pandan extract that she no longer had need for, and promised to show me what real Pandan leaves look like at the market.  Yeah!  Time to make a Pandan flavored chiffon cake!

Pandan Extract, by the way, is very potent – do not use an equivalent amount of Pandan Extract as you would, say, use vanilla extract.  Use only a few drops at a time – similar to using paste food coloring vs.  liquid food coloring.

Chiffon cakes are not hard to make.  Really!  The keys to a successful chiffon cake result involve:

1.  Beating your egg whites until stiff, with NO fat or yolk present in the bowl at all.

2.  GENTLY folding the egg whites into the batter.

3.  Using an UN-greased angel cake pan.


4.  Hanging the cake UPSIDE-DOWN until completely cool.

Follow these steps, and your chiffon cake should not fail.

Pandan Cake:

  • 8 egg whites
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1/3 c. canola oil
  • 1 c. coconut milk
  • 1 c. self-rising flour
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp. Pandan Extract

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Separate the egg whites from the egg yolks, setting aside 2 of the yolks for other uses.  (You can freeze the yolks in a Ziploc bag, and defrost for some other recipe in the future.)  Add the salt and cream of tartar to the egg whites.  Cream of Tartar will acidify and stabilize your egg white foam.  Make sure your bowl and beaters are completely clean – any trace of fat may cause your egg foam to fail.

2.  Using a electric hand mixer on the highest setting, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.  Then, gradually add in about 1/4 c. of the sugar, and continue to beat until you almost form stiff peaks.

3.  In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks with the remaining 1/2 c. of sugar until pale yellow in color.

4.  Add the coconut milk, pandan extract, and oil.  Beat until combined.

5.  Mix in the flour until just combined – do not over mix.

6.  Take 1/3 of the egg white foam and mix it into the egg yolk mixture.

7.  Take the second 1/3 of egg white foam and gently fold it into the mixture (about 10 seconds).  Don’t worry if there are still some bands of white.

8.  Take the last 1/3 of egg white foam and gently fold it into the mixture.  This should only take another 10 seconds – 15 seconds at the most.  Do not over mix or you will deflate your batter.

9.  Pour the batter into an UNGREASED angel food cake pan, preferably one that has a removable bottom.  Did I say UNGREASED?  If you grease the cake pan, all your work and ingredients will be wasted – I guarantee!

10.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes.  Remove, and immediately invert onto a cake rack.

11.  The cake must hang upside down (sticking to the walls of the cake pan and center tube for support) until completely cool.  Otherwise, the cake will collapse.

12.  Make sure the cake is completely cool (as far as you can tell) before you proceed.  Run a rubber or silicone spatula around the sides of the cake pan walls to free the cake, and remove the cake bottom (and cake).  Place the cake (top side down) onto a plate, and allow to cool for at least another hour.  During this time, the cake is still using the center tube for support.

13.  Use a butter knife to cut the cake from the tube in the center (you will have to flip it over to do this).  Then, use the silicone spatula to free the top of the cake from the bottom of the cake pan.  Lift out the cake pan bottom/tube.  Store covered at room temperature for up to 3 days.  Enjoy!


  1. Debbie says:

    Hi Mika. Just stumbled upon your site a few days ago and will try making your Hawaiian bread later today. I also want to make your chiffon cake, but will replace pandan extract with vanilla. Is 1 teaspoon enough? Also, if I use cake flour instead of self-rising flour (don’t have any), how much baking powder/soda should I use? Thank you and keep up the great work!

    • Mika Mika says:

      Hi Debbie!
      To substitute for self rising flour, I would use 1 c. all purpose flour + 1 tsp. baking powder. If you are planning on using cake flour, I would use 1 c. cake flour + 2 T. cake flour + 1 tsp. baking powder.

      You certainly can make this vanilla flavored instead of pandan… use vanilla bean paste if possible – I would go with at least 2 tsp. of vanilla extract or paste for a stronger vanilla flavor. (If you like coconut, you can even try using coconut extract.) :)

  2. Ann says:

    Is self rising flour better than all purpose plus baking powder? Or will the results be the same either way? Thanks!

    • Mika Mika says:

      The results should be the same. I prefer self-rising because it’s one less step in the recipe… but if you use regular flour, then make sure you sift all the dry ingredients together before using.