Sunday, February 11, 2007

Green with Envy?

Screwpine leaves, or more commonly known as pandan leaves, is a widely used plant in Asian cooking, especially in Thai, Indonesian and Malaysian cuisine. A plant with a floral fragrance, it can be used in savoury dishes such as in curries or nasi lemak (coconut-flavoured rice). Of course, when blended with water, pandan leaves can be used as a natural food colouring, imparting a lovely green hue to cakes, puddings, sweets and jellies.

Pandan leaves are readily available here, and are sold in bunches of about 8 to 10 blades. Some families even grow their own pandan plant!

I always like to use pandan leaves to make chiffon cakes, because pandan chiffon cake is something which I grew up with. So when I learnt to make chiffon cakes, this is the first flavour I attempted. This time I made something different - Pandan Butter Cake.

Pandan Butter Cake

225g cake flour (or Top Flour)
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
85g unsalted butter, cut into pieces
180g sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup(240ml) nonfat unsweetened yogurt
30ml pandan juice*
¼ tsp pandan essence**

Some chopped nuts(optional)

1) Preheat oven to 180C and grease 8”x4” loaf tin (I'm using a bundt pan this time)
2) Sift together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
3) Mix together yogurt, pandan juice and pandan essence.
4) Cream the butter for about 1 min to soften. Gradually sugar and beat until light and creamy. Dribble in eggs slowly, about 1 tbsp at a time, beating constantly for about 2 mins.
5) On LOW speed, beat in 1/3 of the flour mixture until just combined. Beat in ½ of the yogurt. Then beat in 1/2 of the remaining flour mixture, followed by the remaining yogurt. Finally beat in the remaining flour mixture. Fold in the nuts if using .
6) Pour the batter into the prepared tin.
7) Bake for about 35- 45 mins till skewer inserted comes out clean.
8) Cool in pan for 5 mins. Unmold and cool completely.

* Blend about 5 to 6 blades of pandan leaves with some water. Strain using a sieve to obtain juice.
** I used pandan essence as well to impart a deeper green colour to the cake. You can omit it, but the cake will have a very light green hue.

This is a moist and light butter cake, with a distinctive, but not overpowering, pandan flavour. A refreshing change from the usual chiffon cake.

This is my post for this week's Weekend Herb Blogging (though I'm not sure if I can submit in time). Nevertheless, this week WHB returns home to Kalyn's Kitchen, who is the founder of this blog event, which is into it's second year running. Please check out her kitchen for the re-cap of the posts on herbs, fruits, flowers etc submitted by food bloggers around the world!


Kalyn Denny said...

The cake looks lovely. I'v heard of these before, but never seen them or tasted them.

Anne said...

Your cake looks really delicious. I bet it smells good too. This is something new to try :)

Anh said...

Angie, I adore pandan leaves and would love to try your butter cake (& pandan cake also!). :)I see you use yoghurt in your cake. This would make the cake very moist and fluffy, am I right?

^cherie said...

I love pandan cakes!

Whenever my mom comes visiting, i'll specially ask her to buy my fav mini pandan cakes from KL. Absolutely aromatic, moist and delicious.

Will try out your recipe soon.. see if it'll taste the same as my fav cake..Thanks for the recipe! :)

sher said...

I love the color, it's very subtle, not garish like many green colors in cakes. The cake texture looks delicious!!!

Helene said...

It looks delicious although I never came across pandan leaves here. :(
Shame I can´t try online. :(

Gattina Cheung said...

Angie, you always get that green color perfect! The cake looks so light almost thought it's sponge cake! Beautiful!!!

Marieke said...

I just love Pandan cake! I used to eat it with my Indonesian friend. I never made it myself but the ingredients should be available in a toko over here. I adore this light mgreen colour and the lightness of the cake. Perfect!

Unknown said...

Kalyn, if you ever get hold of pandan leaves, can give it a try :)

Anne, thanks. Hope you give it a go!

Anh, you're so right. The yogurt works the 'magic' in this cake to give it the moist and soft texture. I actually adapted it from Alice Medrich's recipes.

Sherie, you're most welcome :). Hope they will turn out good.

Sher, I love the colour too, some that are too bright green scares me off, wonder what they put inside to make them 'flourescent'.

Gattina, thanks pal, you're always so sweet :D

Marieke, so glad to hear you like like pandan, it's a lovely ingredient.

Cuisine Paradise said...

Wow.. Angie, Your new pandan cake look great! I sure going to try this out since i got some Top Flour left after making the new year cookies. Can i check with y ou, the nonfat unsweetened yogurt is it the "Plain unfavour Yogurt"? May i know which brand u used. Thanks. :)

Cuisine Paradise said...

Halo.. Angie,
I made your this Pandan Butter Cake today..'s veri unusual and lovely... although it does not have the coconut fragrant of the normal pandan cake..but it's realli a new taste with yoghurt added... thanks :)

Unknown said...


So sorry, not able to reply you in time coz I just got back from M'sia today. I'm glad you gave it a try, it's a new taste isn't it? Moist and not too heavy after eating :p

Cuisine Paradise said...

No worries Angie,

You came back just in time to see my pandan cake...:) By the way i just used those plain greek yogurt to make it..... and it turn out well.. mosit and healthy... :)

Linda said...

green! i love this blog. this cake looks so delightful. thanks for the post!!

Glory said...

hi angie,
i'm new to your blog. tried out your pandan butter cake last night. like the taste of it, soft & not too heavy. even dh who is not really fond of cakes, had 3-4 slices!! :-) however, encountered some problems. my cake cracked & took a longer time to cook (about an hour). i used a 20cmx20cm tray. [oh, & i just realised that i used 1/2tsp of baking powder instead of 1tsp-could that be the reason?]. i'm still very new to baking so dont know where the problem lies. can you help enlighten me?? & by the way, if i want to make a butter cake with this recipe, can i just omit the pandan juice & substitute the pandan essence with 1tsp of vanilla essence? thank you very much for sharing your recipes.. love your blog!

Glory said...

oh yea, & the texture of my cake is not as smooth & fine as yours.. i used low protein flour (still havent found any cake flour here in melbourne).. thanks.. :-)

Unknown said...

Hi Glory,

Thanks for dropping by, and am glad you like the cake :)

Yes, you're right, for butter cake, just omit pandan juice and essence(use 1 to 1-1/2 tsp vanilla essence).

If you cake cracks, your oven could be too hot, or your cake is too near the top heating element.

Each oven is different, so the timing may differ. Just make sure that when you test with a skewer, it comes out clean, and the cake is done. You may want to check the temperature accuracy of your oven too, just to be sure it is not off.

The amt of B.P should not affect the timing of baking, coz it is more of a leavener.

Hope I managed to answer your questions :)

Glory said...

hi angie,
thanks for your response.. tried the cake again last night!! :-) err.. i think it was an improvement from last time but it still cracked.. i put it on the middle rack, maybe i should try putting it at the bottom of the oven?? [i used only bottom heating, should i use both top & bottom heating??]

sorry i have one more question. my cake is not as soft & smooth in texture as your. it was like 'crumbly', when i cut it, it was like falling apart!! is there any particular reason for that??

sorry i have soo many questions for u.. hope you dont mind.. this is my new found 'hobby'.. :-)

thanks again for all your help!!

Unknown said...

Hi Glory,

Seadragon has recently written about the possible reasons for cracks in butter cakes here(look under 'Comments'):

Like him, I'm not really bothered by the cracks, as long as they taste good :p. Hope that helps.

Brigitte said...

Hallo Angie,

I love everything with pandan leaves. I use them as a food colouring (and flavouring) in rice (e.g. for Hainanese chicken rice, in cakes, in marzipan, in icing,...
I love the smell and the taste of it. For me it is the Asian "vanilla bean".

Unknown said...

Hi Brigitte,

I love your description - asian vanilla bean :p. Pandan is indeed a great natural flavouring agent.

Cranberry said...

Hi Angie,

I love pandan cake and yours look so yummilicious. Will give it a try on the recipe soon. Thanks for sharing.

Unknown said...

Hello Cranberry,

You're most welcome. Let me know if you like it if you do try it okay? :)

aisha said...

I've been admiring various pandan cake recipes for a while now, and now that i've got my hands on a can of pandan leaf extract, I plan to give your yummy-looking recipe a try!