THE cake in Vietnamese cuisine is a pandan chiffon cake. It is served at almost every major celebration from birthdays to weddings. This vibrant green cake is known for its coconut-y, pandan-y flavor, and its soft and airy texture. My version of this cake utilizes natural pandan flavor through the use of fresh pandan leaves and pandan extract, giving it the best end-to-end pandan flavor. In this blog post, learn how to consistently achieve that fluffy, bouncy texture that everybody loves.

Pandan chiffon cake on a white marble cake stand.

Perhaps the dessert ingredient that is most loved in the Vietnamese community is pandan. And in the past year, I have come to love it too as I’ve learned more about it and used it in my dishes. Some of my favorite pandan recipes include pandan waffles (a huge favorite in the Vietnamese community) and pandan ice cream. Since Mother’s Day is coming up, I wanted to make my mom’s favorite cake that of course includes pandan – pandan chiffon cake or just pandan cake to most people.

Pandan chiffon cake on a white marble cake stand.

What is a pandan chiffon cake?

Pandan chiffon cake is THE cake in Vietnamese cuisine. This cake is served for every special occasion from birthdays to weddings to dinner parties. It is characterized by its bright green color and light, bouncy texture. “Bouncy” is how my mom described it. The green color and pandan flavor come from pandan leaves and pandan extract. But what really makes this cake unique is the texture which comes from a meringue that is folded into the cake batter. The texture is lighter than that of a normal cake.

How I developed my pandan chiffon cake recipe

My goals for this recipe was to create a cake that was not too sweet with tons of pandan flavor and a texture that is airy and bouncy. I started with a standard chiffon cake recipe with pandan flavoring utilizing both pandan extract and pandan leaves. I tested it a couple times to make sure I got the texture and flavor right. The most difficult part of this recipe was the texture. I found it difficult not to deflate the meringue as I was folding it into the cake batter. The cake didn’t rise that much, and it was so dense in the middle.

My mom tried this version of my pandan cake, and she said it wasn’t “bouncy” enough. She also said it was too sweet, and it didn’t have enough pandan flavor. So in my next batch, I doubled the amount of pandan leaves as well as reduced the sugar. I also VERY CAREFULLY folded the meringue into the cake batter to ensure I didn’t deflate the meringue too much. I think it helped that I didn’t over mix it this time.

pandan leaves in a blender

Ingredients, Substitutions & Adjustments

Pandan Juice

The pandan juice is made of pandan leaves and water blended together. You can find pandan leaves in the frozen food section at some Asian speciality stores. If you can’t find fresh pandan, I would use 1 tsp of pandan extract and reduce the cake flour to 1 3/4 cup.

Pandan Chiffon Cake

  • Cake flour – Cake flour is a low protein flour that is perfect for making tender cakes. I would not recommend substituting with all purpose flour since that will affect the texture of the cake.
  • Granulated sugar – Adds sweetness to the cake. As I mentioned above, I reduce the sugar already from my original recipe, but if you still find it too sweet, feel free to reduce it even further.
  • Baking powder – Baking powder helps give the cake it’s airy texture.
  • Salt – Brings out the flavor of the other ingredients.
  • Eggs – The egg yolks add richness, and the egg whites are used to make a meringue. As mentioned, the meringue is what gives the cake its airy, bouncy texture.
  • Coconut milk – Adds flavor, moisture, and brings out the pandan flavor even more.
  • Vegetable oil – Oil makes the cake moist. Vegetable oil can be substituted with other neutral oils such as grapeseed oil.
  • Vanilla extract – Adds flavor to the cake. Substitute with 1 vanilla bean or an equal amount of vanilla paste.
  • Pandan extract – The pandan extract gives the cake its green color and pandan flavor. Feel free to add more if you want more pandan flavor.
  • Cream of tartar – Cream of tartar provides stability to the meringue. It essentially helps to prevent it from deflating.

Tools you will need

Other than the typical mixing bowls and whisks, below are the tools I recommend that really make a difference in how your cake turns out.

  1. Angel food cake pan – I would highly recommend buying an angel cake pan. Chiffon cakes have the best texture when made with this type of pan. I used a 9 inch cake pan.
  2. Blender – If you are thinking of using fresh pandan leaves, I would highly recommend a blender to create your pandan juice.
  3. Stand mixer – You can use either a stand mixer or hand mixer to make your meringue.
  4. Spatula – Highly highly recommend a spatula for folding your meringue. Do no use a whisk for this. That will deflate your meringue.

How to make a pandan chiffon cake

Make the pandan juice

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (163 degrees C). Move the oven rack to the bottom third of the oven. Combine 15 pandan leaves and 3/4 cup of water in a blender. Blend until the pandan leaves have completely broken down (~2 minutes on the highest setting). It helps to cut the leaves into smaller pieces before blending. Set aside.

Make the cake batter

Sift 2 cups of cake flour, 1 cup of granulated sugar, 1 tbsp of baking powder, and 1/2 tsp of salt into a medium bowl. Set aside. Separate 7 egg yolks from the egg whites. Add the egg yolks to a very large bowl and the egg whites to the bowl of a stand mixer.

Strain the pandan juice from step 2 into a very large bowl. Press the broken down leaves into a fine mesh sieve to wring out as much pandan juice as possible. Follow the pandan juice with 3/4 cup of coconut milk, 1/2 cup of vegetable oil, 1 tsp of vanilla extract, and 1/2 tsp of pandan extract. Whisk until well combined. Pour the dry ingredients from into the large bowl with the wet ingredients. Mix until a thick batter forms. Be careful not to over mix.

Now it’s time to make your meringue! Add 1/2 tsp of cream of tartar to the bowl of the stand mixer. Whisk the egg whites on medium high (~speed 6) until stiff peaks (~4-5 minutes). Add 1/3 of of the meringue to the pandan batter. Mix until well combined. Add the rest of the meringue to the bowl and gently fold the meringue into the batter. Be careful not to deflate the batter too much.

Bake and cool the cake

Pour the batter into a 9 inch ungreased angel food cake pan. Bake for 1 hour until a toothpick comes out clean and the cake bounces back at you. Once the cake comes out of the oven immediately turn the cake pan upside down to cool. Cool for 1-2 hours before serving. The spikes on the angel food pan will help the cake cool without deflating it.

To release the cake from the cake pan, use a knife to cut around the edges of the cake to release the center part of the cake pan. Once released, run your knife on the bottom edge of the cake and around the center tube to release it from the center insert. Place a plate on top and invert the cake to fully release.

A piece of pandan chiffon cake on a white plate.

Tips on how to make the perfect pandan chiffon cake

Cut pandan leaves for easy blending

The pandan leaves break down so much easier if you have pre-cut the pandan leaves into 1-2 inch pieces.

How do you know you’ve whipped your meringue enough?

There are 2 things I look for when trying to determine if my meringue has mixed enough.

  1. When I lift the whisk out of the meringue, there is a stiff peak, meaning it stands up straight and doesn’t flop over.
  2. I take the bowl and invert it to see if the meringue slides out. If it doesn’t slide out, the meringue has been whipped enough.

Let the cake fully cool before serving

The cake will release easier from the cake pan once it has fully cooled. I removed one of my test cakes from the cake pan too early and the brown crust ripped a bit.

How do you store a pandan chiffon cake?

Pandan chiffon cake should be covered and stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days at room temperature.

Pandan chiffon cake on a white marble cake pan.

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If you made this dish, I would love to see!

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Pandan chiffon cake on a white marble cake pan.

Get the Recipe:
Fluffy Pandan Chiffon Cake (made with pandan leaves)

This tasty and fluffy pandan chiffon cake is made with both pandan extract and fresh pandan leaves, giving it the fullest pandan flavor.
5 from 3 ratings

Ingredients
 
 

Pandan Juice

Pandan Chiffon Cake

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (163 degrees C). Move the oven rack to the bottom third of the oven.
  • Combine 15 pandan leaves and ¾ cup of water in a blender. Blend until the pandan leaves have completely broken down (~2 minutes on the highest setting). It helps to cut the leaves into smaller pieces before blending. Set aside.
  • Sift 2 cups of cake flour, 1 cup of granulated sugar, 1 tbsp of baking powder, and ½ tsp of salt into a medium bowl. Set aside.
  • Separate 7 egg yolks from the egg whites. Add the egg yolks to a very large bowl and the egg whites to the bowl of a stand mixer.
  • Strain the pandan juice from step 2 into a very large bowl. Press the broken down leaves into a fine mesh sieve to wring out as much pandan juice as possible. Next, add ¾ cup of coconut milk, ½ cup of vegetable oil, 1 tsp of vanilla extract, and ½ tsp of pandan extract to the large bowl. Whisk until well combined.
  • Pour the dry ingredients from step 3 into the large bowl with the wet ingredients. Mix until a thick batter forms. Be careful not to over mix.
  • Now it's time to make your meringue! Add ½ tsp of cream of tartar to the bowl of the stand mixer. Whisk the egg whites on medium high (~speed 6) until stiff peaks (~4-5 minutes).
  • Add ⅓ of of the meringue to the pandan batter. Mix until well combined.
  • Add the rest of the meringue to the bowl and gently fold the meringue into the batter. Be careful not to deflate the batter too much.
  • Pour the batter into a 9 inch ungreased angel food cake pan. Bake for 1 hour until a toothpick comes out clean and the cake bounces back at you.
  • Once the cake comes out of the oven immediately turn the cake pan upside down to cool. Cool for 1-2 hours before serving. The cake should be compeltely cool before you try removing it. The spikes on the angel food pan will help the cake cool without deflating it.
  • To release the cake from the cake pan, use a knife to cut around the edges of the cake to release the center part of the cake pan. Once released, run your knife on the bottom edge of the cake and around the center tube to release it from the center insert. Place a plate on top and invert the cake to fully release.

Notes

If you don’t want to use pandan leaves, increase pandan extract to 1 tsp and reduce flour to 1 3/4 cup.
Serving: 1cake piece, Calories: 310kcal, Carbohydrates: 49g, Protein: 9g, Fat: 9g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2g, Trans Fat: 0.01g, Cholesterol: 143mg, Sodium: 364mg, Potassium: 164mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 25g, Vitamin A: 209IU, Vitamin C: 0.3mg, Calcium: 124mg, Iron: 2mg
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