19 Jun 2013


It was my mum's birthday a few days ago and unlike previous years, I decided to pay homage to her roots this year. 

The idea of the cake originated from the nostalgic value of the good ol' pandan chiffon cake or what my friends used to refer it to as the "fluffy green cake with the hole in the middle". I don't have a chiffon tin, so I decided to combine a pandan sponge with: gula melaka, kaya and coconut - flavours my mum grew up with, which was introduced to me early in life.

For the sponge cake, I took a risk and used a different  recipe. I adapted it from a recipe I saw on Good Food and fortunately for me, it turned out quite fluffy. A +1 from my mum!

The recipe is long but I think it's worth it, especially the gula melaka cream! Come to think of it, I would prefer gula melaka over maple syrup any day. Coconut pancakes/waffles with gula melaka syrup anyone?

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Pandan sponge cake with gula melaka cream & kaya     serves 8

Pandan sponge cake     makes 1 x 20cm round cake
Adapted from Neil Perry’s simple coffee & cream sponge cake

By the way, I found this pictorial guide on sponge cake egg beating that might be helpful for first time sponge cake bakers determine what "soft/stiff peaks" or "ribbon stage" means. Good luck!

95g self-raising flour
25g cornflour
4 large eggs (I used eggs straight from the fridge)
15g caster sugar for the egg whites + 100g caster sugar for the egg yolks
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
A pinch of sea salt
1 tsp pandan paste (koepoe koepoe brand)

Grease and line a 20cm round baking tin with baking paper. Preheat oven to 200C. 

Sift flour and cornflour together four times and set aside. Separate all the eggs. 

Add a pinch of sea salt into the egg whites and whisk eggs until they reach soft peaks. Sift in the cream of tartar and whisk egg whites, gradually adding 15g of caster sugar until mixture becomes glossy and reaches stiff peak stage. When bowl is turned upside down, the egg whites should not slide and fall out. 

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks with 100g caster sugar and pandan paste until mixture is thick and fluffy. Mixture should be pale green, thickened and reached ‘ribbon stage’ – when the whisk / beater is lifted and moved, the mixture should be able to form a ‘ribbon’ that will stay on the surface for a few seconds. 

Fold one-third of the egg whites into the yolk mixture to lighten. Sift the flour and cornflour over the top and spread the remaining egg whites over the top. Fold gently to combine. 

Transfer mixture into the baking tin and smooth the top with the back of a spoon. Place the tin into the oven and reduce temperature to 170C. Bake for approximately 25 – 30 minutes or until skewer comes out clean when inserted in the centre. 

Allow sponge to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

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Gula melaka cream     makes approximately 700ml

80g good-quality gula melaka* (palm sugar)
50ml water
600ml thickened cream

Chop or grate gula melaka into small pieces (I was able to ‘shave’ it with a knife, so the texture resembled brown sugar). Transfer to a small saucepan with the water and dissolve over low heat to make a thick syrup, adding more water if necessary to dissolve the sugar. Allow to cool completely. If sugar slightly hardens whilst cooling, give it a good stir to turn it back into a syrup. 

Whip cream until it has reached soft peaks stage. Add the gula melaka syrup and whip cream until sugar is combined thoroughly and has reached stiff peaks stage. Be careful not to over whip the cream. 

If you like, transfer two-thirds of the cream into a piping bag with a star tip.

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To assemble

1 x 20cm pandan sponge cake
Sugar syrup*, as required
Kaya (coconut jam; we like Glory brand), as required
700ml gula melaka cream
Toasted shredded coconut, as required

After slicing away the top browned part of the sponge cake, divide and cut sponge into 3 equal slices. 

Place the bottom slice onto a cake board and brush the top with sugar syrup. Spread a thin layer of kaya over the sponge and then pipe or spread one-third of the gula melaka cream on top, leaving a 0.5 – 1 cm border around the edges. 

Place the middle slice of the sponge on top of the cream and repeat the above step twice. Sprinkle the top layer with some toasted shredded coconut. Place into a suitable container and chill before serving. 

*Equal portions of sugar and water dissolved over heat.