Two recipes today, one very asian and one very american. Let's start with the one that I preferred, the pandan chiffon cake. I was really agonising over this one because it's not easy to get the right chiffon cake texture - really light and soft and fluffy. AND I DID IT. But god is fair, so the pandan taste and colour didn't come out very strongly. However, it was still lovely to eat and so satisfying to have achieved the right texture on the first try.

Recipe is from Almost Bourdain and makes about 16 servings [from a normal-sized bundt cake pan.]

2 1/4 cups cake flour (not self-raising)
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
5 large egg yolks
1 tbsp pandan essence
1 tsp pandan paste*** [see below]
7 large egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 325F. In large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and 1 cup granulated sugar. Make a well in center and add oil, egg yolks, pandan essence, pandan paste, and 3/4 cup cold water; whisk into flour mixture until smooth.

In another large bowl, with mixer at high speed, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Beating at high speed, gradually sprinkle in remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 2 tbsp at a time, beating well after each addition, until whites stand in stiff peaks when beaters are lifted.

With rubber spatula, gently fold one-third of whites into yolk mixture; fold in remaining whites. Pour batter into ungreased 9- to 10-inch tube pan.

Bake 1 1/4 hours, or until top springs back when lightly touched. Invert cake in pan on funnel or bottle; cool completely in pan. Carefully run metal spatula around side of pan to loosen cake; remove from pan and place on cake plate.


Forgive the bad pictures, but I was doing nocturnal baking:

pandancake3


So gigantic when it came out of the oven! But so perfectly rounded. Such things make me happy.

pandancake2


I was so, so scared it would break when I tried to un-pan it. Take the recipe's advice and run a spatula or knife around the edges, it really helps.

pandancake1


This picture really doesn't do it justice, and I just had to choose a slice with a hole to photograph. The rest of it was really even and fine. Beautiful. I quite liked the subtle pandan flavour, actually.

***IMPORTANT: What is pandan paste? You can buy it outside but according to the reviews of store-bought paste I've read it apparently gives a very artificial colour and is really just full of chemicals. You can learn how to make your own here. It takes a few days but is healthier and more natural.

Rating: 4/5 for lack of intensity of taste and flavour.

Now on to the american-style recipe. Be warned - this is very emphatically not for those who don't like sweet things. This is a Martha Stewart recipe, so it's quite foolproof. And sweet. I halved the recipe to give 6 (very sweet) cupcakes.

3 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup coconut milk
8 large egg whites
1 1/4 cups shredded sweetened coconut
Fresh Roasted Coconut, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two standard 12-cup muffin pans with paper liners; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and 2 cups sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour; beat until just combined. Transfer mixture to a large bowl; set aside.

In the clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites on low speed until foamy. With mixer running, gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar; beat on high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 4 minutes. Do not overbeat. Gently fold a third of the egg-white mixture into the butter-flour mixture until combined. Gently fold in remaining egg-white mixture; stir in shredded coconut.

Divide batter evenly among the muffin cups, filling each with a heaping 1/4 cup batter. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until the cupcakes are golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer pans to a wire rack. Invert cupcakes onto rack; then reinvert and let cool completely, top sides up. Frost cupcakes with seven-minute frosting, swirling to cover. Garnish with fresh coconut just before serving.


coconutcupcake


I had the bright idea to mix in grated coconut with the frosting, with the sad result that it looked like scrambled eggs. Why didn't I think of putting the coconut on top of the frosting? Oh well. It tastes rather milky, but I like the little pieces of coconut you get in the cake. Did I mention it was very sweet?

Rating: 2/5 BECAUSE IT IS TOO DAMN SWEET. Take away a quarter of the sugar and this'll be really nice.
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