• The flavour of pandan is said to be almost indescribable; grassy with nuttiness and vanilla, verging on coconut. (Ben Ward)Source: Ben Ward

Light and airy chiffon cake is the perfect vehicle for allowing the sweet herbaceous aroma and vibrant green colour of pandan to shine. Topped with coconut, a classic flavour combination for pandan, this is a wonderfully tropical dessert.






Skill level

Average: 2.9 (243 votes)


  • 2 bunches fresh pandan leaves
  • 100 g egg yolks
  • 100 g sunflower oil
  • 200 g spelt flour
  • 250 g caster sugar
  • 10 g baking powder
  • large pinch salt
  • 275 g egg whites, at room temperature
  • 2.5 g cream of tartar
  • shredded fresh coconut, to decorate

Coconut buttercream

  • 200 g full-fat coconut cream, chilled (see note)
  • 15 g cornflour
  • 250 g unsalted butter, softened
  • 300 g icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 vanilla bean, halved lengthways, seeds scraped
  • pinch of salt

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Cooling time: 2 hours

You’ll need a chiffon cake tin for this recipe, and remember not to grease the tin because the batter needs to cling to the base and sides as it cooks and cools or it will collapse.

1. Preheat the oven to 160°C.

2. Coarsely chop the pandan leaves, then place in a food processor or blender with 250 ml (1 cup) water. Process until smooth, then pour into a sieve lined with a piece of muslin. Bring up the sides of the muslin and squeeze out as much juice as possible. Discard the solids, then measure out 150 ml pandan liquid and freeze any remaining liquid for another use.

3. Place the pandan extract, egg yolks and oil in a large bowl and whisk until well combined. Sift in the flour, 200 g sugar, baking powder and salt and whisk just until smooth. Using an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form, then slowly add the remaining 50 g sugar in 2-3 additions. Keep whisking until stiff peaks form. Fold one third of the egg whites into the pandan mixture, then gently fold in the remaining egg whites. Pour into an ungreased 25 cm chiffon tin and bake for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the cake withdraws clean. Immediately invert the chiffon tin onto a tray or bottle and leave upside down to cool for a few hours or until completely cooled before turning the right way up.

4. For the coconut buttercream, place the coconut cream and cornflour in a small saucepan and whisk continuously over medium heat until the mixture comes to the boil and is thick and smooth. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool to lukewarm. Place the butter, icing sugar, vanilla bean seeds and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whisk until light and fluffy. Add the cooled coconut cream and whisk until well combined. Using a palette knife, spread the buttercream over the top and sides of the cooled cake, then gently press on the shredded coconut.


• Place your tin of coconut cream in the refrigerator the night before baking so that the coconut cream sets solid and is easy to scoop off the remaining coconut milk.


Palisa Anderson and guests explore food memories and cross-cultural connection during Palisa Anderson's Water Heart Food.