Friday, April 11, 2014

Pandan Chiffon Cupcakes

Yay, my oven has finally "fully recovered"! Just can't wait to put it into use after taking 1-1/2 weeks' break. The oven feels like new after it has been replaced with a computer board and a new bulb. For its first mission, I have decided to experiment my pandan chiffon cake recipe, baking them in cupcake size instead of using the traditional chiffon cake pan (simply because I don't have one). I have been in search for the "best" pandan chiffon cake recipe because my husband is a lover of the pandan chiffon cake from the famous bakery in Singapore.

Although there are many pandan chiffon cake recipes available online, I haven't found one to my comfort because most of the recipes bake using the traditional whole cake pan and most importantly, almost all recipes call for fresh pandan leaves and freshly squeezed coconut milk. Nope, you have not heard me wrongly. As ridiculous as it is, I am trying to make a pandan chiffon cake without using pandan leaves and
Pandan Chiffon Cupcakes
using canned coconut milk (or cream) as substitute. This is simply because these two key fresh ingredients are just no where to be found in this small city in the west of Florida. Then, how is it even possible to make a pandan chiffon cake as the name suggests? Thankfully, Man made pandan essence. Though the substitutions are not as fragrant as compared to freshly extracted pandan juice and coconut milk, it is consoling enough to be able to use a similar substitute to mimic its taste. With that, I was possible to work on experimenting my soft and fluffy pandan chiffon cupcakes. This is not my first attempt in making pandan chiffon cupcakes. In the past, I would half the ingredients for a whole cake recipe and the batter amount were usually slightly too much for a standard 12-cup muffin pan. With that, I had to bake a second batch of only three to four cupcakes which often turned out denser, possibly because the batter had been left to sit for as long as the first batch was baking. After my trials and errors, I am quite satisfied with my own version of pandan chiffon cupcakes. Though not as fragrant as it would have been had fresh ingredients been used, the chiffon cupcake texture was soft and fluffy. They were tasty enough to satisfy one's craving for pandan chiffon cake while being away from home!

Pandan Chiffon Cupcakes
The Dream Bakers' Creation
Makes 12

Ingredients Required 

Group A
2 egg yolks
30 grams granulated sugar
25 ml canola oil
70 grams cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
65 ml coconut cream
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pandan essence

Group B
3 egg whites
35 grams granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Pandan Chiffon Cupcakes

Bakeware Used

One standard 12-cup muffin pan

Preparation Steps
  1. Preheat oven at 350 degrees F.
  2. Line cupcake pan with paper liners and set aside.
  3. Combine and sift cake flour, baking powder and salt together and set aside.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, cream egg yolks and sugar using an electric mixer until mixture becomes thick and pale yellow in colour.
  5. Add canola oil, coconut cream, vanilla extract and Pandan essence and mix until well combined.
  6. Fold flour mixture into yolk mixture until incorporated. Beat using an electric mixer for about 30 seconds until batter is smooth and no lumps of flour. Set aside.
  7. In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk egg whites using an electric mixer (with clean whisk attachments) until frothy. Add cream of tartar and continue whisking until egg white becomes foamy.
  8. Gradually add sugar and continue whisking until egg whites reaches stiff peaks stage. Do not overbeat.
  9. Add one-third of egg white meringue to yolk batter. Fold to combine. Repeat two more times until all meringue and yolk batter are well combined. Bang bowl with the combined batter against the table top 2-3 times to release large air bubbles.
  10. Scoop batter into cupcake pan lined with paper liners and bake at preheated oven on the middle to lower rack of the oven for 15 to 17 minutes (varies across different ovens), or until toothpick comes out almost clean with very slight crumbs. Do not over-bake.
  11. Transfer cupcakes to wire rack to cool completely.

The Dream Baker's Experiment
  1. I used large-sized eggs with each weighing 60 grams (with shell). 
  2. The canned coconut cream I used contains a ratio of 70% coconut and 30% water content (refer to ingredients label on can). As suggested by many online sources, coconut cream may be substituted with coconut milk (preferably of better quality) and vice versa. I have tried using coconut milk and although the cake texture was quite similar, it was significantly less fragrant and rich-tasting. Hence, I preferred coconut cream over coconut milk if using canned ones for a stronger taste.
  3. The batter were distributed evenly using a 1/4-cup measuring scoop which filled each cupcake with batter of about 80% full.
  4. I placed the muffin pan on the bottom rack of the oven during baking. This prevents the surface of the cupcakes from browning too quickly before the cupcakes are baked through.
  5. I checked the cupcakes at the end of the 15th minute by inserting a toothpick. Although the toothpick came out almost clean with very slight crumbs (which indicates the cupcakes are baked), the surface of the cake was not quite brown. Hence I baked the cupcakes for an additional one minute for the cake surface to be browned slightly (depending on individual, this step is not necessary). It is recommended to check the doneness of the cupcakes after they have been baked for more than 3/4 through the recommended baking time, and not to open the oven door to check on the cake too often thereafter as it would affect the temperature of the oven and affect the "rise" of the cupcakes.
  6. I left the cupcakes in the oven with the oven door ajar for another minute before removing pan from the oven as I find that this helps to regulate the temperature of the cupcakes and the cupcakes did not sink as much as compared to those that have been removed from the oven immediately.

And I'm so glad to (update and) share this post with the event, AlphaBakes (August 2014: Letter "P") hosted by Caroline of Caroline Makes and Ros of The More than Occasional Baker. The letter "P" is for Pandan, an aromatic tropical plant that is used widely in Southeast Asia cooking as flavouring (through the use of its leaves or extracts). Pandan is the star component (flavour) of these cupcakes that never fail to remind us of our home, our Singapore! ^_^

Happy baking!

Dare to dream.
The Dream Baker

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