This cake is like a fusion of Pandan Chiffon Cake and Cotton Soft Sponge Cake but with water bath added during baking. Water bath adds moisture to the cake, which literally jiggles after it comes right out of the oven. Without the water bath, the cake is soft and fluffy but yet firm enough to withstand weight. In fact, this is what I like to use to construct my tall cakes (read about my blog post, Semi-Naked Drip Cake with Fresh Fruits and Whipped Cream for more details).
A note about this cake is the oven temperature and baking time. The baking instructions provided below is written with reference to my own oven only. Just like how I always emphasize in the directions, every oven is different. So practice, practice, practice. Find the correct baking temperature and rack position such that your cake would rise gradually in the oven without cracking. As per time, I prefer to bake it longer so that the cake is moist but not overly damp and soggy especially near the bottom. And of course you could choose to devour the hot, steaming cake immediately after it comes out from the oven. That tastes a little bit bland to me though. I like the flavor more after the cake has been rest for at least half a day, and the cake tastes great whether it is chilled or at room temperature.
Pandan Cotton Cake
For 8”x3” square cake pan
10 pandan leaves, fresh or frozen
90 g milk
115 g cake and pastry flour
1/8 tsp salt
75 g grapeseed oil
7 large egg yolks
3/4 tsp pandan essence
7 large egg whites
3/4 tsp white vinegar or lemon juice (I use Korean apple vinegar)
115 g granulated sugar (I use organic cane sugar)
Note: the eggs I use are about 50 g each without shells
Rinse pandan leaves then cut off the bottom white parts. Cut leaves into small pieces with a pair of scissors. Add leaves and milk into a blender then pulse for one minute. Strain mixture through a fine strainer while using the back of a spoon to press on the pulp to extract the juice. Measure 90 g of the pandan-milk mixture, topping up with more milk if needed. Set aside.
Combine and sift together flour and salt. Set aside. Line cake pan with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 325ºF/160ºC.
Heat oil in a saucepan over low heat until ripples could be seen on the bottom (the best temperature is around 140-150ºF/60-65ºC). Add flour mixture and whisk until smooth. Stir in pandan milk in three batches (the mixture will look ragged but it’s okay). Whisk in egg yolks in three batches, stirring well after each addition. Stir in pandan essence. Mixture will be glossy and smooth.
In a clean mixing bowl, beat egg whites and vinegar with the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or an electric mixer until very foamy. Add sugar in batches and continue beating until firm peak forms. When you lift up the whisk, the meringue will stand up with a large curvy tip. Add one third of the meringue to the yolk batter and fold to lighten. Add remaining meringue in two batches. Fold gently and thoroughly with a spatula until homogeneous. Pour batten into pan and smooth top with a spatula. Tap pan against the tabletop several times to get rid of any large air bubbles.
Place cake pan into another bigger tray or roasting pan and fill the outer pan with water. Bake at 300℉/150℃ for 10 minutes. Drop to 250ºF/120ºC and bake for 60 to 70 minutes, filling the tray with more water if needed. If the cake needs more browning, raise temperature to 300ºF/150ºC during the last 5 to 10 minutes.
Switch off the oven and leave door ajar. Let the cake cool in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove cake from the pan and release the parchment paper from the sides. Let cool on a cooling rack and trim off the edges for a neater presentation. For best flavor, let cake rest overnight before serving.
In this trial I attempted to bake my cake at 275ºF/135ºC but it started to crack mid-way.
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