Saturday, 15 August 2020

Vegan Pandan Kaya Gula Melaka Cakelets

My friend requested for a vegan cake for her daughter's birthday. I gave some thought to select a flavour that is still yummy despite not using eggs or dairy. It is quite a new challenge for me as my favourite type of cake is leavened by meringues in the form of chiffon cakes. I decided to experiment and take the plunge, even though I was skeptical about the taste and texture of any sponge not leavened by meringues or loaded with butter or eggs. There was a happy accident along the way which I will elaborate later, and the resulting cake tastes beyond my expectations! Full of flavour and wonderful aroma, this is my bite sized version of a vegan pandan kaya cake that uses gula melaka as part of the sugar! 

And what was the happy accident? The sponge layers as you can see, is totally brown. When I prepared the batter, it was in a lovely shade of jade green from homemade pandan juice. The oven temperature went wonky a few minutes into baking and went into a high overshoot, toasting the coconut milk in the batter in the process although I did manage to bring down the temperature after about 13-15min into baking time. As the cake is a thin sheet cake, the cake became brown throughout. Is it dry you may ask. The cake is surprisingly moist and soft although it doesn't have the spongey nature of chiffons. The texture is more like a soft and moist muffin. I chose an easy reference recipe that involves mixing wet and dry ingredients, much like making a simple muffin. 

The pandan gula melaka pudding is more or less a variation of the same default recipe I use for my regular pandan kaya cake, which is vegan anyway. But I will share it here in detail for your convenience. 

Recipe for vegan pandan gula melaka sponge


110g cake flour (plain flour in original recipe) 

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/8 tsp salt (1/4 tsp in original) 

40g caster sugar (75g in original) 

25g gula melaka, chopped (not in original) 

70g coconut milk 

50g pandan juice (blend as many pandan leaves as you want in some water and strain out the juice) 

1/2 tbs apple cider vinegar 

45g vegetable oil

1/2tsp vanilla extract


1. Preheat oven to 160C (180C in original recipe) and line an 8x8" square tray with parchment. 

2. Melt gula melaka in coconut milk, set aside to cool. 

3. Sift flour, baking soda, white sugar and salt into mixing bowl. Whisk until combined. 

4. Add vinegar into coconut milk, set aside for 5 min. Add oil, pandan juice, vanilla and mix well. 

5. Pour wet into dry ingredients. Whisk until just combined. 

6. Pour into prepared baking tray and bake until golden brown. 

Now here is the thing. I didn't follow the baking temperature and time of the original recipe, which was 180C for 30 min. This step would vary from oven to oven as each oven behaves differently. I was baking pandan gula melaka chiffon sponge just before baking this so I had a tray of water at the base of the oven so mine is a steam bake instead of the original dry bake. I preheated to 180C on the temperature dial but actual temperature was about 150-160C for the first 5 min. Nothing appeared to be happening so I turned up the temperature dial by a little (my oven is an analog one) at the 5 min mark and went away for 5 min to have a quick bite. When I came back, the oven thermometer read 190C! I quickly turned the dial down and opened the oven door a little for a few seconds. It took a few minutes for the temperature to drop to 160-170C. I continued baking until total bake time was 25min instead of the suggested 30min because by then, the crust looked really browned. If you aren't sure what time and temperature profile to use, I would suggest following the original reference recipe but do keep an eye on your oven and how browned your cake appears. Even if the coconut milk didn't get toasted in the process, the cake will still be yummy! Just less aromatic. 

As you can see in the picture below, the batter is green but the sponge is browned throughout! But the aroma is really intense from the toasting of the coconut milk and sugars! 

Cut the sponge into squares or use round cookie cutters to cut out rounds, depending on how you want to assemble. A simple way is to use cupcake cases. I decided to do a fancier one using my silicone mould. 

Recipe for pandan gula melaka pudding



240g coconut milk

120g pandan water (boil some pandan leaves in water) 

30g gula melaka, chopped 

30g caster sugar (may replace with gula melaka if you wish) 

1/4 tsp vanilla extract 

1/8 tsp pandan paste 

1/8 tsp salt

1/4 tsp liquid green food colouring 

1/8 tsp caramel essence (optional) 

1 tsp agar powder


26g cornflour 

130g pandan water

Steps :

1. Combine ingredients in B) in a jug and stir until cornflour is suspended in water. Set aside. 

2. Place all ingredients in A) in a saucepan and bring to a boil while stirring all the time. Keep stirring for another 1 min once the mixture is boiling. This is to ensure agar is totally dissolved. 

3. Bring heat to medium low. Stir B) again and pour in a continuous slow stream into the saucepan while stirring the saucepan continously. 

4. Keep stirring and bring the mixture to a boil using medium low heat. Continue stirring and boiling for a minute. 

5. Sieve the mixture to remove any large gula melaka bits or undissolved agar. The pudding is now ready to assemble with the sponge. Stir the pudding in the bowl now and then to prevent it from setting in the bowl. 


There isn't  a fixed way to do this. Simply alternate layers of sponge and pudding and then refrigerate for a few hours. If you assembled in cupcake cases, you can leave it as it is. If you used moulds, you can carefully unmould at this point. I rolled the unmoulded cakelets in dessicated coconut for that extra texture when you bite into it.

The fancy silicone truncated cone mould is rather small so I used the smallest round cookie cutter I have to cut out the sponge. And this wasn't enough so I had to halve each round cutout horizontally so the sponge layer isn't too thick so it looks proportionate in the tiny mould. Needless to say, it was a challenge to work neatly and quickly 🤣

Messy assembly! 

My kids did a taste test and gave thumbs up for it! You don't miss the egg at all because it is so full of flavour and aroma! If you want an easy vegan cake that is yummy as well, give this a try! No electric mixer required! 

With love, 

Phay Shing

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