Wednesday 21 October 2015

“寿” Pandan Chiffon Cake with Gula Melaka Swiss Meringue Buttercream (macaron shell decorations)

This is one of those cakes that taste better than it looks :p. I made this 6" Pandan chiffon cake with Gula Melaka swiss meringue buttercream together with the large order of 40 longevity peach cupcakes :). All decorations are macaron shells except the leaves.

The lady who ordered this for her 90-year-old grandmother loved the design of a longevity peach themed cake I made last year and would like something similar. So this cake was modelled after my old one.

Since I had some leftover cake and a bit of cream, I made one small layered cake to eat at home and take a sample cross-section of the cake too!

It's the first time I am decorating a cake with macarons because this order came at a really busy time, coinciding with photoshoot sessions for the chiffon cake book I am co-authoring with Susanne. With such a large quantity of longevity peaches to make as well, I decided to stick with simple decorations that can be made way ahead of time. Macaron shells freeze very well so it's the perfect choice :).

Macaron decorations
You may refer to this post for the macaron shell recipe for white and brown shells. I made these together with Brown and Cony macarons and froze them. Just to share some photos of the process...

Freshly piped macaron shells!

I dissolved some pink gel colouring in a little Vodka (Yay! Finally got some! Free too from a goodie bag :)) to make pink paint. I brushed on the pink flower patterns and pink shades on the peaches. I prepared some stiff green royal icing by adding some icing sugar to my stock of flooding consistency royal icing until I get the right piping consistency. I piped on the leaves using a piping bag with a corner snipped off.

Painting in pink and icing with green royal icing

Pandan chiffon cake

Begin by preparing Pandan juice. I don't measure exact amounts. Just roughly pick our about 20-30 Pandan leaves and blend with 100ml of water. I used more leaves this time as most are young and small. Strain out the juice and squeeze out any juice left in the pulp through a coffee filter. Let the juice collected sit in the fridge to settle for a few days. Use only the dark green layer that has settled at the bottom of the bowl.

Freshly made Pandan juice

Separating the clear liquid layer from the dark green layer.

Ingredients (makes four 6" round thin layer cakes^):
3 egg yolks
10g caster sugar
35g canola/vegetable oil
19g Pandan juice
32g coconut milk
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp Pandan paste
1/4 tsp coconut flavouring (optional)
58g cake flour
1/8 tsp salt

4 egg whites
40g caster sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

^ I actually baked more layers than needed just in case. I also didn't have more than one 6" round pan so I baked big layer cakes and used the 6" round pan to cut out circles. Edges are not neat but it's not an issue since the cake is going to be covered in cream. You could also bake a tall 6" cake and slice it across. Increase the baking time if you are doing it this way.

1. Preheat oven to 160°C. Place a baking tray of water at the bottom of oven to create steam (optional). Set oven rack to second lowest position. Line baking pans/trays with baking paper.

2. Whisk egg yolks and sugar until pale and thick. Add oil and whisk until well combined. Add coconut milk, Pandan juice and all the flavourings. Whisk until well combined. Gradually sift in flour and salt, whisking until no trace of flour is seen.

3.  Prepare the meringue. Beat egg whites with cream of tartar in a clean metal bowl with electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.

4. Quickly but gently fold in the meringue into egg yolk batter in three batches. Scoop the batter into the prepared trays. Tap the trays on the table a few times to release trapped air bubbles.

5. Bake for 12 minutes or until skewer comes out clean. Note that baking time may vary as each oven is different. Immediately remove from tray and peel off baking paper.

6. Cool the cakes before assembly or storage in the freezer. If you are freezing the layer cakes, place baking paper between layers and double cling-wrap the cakes, minimizing air space. Place the wrapped cakes in ziplock bags to ensure a really airtight storage. Improperly stored cakes in the freezer will result in dry cakes.

5 layers here but I only used 4 as I was afraid that there was not enough cream.

Gula Melaka Swiss Meringue Buttercream (smbc) (recipe adapted from here and here*)
64g Gula Melaka, crushed
2 Pandan leaves, cut to 5cm strips
24g water
2 large egg whites (about 80g)
24g brown sugar
1/8 tsp salt
80-100g unsalted butter, softened and cut to tablespoon sized cubes
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
1/4 tsp coconut flavouring (optional)

*I took the best of both recipes, replacing all white sugar with less brown sugar but increasing amount of Gula Melaka from one recipe, and including Pandan leaves in making the Gula Melaka syrup and some vanilla bean paste from another recipe. What you get is something that is not overly sweet but so full of flavour! I took the liberty of adding an extra hint of coconut flavour to up the notch in pleasuring your senses ;).

1. Dissolve Gula Melaka in water with Pandan leaves over low heat in a small saucepan. Set aside to cool.
2. Place egg whites, brown sugar and salt in a heatproof metal bowl over a saucepan with 1" of water. Make sure bottom of bowl doesn't touch the water. Heat the saucepan with medium-low heat such that the water is gently simmering. Use a hand whisk to whisk the egg whites until temperature reaches 71.1°C (measure with candy thermometer) or until the mixture is warm and sugar is dissolved. Rub the egg whites between your fingers to see if it has dissolved.
3. Remove from heat and use electric mixer to beat on medium high speed until stiff peaks form and cooled. About 6-10 minutes.

4. Add butter one cube at a time and keep beating. Don't worry if it starts to curdle. Just keep beating and adding the butter and it will all come together in the end.

5. Add vanilla bean paste, coconut flavouring and Gula Melaka syrup 1 teaspoon at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat until light and fluffy. You may use it immediately or freeze/refrigerate until time to frost the cake. Just bring to room temperature and rewhip until fluffy before frosting the cake.

Yums!!! So yummy I ended up licking the spatula and bowl :p. After storing the smbc of course.


1. Place a layer of Pandan cake on cakeboard placed on turntable. Brush with some syrup (5g white sugar dissolved in 20ml hot water. I used a bit of Pandan water to impart some Pandan flavour.). Spread a thin layer of gula melaka smbc with a spatula.

2. Repeat step 1 for three more layers of cake. Cover the top and sides with smbc. Use a large offset spatula to smooth out the top as you rotate the turntable. Use a bench scraper to smooth out the sides.

Pardon the not-so-good frosting with smbc as it's been a long time since I last frosted a cream cake :p. Thank God smbc is so much easier to work with than dairy cream!

3. Place macaron shell decorations on top. Those of you who are expert at piping buttercream decorations would prefer to do that :). I prefer to just slap on the deco when I am hard pressed for time, and focus on the sponge cake and cream. Upsize the gula melaka smbc ingredients if you would like to pipe buttercream decorations as the portion here is just about enough to frost the cake.

Thank God that the cake was well received! My hubby who doesn't like cakes in general said this is yummy and not too sweet!

This post is linked to the event Little Thumbs Up ~ October 2015
Event Theme : Coconut
and hosted by Jess of Bakericious

With love,
Phay Shing


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you :) thanks for hosting this month's LTU!

  2. This birthday cake is so elegant and pretty!

  3. This is exactly what I'm contemplating for my son's first birthday - smbc on chiffon. I just ain't sure if chiffon is sturdy enough to take the weight of smbc. Somehow my chiffon always seem a little deflated after I ice it with whipped diary cream. Anyways, glad to know it works. Excited to try it out!

    1. The chiffon sponge may seem a little compressed with the added frosting but the texture will still be soft so not to worry :)

  4. Hi! Can I freeze this SMBC and for how long? Does this SMBC hold the shape if I want to use to pipe? Thanks!

    1. Hi Margaret,
      Yes you may freeze in freezer safe ziplock bags. Make sure you defrost completely in the mixing bowl and rewhip with electric mixer (or by hand if you want a workout) before piping. Smbc is excellent in holding it's shape in hot and humid Singapore but I would recommend not adding too much liquid to it if you want a firmer smbc

    2. You may freeze up to a couple of months

  5. Hi, may I know is it safe to consume if I didn’t heat egg whites to 71.1C but it was warm n sugar dissolved? First 2 attempts were failure due to egg whites cooked at 58C.. I keep stirring it but not sure why become cooked. Water was not boiling but shimmer only.. So third attempt I only make sure the sugar is dissolved but not sure is safe to consume. Please help :( also the gula melaka didn’t fully mix with buttercream.. separated a little .. had beaten 10 mins.... hope to hear from u soon.. thanks

    1. I am not sure why it didn't work for you too 😅. Need to ask a couple of questions.
      1. Did you use an analog or digital thermometer to measure the egg white temperature? Analog thermometers usually have a much longer lag time and actual temperature could be higher than what it's reading.
      2. Did you whisk the egg whites until foamy and not gently stir? Some people don't want to workout so much so they use electric mixer at low speed to beat the egg whites while double boiling it.

      Heating until sugar is dissolved is what some people do so I think it's safe for consumption. But I am not sure how stable the buttercream is if the egg whites are cooked at a lower temperature.

      Always add liquid a little bit at a time to the buttercream to prevent separation. After storage in the freezer and defrosting, the smbc may appear to separate halfway through rewhipping. Don't have to panic. Just continue beating with electric mixer and it will all come together nicely

      I hope this helps

    2. Thanks for your reply.

      1. I was using infrared thermometer.
      2. I keep whisking it non stop while double boiling it. At first it became foamy but after awhile it became cooked egg white and eggy smell -.-


    3. I did try to pipe on cupcakes. It was quite stable. I just worried its unsafe for consumption as I just heated until sugars are melted and not 71.1C.

    4. Did you try measuring the temperature once sugar is melted? (I am just curious) Also (out of my curiosity) did you check if your thermometer reads 100℃ for boiling water? I am not sure why your egg whites suddenly cook 😂 because it never happened to me. But there's an eggy smell yes. Not to worry about the smell as it's not noticeable after you add the butter and flavourings.

    5. Yes I did measured and it was around 58C. Ya I should check my thermometer for boiling water. Will give a try again and keep you updated. thanks.


  6. I'm so amazing at what I saw on your blog,was searching for a nice site where I can get pandan Chiffon Cake for my cousin's birthday. Your pandan Chiffon Cake looks attractive and adorable .
    I will like to you to bake a cake for my cousin's birthday that is coming up next month

    1. Thank you 😊. You may email your request to us to let us know what exactly you would like for the cake. Email can be found from the About Us section of the blog