Monday 24 July 2023

Less Sweet Pandan Kaya Cake

This cake was tailor-made for my friend's mum's 70th birthday. How good was it? The birthday girl who has a long history of refusing cake because she doesn't like cream, butter or anything too sweet finished the slice given to her! The rest of the cake? Everyone else finished it within minutes despite being too full after a meal. It's tasty, refreshing & not too sweet. I decorated the cake with blueberry-apple marshmallow flowers & simple cocoa gula melaka chiffon basket weave ring.

Here's the review from my friend!

Those of you not familiar with the colloquial language of Singapore, siu-dai or siew-dai means less sweet. So I had the challenge of making a cake that is really less sweet but still tasty enough for the birthday girl and everyone else at the celebration.

Not many people make pandan chiffon cake the old school way from homemade pandan juice concentrate nowadays because it's a labour of love! I use a combination of homemade concentrate & bottled pandan paste to impart flavour & colour that my recipients love so much over the years.

I adapted the recipe from this basket weave cake I made for my mum a few years ago.

Pandan Chiffon Sponge

(makes two 7.5" round sponges)


45g oil

70g pandan juice concentrate*

40g coconut milk

12g Gula Melaka, grated (coconut palm sugar)

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp pandan paste 


120g cake flour, sifted into large bowl


6 egg yolks


6 egg whites

1/2 tsp cream of tartar

72g caster sugar (use more if prefer sweeter & for more stable meringue)

Pandan Kaya pudding


720g coconut milk

300g water^

60g clear pandan water*^

45g Gula Melaka, grated (use more & add caster sugar if prefer sweeter)

3/4 tsp vanilla

3/8 tsp pandan paste

3/8 tsp caramel essence (optional)

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 tsp green liquid colouring (optional)

2 tsp agar powder


78g cornstarch

390g water^

* Blend about 25-30 mature pandan leaves with 120g of water. Strain juice & squeeze out as much liquid as you can from pulp. Let juice settle over 3 days in fridge. Separate clear water from concentrate. 

^ Traditional recipes use pandan water from water boiled with a few pandan leaves. Over here I just used what is usually discarded. It saves you the effort for one step!


1) Line pans with parchment paper or teflon sheet. Preheat oven to 140-150C (no fan) with optional steam baking. Note that baking temperature and time is oven dependent so adjust accordingly.

2) Place A) in saucepan & heat until gula melaka is dissolved & mixture is 80C.

3) Pour 2) into B) & whisk until a dough forms.

4) Add C) 2 yolks at a time. Whisk until well combined after each addition.

5) Make meringue (D). Whip egg whites with cream of tartar until firm peaks form, adding sugar gradually once egg whites are foamy. Slowly build up your meringue using medium speed to avoid creating large air bubbles and to help with stability.

6) Fold meringue into 4) in 3 batches. I like to use the whisk to fold in the first two batches and finish off using a silicone spatula.

7) Fill pans until 80% full. Bake for 40 min or until done. 

8) Cool completely & unmold. Slice each cake horizontally for 4 pieces of sponge.

9) Mix F) in jug. Set aside.

10) Put E) in pot, whisk to disperse agar & set aside for 5 min. Bring to boil while whisking continuously. Continue simmering for 1 min while whisking. 

11) Whisk F) again to disperse cornstarch before pouring in a thin stream into 10) while whisking continuously. Continue cooking pudding for another 1-2 min. Remove from heat.

12) Assemble cake by alternating sponge and pudding layers within a cake ring or acetate sheet. Stir pudding mixture in pot to prevent it from setting during assembly. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours before unmolding. Neaten the pudding layers if need be by carefully cutting stray bits off.

See my Instagram reel for snippets of the process!

Traditional pandan kaya cake is usually totally covered with the pudding and garnished with some desiccated coconut or finely grated fresh coconut. I kept the design clean and simple for this cake so I omitted the coconut and revealed the pudding and sponge layers as part of the aesthetics.

See how squishy my marshmallow flowers are in this post! I used some sugar-replacement to replace white sugar so it is overall a little more diabetic-friendly. Keep a lookout for my Deco Marshmallows book which will cover how to make marshmallow flowers made from lots of fresh fruit, as well as how to make them without white sugar too!

Do give this cake a try if you are looking for something that's tasty, refreshing and not too sweet for birthday celebrations! 

with love,

Phay Shing


  1. Hi! I want to know how can buy your Deco Marshmallows book

    1. It will be out in Singapore's bookstores in a couple of weeks time and on Amazon about 9-12 months later