Pandan Sponge Cupcakes


I like my pandan sponge cupcakes very much. Made with pandan juice and coconut oil, the little cakes are very fragrant and the green colour is totally natural. The crumb is soft and fluffy, and it’s still moist the next day.

If you’re new to the whole egg method for making sponge cakes, please refer to my post on vanilla sponge cupcakes for tips on how to mix the batter without deflating it.

If, despite your best efforts, the batter loses a lot of air after you add flour and oil, switch to plan B. Which is? I suggest pancakes. I’ve never tried any before but I’d imagine pandan pancakes are quite nice.

The best tool for grinding pandan leaves to make pandan juice is a food processor. A mortar and pestle works well too, and it has the added bonus of helping you burn a few calories.

If you use a blender, the leaves must have some water added, which makes the juice too diluted. You have to let it settle for a few hours or overnight, then skim the excess water that floats on top.

If your pandan leaves are frozen instead of fresh, you must also let the juice settle even if it doesn’t have water added, then use just the dark green part in the bottom.

Please don’t use old, dark green leaves. Pick the ones that are soft and almost white or light green. If the leaves seem dry, soak them in water for about 30 minutes. Don’t leave them in the water too long or the juice would be diluted.

A potato ricer is the most efficient tool for pressing the pulp. A small tea strainer that has a metal mesh works well too if it’s the right size.

The colour of the eggs affects the colour of the cakes. Bright yellow yolks would mask the pandan juice’s green colour. Use eggs with pale yellow yolks, e.g. Pasar brand, if you like your cakes as green as possible.

I use old-fashioned coconut oil for my pandan sponge cupcakes. That’s the fragrant type made by simply heating coconut milk. On no account use deodourized oil, a newfangled thing that’s supposed to be a health food. Virgin coconut oil, whatever that is, is fine if it’s fragrant. If it isn’t, you might as well use vegetable oil.

My pandan sponge cupcakes are quite fussy about what they’re baked in. Hokkaido cupcake moulds give the best results. The cakes baked in these square cardboard moulds are perfectly fluffy and evenly browned. If you use other types of mould, your cupcakes may not rise or brown well.

Making good pandan sponge cupcakes is quite easy. Here’s my video to show it really is a piece of cake:

PANDAN SPONGE CUPCAKES (班兰海綿杯子蛋糕)

(Recipe for 5 big cupcakes)

6 g glucose
100 g eggs
40 g castor sugar
40 g cake flour
30 g coconut oil
10 g pandan juice
1/16 tsp salt

Measure and prep ingredients as detailed above. Preheat oven to 190°C.

Whisk glucose, eggs and sugar till ribbon stage, i.e. when whisk is lifted, “ribbon” falls from whisk smoothly and sits on top of mixture without sinking. Sift half of cake flour into egg mixture, moving sieve around bowl so that flour isn’t clumped in one area. Gently stir just top part of eggs with whisk till you don’t see any flour. Sift remaining half of flour as before. Repeat gentle mixing.

Stir pandan juice and coconut oil till well mixed. Gently drizzle mixture around bowl. Mix with whisk till you don’t see any oil, again stirring just top part of batter. Fold, using spatula, till just evenly mixed. Divide batter equally between 5 Hokkaido cupcake moulds, about 45 g each. Place cupcakes on baking tray spaced apart.

Bake cupcakes in bottom of oven till batter domes and doesn’t move when baking tray is gently shaken, about 8 minutes. Gently move tray to upper-middle shelf. Bake till golden brown and slightly springy when pressed lightly, about 5 minutes. Rotate cupcakes as necessary during baking so that batter rises and browns evenly.

Remove cupcakes to wire rack. Leave to cool down completely, or serve warm.

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