Pandan swiss roll with gula melaka chantilly cream


I don’t bake or cook with pandan leaves nearly as much as I should be doing. There’s no excuse for that; I have an overgrown pandan plant right at my doorstep.

Pandan leaves are essential to making a good pandan coconut (nasi lemak) rice that taste so incredible with chicken or beef rendang, some fried ikan bilis with peanuts and a good sambal belachan. Nasi lemak is what I miss and crave when I’m away from home.

The one thing that I use the pandan leaves exclusively for is my pandan chiffon cake recipe.  It is a perennial favourite in my family and probably the only pandan dessert that I make frequently.


I decided on making this swiss roll mainly because of a overgrown pandan plant and some leftover dessicated coconut that I bought to make my rendang.  It turned out to be a pretty good idea.

I adapted my go-to recipe for swiss rolls for this – replacing milk with coconut milk,  and some flour with cornflour.

I thought this pandan swiss roll would benefit from a gula melaka chantilly cream, making it  Southeast Asian dessert through and through.

While I wasn’t a hundred percent certain of how this swiss roll would turn out, I was definitely a hundred percent happy with the way it turned out.

The swiss roll maintained its soft and fluffy texture with an unmistakable fragrance of pandan and coconut milk, the toasted dessicated coconut added both a nice bite and it reinforced the coconut flavour in the cake, the caramel, molasses-like flavour of the gula melaka tinting the cream just a little completed the cake.

You can be assured that I have mentally saved this recipe in my “to bake again soon” list. I can foresee that this little swiss roll of mine is going to be one that I would want to have again and again.

pandan gula melaka swiss roll pandan swiss roll ingredients


Pandan swiss roll with gula melaka chantilly cream
Recipe adapted from Okashi by Keiko Ishida
Makes 1 souffle swiss roll

You can refer to my previous posts on raspberry and white chocolate swiss roll  for tips on making swiss rolls in general. I’ve also made a matcha and azuki bean swiss roll  that is very delicious.

This swiss roll pays homage to Singapore/ Southeast Asian flavours – pandan, dessicated coconut and gula melaka – the flavours of my childhood.

Group A:
1 whole egg
3 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
7-8 pandan leaves
1 – 2 tbsp water
green food colouring/pandan paste (optional, for a deeper green)

Group B:
35g unsalted butter
50g plain flour, sifted
10g cornflour, sifted
50ml coconut milk
10ml full cream milk

Group C:
3 egg whites
85g caster sugar

1. Preheat oven 180 degrees celcius. Line a 11″ square cake pan (28cm x 28cm) with baking parchment. If you do not have a pan this size, use a larger tray,and place some oven safe loaf pans to block out the area you do not want to use. Use an aluminium foil to keep to the two parts separated. It is important to bake the sponge cake in the correct size pan.

2. Prepare the pandan juice: wash the leave and cut them into 2-3 inch length. Blend them with a little water. Then using a fine mesh/sieve, press down the pandan juice. Discard the blended leaves. Add the pandan juice to the rest of the ingredients and whisk together until well-combined.

3. Group b ingredients: Sift the flour and cornflour twice. Place unsalted butter in a small saucepan and heat gently until melted. Then add sifted flours to melted butter and use a wooden spoon or spatula to stir it until it is cooked through (just like a roux). It should come away from the sides of the pot and form a ‘dough’. Transfer the flour and butter mixture into a mixing bowl. Then add group A ingredients gradually, whisking to combine until you get smooth batter.

4. Next, add the coconut milk and full cream milk, a little at a time, stir to incorporate.

5. Using a sieve, strain the above batter to remove any lumps, and set aside.

6. Prepare a meringue with Group C ingredients: Whisk egg whites in a grease-free bowl until soft peaks.Gradually add in the sugar and whisk at high speed until stiff peaks.

7. Add in a scoop of the meringue into the already strained batter and whisk. Then add in the remaining meringue in 2-3 additions and fold gently with a spatula until mixture is just incorporated.

8. Pour batter gently onto the prepared pan and spread evenly with a small palette knife. Bake for about 20 minutes until it springs back to touch. The top should be golden brown.

9. When the souffle sponge is out of the oven, cover the pan with cling wrap immediately. You want to cover it when it is still hot so the steam will keep the cake moist and pliable, making it easy to roll without cracking.

10. Allow the sponge to cool down entirely before assembling it.

Gula Melaka creme chantilly

160ml cream, at least 35% fat
30g gula melaka*, shaved if using blocks
1 tsp vanilla extract

*Gula Melaka is a type of palm sugar mostly used in Southeast Asia. It comes from the sap of coconut palm trees. It has a strong caramel flavour and it is similar to the molasses though richer and more intense. You can buy them in cylinder blocks or you can also find them in granulated form

1. Melt the shaved gula melaka over low heat until it has completely dissolved into a syrup. Leave it to cool completely before whisking the cream in a grease-free bowl at high speed and slowly add in the gula melaka syrup in a stream and vanilla extract when it is starting to achieve soft peaks. Whisk at high speed until firm peaks.

To assemble:

20g dessicated coconut, toasted and cooled (optional)

gula melaka creme chantilly


1. Turn out the cooled sponge (it should be cooled completely, so it doesn’t crack) onto a new piece of baking parchment. Trim the sides with a small serrate knife to neaten it. Alternatively, you can trim this after.
2. Spread the whipped cream onto the sponge using a palette knife, leaving a small margin along all four sides.

3. Top with toasted dessicated coconut. Gently roll the sponge up but try to do it quite tightly so there won’t be gaps in between the sponge and creme chantilly. The sponge is pliable and soft so it should be pretty easy to do so. You can use the parchment paper to help you. Trim the two ends of the swiss roll (then enjoy eating the trimmings).  Slice the swiss roll before serving.

*Storage tip: Keep the swiss roll in the fridge.  Slice them just before serving. You should try to finish this in a few days.


pandan swiss roll

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Normandy apple tarts (Tarte aux pommes a la Normande)

Here’s my Normandy apple tarts recipe as promised. I had been wanting to make these for ages after returning from my trip to Normandy where apples pastries and desserts existed in all forms. Well, if you have a bountiful of apples, why not make pastry.

There were so many apple desserts that I enjoyed, in particular,  the chaussons aux pommes (apple turnovers) and tarte aux pommes a la Normande. I thought I’ll have my go at least one of the two. I wasn’t about to make a puff pastry in the insane weather in Singapore, so the tarte aux pommes was a natural choice.

While some recipes opt for a frangipane filling instead of a custard, the ones that I had in Normandy  were filled with custard so that was what I chose to use. Since the custard and apples are sweet enough, a buttery and flaky shortcrust pastry would be a perfect base to complement the two.

You can taste the calvados running through the tart – subtle but definitely has its presence felt. You don’t have to use aged calvados for this – the purists would probably have something to say about that. Also, if you don’t have calvados, don’t fret. These tarts would still taste amazing with the replacement of brandy or even rum.

Bake the custard until they are just set. You would be able to tell when you pull them out – don’t wait for them to boil and bubble.

Lastly, serve them immediately after they are cooled or better yet, when they are still slightly warm. Give them a light dusting of icing sugar and you have yourself a lovely pick me up.


Recipe: Normandy apple tarts (Tarte aux pommes a la Normande)
Makes about 8-10 tarlets (8cm” tart rings or similar)

These tarts don’t look like much but they taste really delicious. They showcase the best of apples through lacing the apples with calvados, an apple brandy and baking the apples till they are soft and caramelised on the edges. The buttery and flaky pastry just works perfectly with the apples and soft-set custard.

For the shortcrust pastry (the shortcrust recipe makes twice the amount you need for this recipe. You can freeze the remaining for other use for up t o a month):
250g plain flour
pinch of salt
1 tsp sugar
150g unsalted butter, cubed
1 large egg, room temp
1-2 tsp iced cold water

For the apple filling:
3-4apples* (I use a mixture of royal gala apples and granny smiths)
juice from half a lemon
1 tsp calvados** (apple brandy)
3-4 tsp granulated sugar
15g butter, room temperature
a few tsp of ground almonds/almond meal, optional

For the custard:
1 large egg
85g double cream
40g granulated sugar
1 tsp calvados
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
a few additional tsp of granulated sugar for dusting over the apples

To serve:
icing sugar/confectioner’s sugar, optional
vanilla ice cream, optional

*Apples: Use apples that would hold their shape while baking. I like to use a mixture of sweet and tart apples. For other good varieties to use, refer to this article “Best apples for baking – the Kitchn” that I found very useful.

*Calvados is an apple brandy made in Normandy. If you don’t have it, you can replace it with brandy. Or even rum.

1. Prepare the pastry: Whisk together dry ingredients. Add in cubed butter. Using your finger-tips, rub butter into the the dry ingredients. Alternatively, you can use a food processor and pulse it (a couple of seconds each time), until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
2. Add in the egg and add in as much iced cold water as you need – Stop adding as soon as the dough comes together. It should be smooth and well combined. Divide the dough into two equal portions. Flatten the dough into a flat disc and cling wrap them. Refrigerate the dough for at least half an hour. You can do this step a day before. You can save the other half of the dough in the freezer for other use.
3. Roll out the dough to about 3mm thickness, cut them into circles using a large cookie cutter that is bigger than your tart molds. Tuck the dough neatly into the tart molds and trim off excess with a knife. Allow the tart bases to rest in the fridge while you work on the other components.

4. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius (440 deg F) as well as your oven tray.

5. Prepare the apple filling: Core the apples and slice them thinly. I like to leave the skins of the apple on as they give a nice visual effect especially if you are using a mixture of red and green apples. Combine them with the lemon juice first to prevent oxidation. Then add in the granulated sugar, calvados.

6. Prick the tart bases with a fork and add in a spoonful of ground almonds to the tart base before lining the apples neatly in the tart. Dot the apples with the butter. You don’t have to be too precise but try to add the butters in pinches evenly around the tarts. Place the tarts onto the hot oven tray and into the oven and bake them for 10 minutes at 220 deg Celsius (440 deg F). Lower the oven temperature to 200 deg Celsius (400 deg F) and bake for another 20 minutes. The pastry should be well baked (golden-brown, no soggy bottoms!) and the apples should be soft, cooked and have caramelised edges.

7. For the custard: Whisk together the egg, cream, sugar and calvados until well-incorporated. Pour into a jug. When the pastry is nice and golden-brown, pour the custard into each of the tarts. Be careful not to overfill. Dust a additional few tsps of granulated sugar over the apples and put the tarts back into the oven. I also added a few rum soaked raisins at this stage since I had them. Bake for an additional 10- 12  minutes or until the custard is set.
8. Allow the tarts to cool slightly for about 10 to 15 minutes removing them from the molds. Serve immediately when still slightly warm. Serve with a dusting of icing sugar and perhaps a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

*These tarts are best served immediately or on the day it is made. The custard will soften the flaky tart shells if you keep them for too long.


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Normandy apple tarts

normandy apple tart 1

I’ve been inspired to bake some Normandy apple tarts recently. I had some really lovely ones while visiting Bayeux and the Normandy region.

Hope to find time to blog about these soon.

Normandy apple tart 2

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Upside down rhubarb cake

‘Tis the season for rhubarb. I’m welcoming it with wide open arms. I love its tartness and soft, pink coloured centers when you cook them down. While they look like red celery stalks, once cooked down in sugar, they break down into a beautiful mess and is a good balance of sweet and tart. I love the gorgeous pink colour that seem to intensify when they cook. My favourite way of eating rhubarb is in desserts,a simple rhubarb crumble, in particular, after dinner is a pretty fine way of ending the meal. I don’t quite see a need to try another rhubarb dessert when I have my strawberry and rhubarb crumble.

However, a warm, sunny afternoon found me creaming up some butter and sugar and these rhubarb managed to find their way into the base (or should I say top?) of the cake. In a way, I’m glad they did. This cake is pretty awesome. You don’t have to cook down the rhubarb before adding it to the cake or it will just break down too much into a horrific mess. I wanted the rhubarb to hold its shape somehow so they make a lovely patterned on top of it.

Don’t worry, the rhubarb would be well-cooked after being in the oven for a good fifty minutes. It would also have the right balance of tartness and sweetness for there is enough sugar added into the pan schmear and the rhubarb. This cake is deliciously moist when it is slightly warm and even after it has cooled completely – it is fantastic for tea and breakfast. You can debate all you want about whether we should consider rhubarb a fruit or vegetable. Excuse me while I go have some of my cake.


Recipe: Upside down rhubarb cake
Makes a 9-inch round cake
Adapted from Upside down Pineapple cake from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home

Ingredients: For Pan schmear

57g unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 tbsp honey
1 tsp brandy
90g light brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt

For the rhubarb:
4-5 stalks of rhubarb, washed and tough ends trimmed
1 tbsp cornflour
2 tbsp granulated sugar

For the cake
113g unsalted butter, room temperature, cubed
120g sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
120g eggs
1 tbsp milk
120g cake flour
2 tsp baking powder


1. Prepare the pan schmear: Using a paddle attachment, cream the butter with honey, rum, brown sugar, salt and vanilla and beat until smooth and well-incorporated.

2. Prepare your cake tin: line and butter the baking parchment  if you are not using a silicon mould. Spread the schmear over the bottom of a 9-inch cake tin.

3.  Prepare the rhubarb: Slice the rhubarb into 1cm lengths and toss it with 1 tbsp of cornflour and 1 tbsp of granulated sugar. Top the rhubarb in a single layer over the pan schmear.

4. Prepare the cake: Cream the butter and sugar with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed to combine, then beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until pale and creamy, stopping to scrape down the sides as necessary. Add in the vanilla.

5. Add the eggs one at a time, beat until well-combined and scraping down the sides as necessary. Add in the milk. Add the sifted dry ingredients in 3 batches, until just incorporated.

6. Pour the cake batter over the apple slices and spread the batter neatly with a spatula knife. Knock the cake tin twice against the counter top. Bake in a 175 degrees celcius, preheated oven for about 50 minutes, rotating the cake tin mid way for even browning. The cake is done when it is golden brown and spring back to touch.

7. Cool the cake in the cake tin for about 10 minutes before running a knife around the edges before flipping it over a serving plate. The cake is best served warm though it still taste great at room temperature. *Cake can be stored at room temperature for 2 days. Or you keep the cake for up to a month if you clingwrap the completely cooled cake and store it in the freezer.

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I’ve written a post on Beaune last week. It’s time to turn the attention to the Burgundy region where Beaune sits in.

There is a lot of beauty in Burgundy in spring. There’s dancing sunlight and blooming flowers. The towns are starting to see activity and liveliness. However, if you are here for the vines, they have barely awoken from their winter slumber.

Burgundy is all about her grand vins yet also more than her grand vins. Sounds contradictory? I went to Burgundy expecting it to be about the beautiful wines – the elegant, oaked chardonnays and the subtle, sophisticated pinot noir but Burgundy turned out to be so much more than that.

Flavigny sur Ozerain 4

There are many small towns (aside from wine-making towns) in Burgundy; I’ve visited a few of these medieval, small towns that left a lasting imprint. Flavigny-sur-Ozerain, the town where the movie “Chocolat” was filmed in offered a quiet beauty.

While in this quiet medieval townm, you should follow your nose to the Anise sweet facotry. Yes, you would smell that nice whiff of anise aroma in the air. The Anise sweet factory is located at the historic abbey as the sweets were used to be made by the Benedictine monks. The sweets are not made with star anise, but with the aniseed. The anise flavour was surprisingly very pleasant. My favourite is the rose flavoured one – with the delicate flavour of rose permeating it. Apparently, the flavours of the candy are all natural flavouring – derived from plants through alcohol of steam distillation.

Flavigny sur Ozerain 3



Chateauneuf-en-Auxois, a small medieval yet picturesque village perched on a hilltop, is definitely worth a stopover. The journey is as beautiful as the destination as you can see the fortress from a distance.

You can visit the small fortified castle and its walls that was built in the 14th century. Otherwise, you can just take a stroll around the small medieval town and admire the beautiful views of the mountains of Morvan and the Auxois plains from this hilltop village.

Chateauneuf 4


Chateauneuf 2

Chateauneuf 3


Fontenay AbbeyThe Cistercian Abbeye de Fontenay (Fontenay Abbey), a well-preserved UNESCO Heritage site of a 12th century Burgundian monastery. The Abbey is situated in the middle of a wooded valley, near Montbard. The structure and buildings are quiet plain and free from embellishments – the cloisters are simple with stone arches around but very beautiful at the same time. The space encourages quiet contemplation and is a good site that gives a full view of the monastic lives of the cistercian monks.

Fontennay abbey 2 Fontennay Abbey 3


Dijon townAnother stop that you shouldn’t miss is Dijon, the capital of the Burgundy region. Dijon is a much bigger city compared to Beaune but its centre is pretty much walkable. Dijon is more than its namesake mustard. Of course, you can and should troop down to the Dijon-established Maile boutique to taste its full-range of mustard products.

After that, you should most definitely follow the owl’s trail around town (with the owl pointers on the roads); the owl’s trail brings you to the important sites like the Ducal Palace and the 13th century Notre Dame cathedral around Dijon town. The owl or la chouette is the icon of the Dijon town.

Dijon Notre Dame Palais Ducal Dijon

Dijon town is very lively even when we were there on a day with a lot of grey clouds and passing rain. You can drop by Les Halles, an indoor covered market; I prefer the market at Beaune but if you happen to be in Dijon, you can just walk  around the busy and authentic market and watch the locals shove their way into getting their produce.

A fun fact: Les Halles du Marche is designed by Gustave Eiffel, the same guy who designed the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Maybe that’s why you see similarities in the iron wrought arches?

Les halles dijon

The restaurants in the market’s vicinity are worth a stop for lunch – they have very affordable prix fixe lunch menus and allow you to sample a good range of Dijon fare.  One of my favourites is the oeufs en meurette (Eggs cooked in red wine)  – very delicious and all you need to do is to use a slie of bread to soak up all the good sauce. If you want a change from wine, you can opt for Dijon’s traditional cocktail – the  kir royale, a cocktail made with creme de cassis and a crisp white wine like aligoté.

ouefs en meurette

Another thing to get your hands on is the town’s specialty pain d’epices (spice bread). These pain d’epices are usually sold by the loaves and they make good gifts for your loved ones.

There you have it, Burgundy is so much more than her wines. You can definitely spend a whole week in the region and not be bored. It is definitely a region that I hope to revisit in the future.


You can visit Châteauneuf-en-Auxois, Flavigny sur Ozerain and the Fontenay Abbey in a single day.

Les Anis de Flavigny factory
You can visit the factory to see how the candies are being coated.
Opens: 9am to 11am, Mon to Fri

Fontenay Abbey
Opening hours differ based on seasons. Check out the Abbey’s Fontenay Abbey opening hours for precise timings.
Fee: 10 Euros for self-guided visits, and 12.50 Euros for guided tours.

 Les Halles (Dijon)
The covered market is located on rue Quentin
Opening hours: 7am-1pm Tue & Thu-Sat

Shopping in Dijon

Maille (for mustards)
32 Rue de la Liberté, Dijon

Mulot et Petitjean
13 Place Bossuet, Dijon.
Baking pain d’epices Dijonaise since 1796. Also, a shop with very pretty decor.

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