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 swiss roll with gula melaka chantilly cream
Recipe adapted from Okashi by Keiko Ishida
Makes 1 souffle swiss roll
This swiss roll pays homage to Singapore/ Southeast Asian flavours – pandan, dessicated coconut and gula melaka – the flavours of my childhood.
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)
35g unsalted butter
50g plain flour, sifted
10g cornflour, sifted
50ml coconut milk
10ml full cream milk
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.
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.