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      RECIPE TITLE "Steamed Pandan Layer Cake"
    recipe excerpted from The Sweet Spot: Asian-Inspired Desserts - Copyright © 2007 by Pichet Ong
    Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.

    yields Makes one 9-inch round cake, about 24 servings time--- difficulty moderate

    Asian cakes are often sticky treats that taste more like candy than pastry. Glutinous rice flour lends a rich flavor and a distinctive chewy texture not found anywhere else. I love this particular version of sticky rice cake because of the fragrant pandan, which adds a fresh, floral note and vibrant green color to the cake. The result looks almost like layered Jell-O treats, but the taste is far more sophisticated.

    chef's tip: Pandan leaves, also known as screwpine or bai touy, can be found frozen in Asian markets. Fresh pandan leaves, available only in Asia, impart a brilliant grass green color to desserts. To achieve the same color, you can use pandan extract, also available in Asian markets. Without the extract, the cake will be a calming shade of jade.


    2 teaspoons canola, vegetable, or other neutral oil for greasing the pan
    ½ cup (15?8 ounces/45 grams) chopped thawed frozen pandan leaves
    2½ cups (20 ounces/568 grams)
    unsweetened coconut milk
    1¾ cups (117?8 ounces/335 grams) sugar
    2?3 cup (2¾ ounces/79 grams) tapioca flour
    2?3 cup (2¾ ounces/76 grams) glutinous rice flour
    3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    2 teaspoons cornstarch
    ¼ teaspoon salt
    A drop of pandan extract, optional


    1. Prepare a steamer by filling a large round casserole with water to a depth of 3 inches; the casseroleshould be at least 11 inches in diameter and have a tightly fitting lid. Put a steamer rack or enough crumpled heavy-duty aluminum foil to support the cake pan on the bottom; the rack or foil should be just above the waterline. Set over medium heat and bring to a steady simmer. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan with the oil and set aside.

    2. Put the pandan leaves in a blender with ¼ cup of the coconut milk and 1?3 cup water. Blend until the pandan leaves are finely chopped. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth, pressing on the pandan leaves to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the leaves and set the liquid aside.

    3. In a medium bowl, combine the remaining 2¼ cups coconut milk with the sugar and stir until the sugar dissolves; set aside.

    4. Mix the three flours, the cornstarch, and the salt together in a large mixing bowl. Add the coconut milk mixture and stir until well blended. Pour half the batter (about 2 cups) into another mixing bowl. Add the pandan liquid and the extract, if using, to one of the bowls and mix well.

    5. Pour 1 cup of the green batter into the cake pan, tilting the pan to form an even layer. Carefully set the cake pan on the steamer rack, making sure that the pan sits as evenly as possible. Wrap a thin kitchen towel around the lid, cover the pot tightly, and steam until the cake layer is firm and set, about 4 minutes.

    6. Carefully pour 1 cup of the white cake batter on top of the green batter. Pour the batter in from the side so that it will spread into an even layer naturally. Steam, covered, until the white layer is set, about 10 minutes. Repeat with the remaining batter, alternating colors.

    7. When the final layer is set, turn off the heat, uncover the pot, and let the cake cool in the casserole until it is cool enough to touch.

    8. Remove the cake pan from the casserole, run a knife around the edge, and cut the cake into little squares. (You can eat the trimmings yourself.) It is best served the same day, as it hardens over time.

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