"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
Makes one 9-inch round cake, about 24 servings ---
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
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
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
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
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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