Walk into most any Filipino bakery (in the U.S. and in the P.I.) and you are just as likely to find a display of brightly decorated chiffon cakes as you are to see the plain-jane likes of freshly baked pan de sal and ensaimada.
Big chain Filipino bakeries like Golidlocks and Red Ribbon, as well as smaller mom and pop joints, all crank out various frosted, iced, and overly sugared chiffons ranging in flavors from chocolate, to mocha, to mango, to pandan, to macapuno, and the ever-popular (and ever-purple) ube. Heck, my family even loves the neon tropical chiffon cakes (passion fruit & guava!) from King’s Hawaiian bakeries.
Yup. We Pinoys loves us some chiffon cake.
But how on Earth did an American cake come to be such a popular dessert amongst Filipinos? Well, probably in the same way that spam, ice cream, and hamburgers made their way into the Filipino culinary landscape–American tastes and food products crossed over to the Philippines during the American occupation of the Islands in the first half of the 20th century. Ever since then, chiffon cake (and spam, and ice cream, and hamburgers, and many other things) has stuck with us. Ah, colonialism!
Anyways, when the LA Times recently ran this story on chiffon cake (and provided recipes for a basic chiffon as well as chocolate, hazelnut-orange, and pandan-coconut) I knew I had to dust off my angel food cake pan and give one of the Times’ chiffon recipes a try. Although I considered ube-fying the basic recipe for chiffon cake, I decided to instead give the pandan-coconut recipe a whirl (my cup runneth over with a crapload of ube recipes).
Not neon green, but still full of flavor
The Times’ recipe for Pandan Chiffon Cake is simple enough, with the only possible curveballs coming in the form of pandan leaves and pandan extract–both of which, however, I was able to easily find at my friendly neighborhood Filipino market.
Throwing some pandan leaves and water into a blender provides some instant grassy-nutty goodness in the form of pandan juice. With the freshly blitzed juice and a touch of the bottled extract, the chiffon cake takes on the familiar Filipino flavors of pandan. And to top things off, a simple mix of coconut milk and powdered sugar provides a coconut glaze to complement the pandan.
The resultant cake was moist, delicate, and rich all at once–immediately negating my need for any future chiffon runs to Goldilocks and Red Ribbon.
To make this Pandan Chiffon Cake with Coconut Glaze, you can find the LA Times recipe here.
Also, I have a few other Pandan Recipes in the Burnt Lumpia Recipe Archive-o-matic: