How to make Ibu Mina’s pandan chiffon cake : bolu pandan

When I moved to Indonesia I started seeing green! and I’m not referring to the tropical landscape. I’m talking about cakes and bread! … green cakes and green bread! The source was pandan, a tropical plant with long palm-like leaves and a distinct nutty flavour.

This week Jo and I had the pleasure of being shown how to make a ‘green cake’ … a moist and aromatic pandan chiffon cake, commonly known in Indonesia as ‘bolu pandan’ or ‘pandan ball’ flavoured with fresh pandan juice and coconut milk. We decided it was time to add ‘bolu pandan’ to our Indonesian cooking story, and thought you might like to join us.

Below you will find Ibu Mina’s easy-to-follow recipe which makes a moist, with just enough sweetness chiffon that is cotton-soft, light and fluffy, and wonderfully aromatic!

Who’s hungry? 

Pandan chiffon cake

Makes: One 10 inch / 25cm cake
Cook time: 30 minutes (conventional setting)

6 pandan leaves, washed and roughly chopped
1/2 grated fresh coconut
5 large eggs
1 cup of sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup fresh coconut milk
1 heaped cup of plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch salt
1/4 teaspoon vanila essence
3 drops Hijau Tua – dark green food colouring (optional)


Preparing your cake pan and oven:

  • Adjust the oven rack to the lowest position and preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  • Prepare a 10 inch / 25 cm chiffon cake pan with butter and a light dusting of flour.

To make pandan juice:

  • Wash the leaves thoroughly to remove the grit and dirt. Gather the leaves together into a tight bunch and cop roughly into 5mm pieces.
    Place chopped pandan leaves into a food processor and add 50ml of water. Blend until the leaves are pulverised about 1 minute.
  • Press the pulp with the back of a metal spoon through a fine metal sieve to obtain the juice. Strain through a sieve. You should have about 50-60 ml of juice

To make fresh coconut milk:

  • Ibu Mina bought one coconut this morning and asked for it to be shredded at her local roadside coconut vendor. (the little brown bits you can see are shreds of coconut shell) They will be strained out. In an Indonesian Pasar you will find many coconut vendors and most will have their own grating and juicing machines.
  • Once you are home with your grated coconut, place it in a large bowl and add 100 ml of room temperature water. This is where the fun begins!
  • Squeeze the wet mixture into a bowl to start releasing the coconut milk. Keep squeezing for approximately 5 minutes until the shredded coconut starts to feel dry.
  • Then transfer the coconut mixture with your hands into a metal sieve, continue to squeeze the coconut mixture and the coconut milk will keep running out. Keep squeezing until you can’t get another drop. The first press will be the most concentrated and creamy.
  • The longer the mixture stands the thicker and creamier it will become.
  • Spoon the thick coconut mixture from the top for the cake.
You will be left with very dry shredded coconut flesh. This can be composted.

To make the pandan chiffon cake:

  • In a large bowl beat 5 eggs with the sugar on high speed until light and fluffy. 
  • Add salt and vanilla essence and mix until combined.
  • Sift flour and baking powder and add to the egg and sugar mixture. Combine with a spatula or on a low speed setting.
  • Now add the coconut milk, pandan juice until well combined. We decided to add a few drops of green food colouring to give our mixture a more vibrant green colour. This is optional. For a natural colouring you can use daun suji juice. Find the recipe here.
  • Slowly pour the batter into a pan while tilting the mixing bowl to get rid of air bubbles. Use a rubber spatula to quickly run through the batter to pop air bubbles.
  • Lift the pan about 10cm off your kitchen bench and drop it onto the bench a few times to eliminate air pockets.
  • Bake until the cake is golden on top and a long skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Run a thin knife around the sides of the pan and centre core to release the cake.
Ingredients to make pandan chiffon cake, clockwise: eggs, pandan juice, salt, sugar, vegetable oil, fresh coconut milk, plain flour and baking powder, vanilla essence, green food colouring (optional)

Note: It is perfectly normal for the surface of the batter to crack during baking. However, if it starts to crack before the first 15 mins of baking has passed, it may indicate that the oven temp is too high.
Ibu Mina’s recipe will turn out into a fluffy, moist and aromatic cake. Cut into desired number of slices and serve.
Thank you Ibu Mina for sharing your recipe for bolu pandan with us!

To serve:
‘In Indonesia bolu pandan is served simply with tea or coffee. Many people like to enjoy bolu pandan warm when it is most aromatic’ says Ibu Mina

Once the cake has cooled, store it in an air-tight container. It should be able to keep well for up to three days. However, we bet that it will be gone within a day or at the very most, two!

Cooks notes:

  • Chiffon cakes are often made by folding beaten egg whites into a batter that has oil as the fat. This recipe makes a moist cake without separating the eggs … much faster!
  • Fresh pandan leaves are easy to find in Indonesia, whether from your mobile tukang sayur, local pasar or supermarket. Pandan is also easy to grow in a pot.
  • The unused pandan juice can be stored in an airtight container and will keep up to 2 days if stored in the refrigerator.
  • In the tropics if you prefer not to use green food colouring daun suji juice can be substituted.

Did you try this recipe? We would love to hear about your experience! Share it on Instagram! We would love to see! Don’t forget to mention @ajourneybespoke so we can share it with you!

You might also enjoy: 
Traditional Cakes and Sweets of Indonesia
How to make Klepon : a sweet Indonesian snack
How to make Ibu Mina’s rich and spicy beef rendang
Hidden treasures in Indonesian Cuisine with Petty Elliott
Exploring Pasar Minggu : South Jakarta’s Major Centre for Fresh Produce
AJB’s Guide to Essential Herbs and Spices for your Indonesian Kitchen

Words: Liz McClean and Ibu Mina Photography: a journey bespoke
Recipe credit: Ibu Mina, Jakarta Indonesia

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