Pandan Coconut Cake with Kaya

Pandan Coconut Cake with Kaya | The green color of this cotton soft cake comes from pandan leaf, which is comparable to vanilla in Southeast Asia. Kaya is a spread made with coconut milk and eggs.

This is the cake I currently bring to parties, potlucks and any gatherings that involve food. It's a great conversation starter, usually beginning with the explanation on why the cake is green. No artificial coloring, I emphasize. The color comes from a leaf called pandan (scientific name pandanus amaryllifolius aka screwpine), which also contributes a unique flavor that has been described as sorta floral, sorta grassy, sorta nutty, and all-round wonderful. Comparable to vanilla in Southeast Asia, pandan is used to flavor both sweet and savory dishes.

Now, what’s that brown stuff in the middle? That’s coconut egg jam, fondly known as kaya in Malaysia and Singapore. It’s the first recipe I posted on this blog. Kaya translates to “rich” in Malay, and it’s a fitting description of its caramel custard quality. The bright aroma of pandan pairs extremely well with the creaminess of coconut, and with the luscious kaya as filling, this cake is a crowd-pleaser. Light and fluffy in texture, it is decadent without being demanding, which means room for seconds. And thirds. 

Pandan Coconut Cake with Kaya | The green color of this cotton soft cake comes from pandan leaf, which is comparable to vanilla in Southeast Asia. Kaya is a spread made with coconut milk and eggs.

It means a lot to me to be able to share this cake with my new family and friends, so imagine my excitement when I was invited to fellow blogger Lab Noon’s first (virtual) birthday party. I knew immediately I had to bring this cake. Originally from Tehran, Iran, Saghar Setareh, the woman behind the fabulous food blog, currently resides in Rome, Italy. Having recently migrated, I can totally relate to what she wrote in her introduction: “It’s about feeling at home. Not just physically or geographically. It’s a state of mind. It’s the smell from the oven that makes your mouth water.”

For her first anniversary, Lab Noon is featuring a Fruity Birthday Cake and a special giveaway. Head on over to join the celebration! This birthday party is filled with international flavors, with bloggers from around the world each bringing a cake or a dessert to the table. Check out all the other mouthwatering recipes at the bottom of the post. 

Happy birthday, Lab Noon! 

Pandan Coconut Cake with Kaya | The green color of this cotton soft cake comes from pandan leaf, which is comparable to vanilla in Southeast Asia. Kaya is a spread made with coconut milk and eggs.
Pandan Coconut Cake with Kaya
The basic cake recipe is adapted from The Woks of Life. The delightful combination of pandan, coconut and kaya flavors encapsulated in a cotton soft, pillowy texture is what makes this cake a winner. Pandan leaves can be found at the refrigerated or frozen section in Asian supermarkets. And you can follow the recipe to make kaya here
1 cup unbleached pastry flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
6 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 tablespoon homemade pandan extract
Kaya (recipe here)
Shredded coconut
To make pandan extract, cut 5 to 6 leaves into small strips with a pair of scissors and blend with 1/4 cup water until you get a puree. Then squeeze puree in cheesecloth to extract liquid. Place liquid extract in a container and set aside until the dark green solid bits sink to the bottom. Pour out the layer of clear liquid on top and you have concentrated pandan extract. I usually make pandan extract a day ahead and keep overnight in the fridge for the liquid and extract to separate. 
Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a 9” x 13” baking pan with parchment paper, with at least two corresponding ends sticking out for easy removal of cake later.
Sift together unbleached pastry flour, cornstarch and baking powder twice.
Whisk 6 egg yolks and half the sugar in a large bowl. Add vegetable oil, coconut milk and pandan extract, and whisk to thoroughly combine all ingredients. Add sifted dry ingredients and stir until fully incorporated.
In another bowl, whip 6 egg whites with an electric mixer until thick foam is formed. Gradually add the remaining sugar and keep whipping until you get soft peaks. At a slower speed, continue to whip until stiff peaks are achieved.
Gradually and gently fold the egg white mixture into the egg yolk mixture until fully combined. You will get a delicate, soft and fluffy batter.
Pour mixture into baking pan and spread out as evenly as possible with a spatula, making sure the corners are filled. Jiggle the batter and knock pan on worktop 2 to 3 times to make sure it’s completely level.
Fill a rimmed baking sheet with 1 cup of water and place the baking pan on it. Bake on middle rack of oven until the middle of the cake springs back when lightly pressed, about 20 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool for 20 minutes. Knock pan on worktop 2 to 3 times to loosen cake. Transfer cake to a piece of parchment paper by placing a parchment paper-lined baking sheet on top of the baking pan and flip so the cake is now on the new parchment paper. Carefully peel off the parchment paper that the cake baked with. Then transfer cake onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Trim the edges of the cake. Cut into half, spread kaya generously on one side and flip the other side over to sandwich. Spread a light layer of kaya on top of cake and cover with shredded coconut. Cut into desired size and serve. 

More dessert recipes for the virtual birthday party:
 Chamomile Apricot Vertical Roll Cake by Twigg Studios
• Apricot Crostata with Rice Lemon Curd by Hortus Cuisine
• Cherry Clafoutis by foodistan
• Torta della nonna (Grandma's Pie) by cocinayletras
• Ciambelline alla lavanda con glassa alle more by Celeste Cucina
• Summer Berry Tart by Foolproof Living
• Mini Chocolate Pavlovas with Blueberries by my kitchen kiosk
• Sourdough Lemon Poppy Seed Bread Cake with Lemon Icing by my daily sourdough bread
• Earl Grey Tea Mousse by Gourmet Project
• Syllabub ai frutti di bosco by La Panificatrice Folle
• Passionfruit Sponge by Rustica Retro
• Cooling Watermelon Cakes by gretchen gretchen
• Orange Blossom Cupcakes by Persian Foodie