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Pandan Coconut Butter Cake

A rich butter cake with bright green color from natural extract of pandan leaves and coconut milk. A slice of this will transport you to tropical islands!

The combination of pandan leaves and coconut milk immediately transports me back to Indonesia as I munch on this lovely pandan coconut butter cake accompanied by ice tea, jasmine of course, so I can pretend to have a wonderful tea time in the tropics. The green color comes from pandan leaves, and before you ask, I have no idea what the equivalent would be if using pandan essence instead of 100% natural pandan extract from pandan leaves. To ensure that your natural pandan extract looks as green as possible, try to use only the top part of pandan leaves where they are all green. But even if your cake doesn’t end up looking as green as you like, you still have the peace of mind that the coloring is all-natural instead of using green dye.

Ingredients to prepare pandan coconut butter cake.

Ingredients to prepare pandan coconut butter cake.

Make pandan extract from fresh/frozen pandan leaves

Whenever I prepare a pandan dessert, I make my own pandan extract from fresh/frozen pandan leaves. To achieve the green color for this cake, I use:

  • 50 gram pandan leaves, use the green part of the leaves only
  • 100 ml water

Simply cut the leaves into thin strips with a pair of scissors and blend them with water in a blender until the leaves are completely pulverized. Squeeze to obtain about 75 ml of pandan extract. If your leaves don’t look very green, you may want to increase the amount up to 75 grams just to be sure that you will get a green cake.

Can I use store-bought pandan extract?

If you cannot find fresh/frozen pandan leaves and want to use store-bought pandan extract instead, use 1 teaspoon of store-bought pandan extract and add 75 ml of either water, milk, or coconut milk. If you need a recommendation for a store-bought pandan extract, then all I will say is that most Indonesians use Koepoe-Koepoe pandan extract, but seriously, the real deal is simply so much better. Personally, I would rather bake a regular butter cake instead of using store-bought extract.

Step-by-step guide to prepare pandan coconut butter cake batter: (1) Make pandan extract. (2) Prepare meringue batter and pandan egg yolk batter. (3) Fold meringue into pandan egg yolk batter. (4) Pour batter into a greased and lined 8 inch square pan.

Step-by-step guide to prepare pandan coconut butter cake batter: (1) Make pandan extract. (2) Prepare meringue batter and pandan egg yolk batter. (3) Fold meringue into pandan egg yolk batter. (4) Pour batter into a greased and lined 8 inch square pan.

Prepare the batter

Once my pandan extract is ready, I usually do the following:

  1. Grease and line my 8-inch square cake pan. You can use either a 2” tall pan or a 3” tall pan. Be sure that your parchment paper overhangs the pan so you can easily grab the extra paper to remove the cake later on.
  2. Preheat the oven to 160 Celsius (320 Fahrenheit).
  3. Boil a pot of hot water to fill a baking tray for steam bake (bain-marie).

Once everything is done, it is time to prepare the cake batter:

  1. Meringue batter: Whisk egg whites until foamy, then add vinegar or cream of tartar and whisk until pale, then gradually add sugar and continue whisking until medium peak. Set this aside.
  2. Egg yolk batter: Beat egg yolks and sugar until pale, then add melted butter, coconut cream, and pandan extract. Beat until well mixed. Sift in cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat on lower speed just until well mixed.
  3. Fold the meringue into egg yolk batter in 3 batches. Use either a balloon whisk or a spatula for this.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Tap to remove air bubbles.
Wait until the cake is completely cooled before cutting into serving slices.

Wait until the cake is completely cooled before cutting into serving slices.

Baking the butter cake with a water bath method

For a super smooth cake, I usually bake the cake with a bain-marie method or a water bath method. Here is what I do:

  1. Position one oven rack at the bottom and one oven rack in the middle.
  2. Place a baking tray at the bottom and filled the tray with hot water.
  3. Place the cake pan at the middle rack.
  4. Bake until the cake is fully cooked and the top is golden brown. This usually takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Once the cake is done, remove from the oven and gently remove the cake by grabbing the overhanging parchment paper. Cool completely on a wire rack. Once the cake is completely cool, slice it into 9 to 16 squares. I usually do 16 squares since a butter cake can be quite rich. I hope you will love this cake as much as I do. :)

Pandan coconut butter cake.

Pandan coconut butter cake.

Other pandan recipes you may want to try

If you love pandan, whether the color, or the flavor, or both, you may want to give my other pandan recipes a try:

And again, if you love a good butter cake and you don’t have pandan leaves, please give my Mrs. Ng old fashioned butter cake recipe a try, I promise you won’t be disappointed. :)

Originally published on June 20, 2016. Updated on December 2, 2019 with new photos.

Pandan Coconut Butter Cake

5.0 from 9 reviews

Author: Anita Jacobson



Prep Time: 30 mins

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour 30 mins

Serves: 16


  • Pandan extract
  • 50-75 gram fresh/frozen pandan leaves, use the top green parts only
  • 100 ml (6 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) water
  • Cake
  • 5 egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar (or 1 teaspoon vinegar)
  • 1/2 cup (100 gram) sugar
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup (100 gram) sugar
  • 2 sticks/8 oz/230 gram unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup (~ 90 gram) coconut cream
  • 250 gram (~ 2 cup) cake flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  • Pandan extract
    1. Use sharp scissors, cut the leaves into thin strips, the thinner the better, about 1/16" if possible.
    2. Place pandan leaves and water in a blender. Puree until the leaves are completely pulverized. Strain and squeeze to get pandan extract. Use 75 ml (5 tablespoon) of the extract. (You should get only slightly more than this amount).
  • Cake
    1. Preheat oven to 320 Fahrenheit (160 Celcius). Boil a pot of water. Grease and line an 8" x 8" square pan with parchment paper, set aside.
    2. Meringue: Whisk egg whites on low speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar/vinegar, whisk until pale with very small bubbles. Increase speed, continue whisking while gradually add 100 gram of sugar until stiff peak. Set aside.
    3. Egg yolk batter: Beat egg yolks and sugar until pale and thick. Add melted butter, coconut cream, and pandan extract. Beat to mix. Sift in cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat on low speed just until combined.
    4. Fold in meringue into the egg yolk batter with a spatula/balloon whisk in 3 batches. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan.
    5. Position one oven rack at the bottom and place a baking tray filled with hot water.
    6. Position another oven rack in the middle, and place the cake pan. Bake in the preheated oven until a cake tester comes out clean, the cake is fully cooked, and the top is golden brown, about 1 hour 30 minutes.
    7. Remove cake from the pan and let the cake cool completely on a wire rack, then cut into small slices to serve.
Indonesian Pantry
Indonesian Kitchen


  • Atika Atika says:

    Hi Mbak Anita, I hope you are well. I live in Oxford at the moment and very grateful that I had crossed path with you and your blog. I have never cook before in Indonesia but now I can enjoy nasi uduk, nasi kuning and mie ayam (I even made the wonton myself! :')) along with their friends because of this blog. Thank you! :* I also had tried this delicious pandan coconut butter cake recipe for a few times, however the inside cake are always a bit wet and dense compared to the outer layer which looks dry and airy. Is it because I did not use the same size pan as described above or due to the pandan paste which is not dry enough (I use the pandan paste recipe) or is it because the sugar and butter are not white and fluffy enough? Or a bit wet and dense inside is the goal that I should reach? I would be grateful if you could share some advice regarding this recipe. Looking forward to hearing from you. Best wishes, Tika

    • Anita Anita says:

      Hi Tika, the biggest suspect is probably the different size pan. You should be able to get the same result if you use a 9-inch round cake pan, using the exact same recipe, cooking for the exact same time. As for the texture, it should be similar to American pound cake, or Asian butter cake, so yes the cake is quite dense, but it shouldn't be wet. If your baking powder is indeed still okay and has not expired, then the only other culprit is probably too much liquid. Could it be you are using coconut milk and not coconut cream?

  • Anjali @ The Picky Eater Anjali @ The Picky Eater says:

    This recipe was so much fun to make and turned out absolutely delicious! I didn't even know what pandan leaves were before I found this recipe, but I loved how it gave the batter such a natural green color without food coloring!

    • Anita Anita says:

      Indeed. It may be a bit of work to get that natural pandan extract, but the effort is so worth it. The cake is super fragrant and that lovely green color is so pleasing to the eyes. :)

  • Calleigh F Calleigh F says:

    I love the addition of pandan, for me its flavor is wholly unique and indescribable. This makes the butter cake irresistible due to the pandan leaf scent.

    • Anita Anita says:

      You describe it to a T, Calleigh. It is indeed so hard to describe how it smells and tastes to those who have never tried anything with pandan before. But seriously, for anyone who loves cooking and eating good food, you need to try using pandan at least once. :)

  • Beth Beth says:

    This looks incredibly good! I have never had anything with pandan leaves before but this makes me want to run right out and find it! Thanks for sharing!

  • Sadia Malik Sadia Malik says:

    I love the green color, have never tried pandan so wonder what the taste is like.

    • Anita Anita says:

      Sadia, if you are familiar with Indian dishes, you probably already know what pandan is. The flavor should be exactly that of kewra. In Indonesia and many other Southeast Asian countries, on top of the fragrance, we usually also make pandan extract like this from pandan leaves to color our desserts. :)

  • Whitney Whitney says:

    Can't wait to try this pandan recipe. It is unique and looks beautiful yet simple. Love the flavors!

  • Dannii Dannii says:

    I absolutely love anything with coconut in it.

  • Adrianne Adrianne says:

    This is such an original and unique recipe, I love it!! The cake looks soft and fluffy, love the thorough recipe information. Cheers!

  • Erica Schwarz Erica Schwarz says:

    This looks wonderful! I'll be making this for my next work potluck, I work with adventurous eaters they'll love to try something new.

  • Clarissa Clarissa says:

    Is there a substitute for cake flour? If I don’t have it. Thank you

    • Anita Anita says:

      Clarissa, instead of 2 cups of cake flour, you can try 1.75 cup (210 gram) all-purpose flour + 1/4 cup cornstarch. Please whisk the all-purpose flour and cornstarch together really well, possibly 2-3 times, so they are well mixed.

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