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.
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.
Prepare the batter
Once my pandan extract is ready, I usually do the following:
- 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.
- Preheat the oven to 160 Celsius (320 Fahrenheit).
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- Fold the meringue into egg yolk batter in 3 batches. Use either a balloon whisk or a spatula for this.
- Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Tap to remove air bubbles.
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:
- Position one oven rack at the bottom and one oven rack in the middle.
- Place a baking tray at the bottom and filled the tray with hot water.
- Place the cake pan at the middle rack.
- 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. :)
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:
- es cendol
- pandan coconut ice cream
- pandan and coconut milk layered agar
- nasi gurih - pandan and coconut milk rice
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
- Pandan extract
- 50-75 gram fresh/frozen pandan leaves, use the top green parts only
- 100 ml (6 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) water
- 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
- Use sharp scissors, cut the leaves into thin strips, the thinner the better, about 1/16" if possible.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Fold in meringue into the egg yolk batter with a spatula/balloon whisk in 3 batches. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan.
- Position one oven rack at the bottom and place a baking tray filled with hot water.
- 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.
- Remove cake from the pan and let the cake cool completely on a wire rack, then cut into small slices to serve.