Japanese Pandan Cupcakes

In Japan and China, sweet and savoury dishes are often served alongside each other. It is often difficult to find the right dessert  that compliments the oriental flavours of the meal. However, I still find myself craving sweet things after a nice bowl of ramen. I first discovered pandan cake, a Japanese chiffon cake, in The Dumpling Sisters’ cookery book, which unusually has a desserts section at the back. Much as I love this cake, my husband is not keen on its springy, foamy texture.

Pandan cakes

This is my version of a pandan cake, mixing East with West, with Mrs. Beeton’s Victoria sponge recipe combined with the unusual flavour and colour of pandan. There are no measurements for the flour, butter and sugar as you take the measurement from the weight of the eggs. This makes the perfect sponge! Also, don’t be tempted to substitute margarine- your cakes will taste nowhere near as nice!

Pandan Birthday Cake


October 2016: I am adding to this post as my sister recently requested this recipe as her birthday cake. I doubled the mixture, put it into two 8″ greased cake tins, which I cooked in the oven at the same temperature for 25 minutes. I covered the top and sides with the coconut buttercream (double the quantity at least for this too!) and then decorated it with Rainbow Dust edible green glitter and these edible green butterflies.


Pandan Cake


Makes 12


2 medium free range eggs

Butter, brought to room temperature

Golden caster sugar

Self-raising flour

Pinch salt

1 tsp. pandan essence/ paste

½ tsp. vanilla essence

For the coconut buttercream

100g butter, softened

Approx. 75-100g icing sugar

2 tbsp. coconut milk- shake the can really well before opening and stir to make sure it hasn’t seperated

Whatever decoration you fancy- I used white chocolate buttons, desiccated coconut and pink and white sugar hearts



  1. Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Place your cupcake cases out on a 12 hole cupcake tin.
  2. Weigh the eggs in their shells and measure out in separate bowls the same weight in butter, sugar and flour.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar together. Add the eggs one by one, mixing after each egg is added to combine. Add the pandan and vanilla and then fold the flour into the mixture. Divide between the paper cases.
  4. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, or until a skewer inserting in a cake in the middle comes out clean. Remove and allow to cool for ten minutes, then remove from the tin and allow to cool completely.
  5. Beat the butter for the buttercream in a small bowl. Add the icing sugar gradually, sifting if it has lumps in it, adding the coconut milk after about half of the butter cream is added. Continue adding icing sugar, little by little, and combining until you have a nice consistency that isn’t too soft or hard. (this can vary depending on how warm it is on the day- just use trial and error- if you end up making the buttercream too soft- add more sugar; if too hard, add more butter or a little more coconut milk).
  6. Apply the buttercream carefully with a knife around each cupcake, moving towards the centre of the cake to create a swirl. Top with your decorations and serve with a cup of Chinese tea (or a mug of English breakfast!).

Pandan cupcake afternoon tea



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