Sunday 2 March 2014

Pandan Cupcakes with Gula Melaka Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting

I've been meaning to bake pandan cake & pair it with some form of gula Melaka frosting since the school holidays last year. I did some research & narrowed down on a few recipes, but had not got down to doing it. When school reopened, the idea just faded away. But recently, when I saw Rima posted her gorgeous pandan cake with gula Melaka frosting, I was inspired again to bake one myself.

I decided to be less ambitious... If you had been following my blog, you would know I'm not into frosting & decorating cakes. So I adapted a recipe of a frosted layered cake to make cupcakes instead. I've also never liked buttercream too because I find it too rich & I don't like the aftertaste (which I realised, could be because margarine is used instead of butter). But I've read about Swiss meringue buttercream & it seems to earn pretty good reviews. 

I came across a recipe of pandan cake with gula Melaka Swiss meringue frosting from Life Is Great. The cake recipe is actually adapted from Magnolia's vanilla cake & it uses the creaming method of mixing. That's a good thing as  I didn't need to do a lot of washing up!

The cake & the frosting are just perfect! The pandan cake is so moist & delicious that, if I don't control myself, I can eat a few in one go! All the hard work preparing the pandan juice really paid off.... the cakes are very fragrant & the natural pandan flavour is hard to beat. The frosting is just amazing. It's smooth & silky, & even after so many hours in the kitchen in this humid weather, it still holds its shape perfectly. It also doesn't taste too rich & the gula Melaka caramel gives the frosting a uniquely Asian flavour. I just love everything about this cake. The only change I would make to the frosting in future is to reduce the granulated sugar & pour more gula Melaka caramel into the buttercream. Now let's look at the recipe, study it carefully & bake it!

(Update 1: Go to this post where I also drizzled salted gula Melaka caramel on the cupcakes.)
(Update 2: Go to this post for the sliced version of this pandan cake.)

Pandan Cupcakes with Gula Melaka Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting

Pandan cake:
200g cake flour
1/2 tsp baking powder (double acting)
125g unsalted butter, softened
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla paste / essence
200g granulated / castor sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
*75g coconut milk (from a box) + 25g water
*2 tbsps pandan juice (refer below)
*green colouring
* (combined & mixed)

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Line muffin pan with cupcake liner or, if using cupcake paper cups, place cups onto a baking pan.
  2. Combine flour & baking power. Sift & set aside. 
  3. In a large bowl, on medium speed of an electric mixer, combine butter, vanilla & salt. Cream until smooth. 
  4. Add sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. 
  5. Add in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. 
  6. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the coconut milk. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated, taking care not to over beat.
  7. Fill paper cups or muffin pan with batter, 3/4 full.
  8. Place baking or muffin pan on the middle rack of the oven & bake for about 25 minutes.
  9. Cool cakes completely on a wire rack before icing. 
Gula Melaka Swiss meringue buttercream frosting:

50g gula Melaka, crushed 
2 pandan leaves, torn lengthwise & tied a knot
1/8 cup water

3 large egg whites
110g granulated sugar
150g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla paste
pinch of salt

  1. To prepare gula Melaka caramel, combine water, gula Melaka & daun pandan in a heavy-based saucepan over medium low heat. Stir until all the sugar has melted. Then continue heating up the syrup & let it reduce slightly, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat, strain & leave aside to cool completely to room temperature. The caramel will thicken  as it cools. If it becomes too thick, thin out with a little bit of water before using.
  2. Combine egg whites, sugar and salt in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Whisk frequently, keeping it over the heat, until the mixture reaches about 70°C and the sugar has dissolved (rub some between your fingers - if it feels grainy, it hasn't dissolved). 
  3. Transfer the mixture to a mixer with a whisk attached and beat on medium-high for about 5 minutes, until stiff peaks have formed and the mixture has cooled to room temperature. 
  4. Turn down the speed to medium and start adding small chunks of butter, checking that it has incorporated before adding more. Keep beating until the mixture comes together, this will take about 5 minutes. 
  5. With the mixer running, add in the gula Melaka caramel, one teaspoon at a time, beating until well combined between each addition.  I added 5 tsps.

Pandan juice:
10 pieces mature pandan leaves, washed & torn into 1-inch pieces
2 tbsps water

      With a mortar and pestle or a blender, combine the leaves & water & mash into a paste.  Press through a fine sieve or squeeze through cheesecloth to extract the green juice only. Let it sit for a while. The green extract will settle at the bottom. I used 2 tbsps of the extract.

  1. The pandan extract can be prepared before hand and chilled until required.
  2. Swiss meringue buttercream can be made ahead and refrigerated until needed. Bring to room temperature and whip to a smooth consistency before frosting. The buttercream requires no refrigeration for up to 5 days. It will keep in the refrigerator for 3 weeks and in the freezer for at least 3 months.
  3. Make sure you use the pure gula Melaka for the best flavour. I usually buy mine from Geylang Serai market & ask for the one from Indonesia. It costs about $4-5 per kg. I don't buy mine from the supermarket because I'm not sure if it's pure.
  4. This recipe yields 12 medium or 30 small cupcakes & there was some leftover frosting after I piped on all the cupcakes.
Adapted recipe from Life Is Great.


Joceline Lor said...

So nice! Well done.

Gloria Fernandes said...

I just loved it...feel like grabbing a piece..too good.

Mel said...

Pandan and gula melaka, both are best combo together. Wish I could get one from you to taste first. Must be very yummy and delicious.

Victoria Bakes said...

i love this combination as well... they just compliment each other soo well... very pretty cuppies Faeez

Anonymous said...

Hello! Ive been reading your baking posts lately and theyre all so awesome, masyaAllah! Been wanting to try this since i read your post. Just a question, the coconut milk, is it 75ml or 75g? Hehe im a noob in baking so id appreciate your reply! Thank youuuuuuu! :)

- s

Faeez said...

Hi , alhamdulillah. Thks for dropping by. It's 75g, but 75g & 75 ml are actually abt the same. Good luck with yr baking. Just dont give up, practice makes perfect!

Michelle said...

If i would like to make a chocolate flavour cupcake with such moist texture you got for your pandan flavour, may i use this recipe and omit the coconut milk and replace the pandan juice with 2 tbsp of cocoa powder.

Thank you.

Faeez said...

Hi Michelle, I believe you can. I would use regular milk to replace the coconut milk & water in the recipe. And if you want to add cocoa powder, reduce the amount of flour by the same amt of cocoa u used. So if u use 20g of cocoa powder, use only 180g of flour. Hope this info helps.:)

Unknown said...

hi, is it 75g coconut milk and 25g coconut water or regular water?

Faeez said...

Hi Vinn, it's regular water, not coconut water.

Anonymous said...


For the vanilla paste/vanilla essence what is the measurement unit? Is it 1/2 teaspoon(tsp)?


Faeez said...

Hi, yes it's 1/2 tsp. Thnks for your question. I've inserted the missing word.

Anonymous said...

Hi, may i know when do i add the pandan juice and green colouring? and how much green colouring is recommended?

Faeez said...

Hi, mix the pandan juice & green colour with coconut milk. Sorry, I missed that step. I've already updated it. The amount of colouring used depends on the brand of colouring & your preference on how green you want your cake to be.

mama dee said...

Thanks for the great recipe. I'd tried it..n it turned out really well. You can visit the post on my blog here

Anonymous said...

For the meringue, do i whisk it while its still hot/warm? Thanks

Unknown said...

Hi, do i proportion the coconut milk accordingly if i am making 6 cupcakes like 35ml instead of 75ml?

Faeez said...

Hi anonymous,
Yes, whisk it while it's still warm.

Faeez said...

Hi Mabel,
Yes, if you are making 6 medium cakes, you need to half all the ingredients, including the coconut milk. 35ml of it is fine.

Unknown said...

Hi how.long does the cupcakes last for room temp and refrigerate? Just a bit worried with the coconut milk on it... thanks

Faeez said...

Hi Camela,
If you use coconut milk from the box, you need not worry as the milk is already pasteuriised. I made for a gathering & left the frosted cakes in room temperature for 1 & 1/2 days, they were still good. I would store them in the fridge at the end of second day. Hope this info helps. :)

Unknown said...

Hi there! thanks for posting this! Looks so delicious :) Do you suppose I can just use pandan extract instead of pandan leaves?

Anonymous said...

Salam Kak Faeez. I made it last week. Alhamdulilah every body likes it. Wonderful recipe! TQ so much:)

Faeez said...

Hi Cherie,
Sorry for the late reply, yes you can use pandan extract instead of the leaves.

The Princess said...

Hi, i tried the pandas cake recipe however my cake texture doesn't seem as crumbly as yours. Mine rather dense and texture like kuey... What do you think I could have done wrong?

Faeez said...

Hi Princess,
Oohh, if the texture is like kuih, there's definitely something wrong. First of all, check your ingredients. Also, when making cake, do not overmix after adding the eggs & especially when folding in the flour, just mix gently. Don't give up, just try again.

daydreamer said...

Hi Faeez,
I tried the recipe with slight changes. The cake and frosting turned out beautifully! So yummy that I had to stop myself from over-indulgence!

Faeez said...

Hi Meg,
Thank you for trying.. I know right..., it can be very addictive. Thank you for the shoutout. :)

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