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Pandan – Macapuno Cake

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A cake always means a celebration in our family. We’re celebrating  exciting events this weekend : my son’s college graduation, Father’s day, my birthday, my blogs’ anniversaries and one of the sweetest things to happen – a nice shout out from Gourmet Live .Yes, THE Gourmet Live came to visit my blogs to feature mine as “Food Blog of the Week” ! Thank you, Gourmet Live !

Right away, I must apologize for not showing the entire cake photo. This Pandan Cake was so divine that we ate it all up and nearly forgot to take photos for the blog. Pandan-flavored desserts are family favorites. My sons drive back home for nearly 70 miles to have a slice of this cake, or the “buko-pandan” desserts I make.

To the unfamiliar, Pandan (say “pan-dan”) also known as screwpine is a tropical palm-like plant. Its leaves are long, blade-like, green, slim and shiny. It is a plant that is common in the tropics or the Pacific, according to our Wikipedia friends. The pandan is very versatile and used often in Asian cooking. The pandan can further enhance a dish if paired with coconut or curry.  We cook it in rice, cook seafood with it, make iced tea from it, bake desserts with it. You’ll experience a fragrant, delicate aroma and savor a delightful almond-like sweet flavor from it.

I have such sweet memories of pandan .Growing up, I remember my parents cooked boiled rice with pandan leaves on top of it and the sweet aroma of the steam coming from the boiling pot was unforgettable. During a culinary heritage tour of the Pampanga province, back in the Philippines, I was treated to a most thirst-quenching and refreshing tall glass of Pandan iced tea at the home of heritage cooking authority Lillian Borromeo.

While traveling in Manila recently, I found a wonderful Pandan cake recipe in a beautiful cookbook called “Bake Me a Cake” by Ginny Roces de Guzman. And a greater treat was when I found out that one of my Besa nieces, Tina Besa, was part of the author’s terrific team that designed the book. Hurray for the creative talents in our family!

I lost no time in baking from this cookbook. I was mesmerized by the marvelous photos of so many familiar cakes I used to bake when I lived in Manila. Finally, I had a good resource for replicating old baked favorites, most especially the Pandan cake.

This cake is based on a basic sponge cake recipe. The original recipe suggests boiling some pandan leaves and using the water from it to flavor the sponge cake. I tried that and it gave us a delicate, tender flavor and aroma. Then I baked the same recipe again, this time using the bottled pandan flavoring essence, which I got from the Asian grocery. Both ways, it was undeniably good. Which ones do I make more often? It depends. Yes, it depends on the pandan leaves availability. The best I can manage is buying the frozen pandan leaves from the Asian grocery’s freezer section. Either way, the pandan cake remains a constant hit at home.

As I type this, a second Pandan cake is baking in the oven. It will travel 70+ miles. I am bringing it to my sons to celebrate a college graduation, my birthday and Father’s day. By the time you read this, we will have sliced the cake and celebrated together many blessings and happy memories .

Of course, we, in the family are great fans of cake frosting. The frosting on this cake was a medley of heavy cream, whipped cream, confectioners’ sugar and laced with pandan bottled extract. The piece de resistance was a wallop of sweet Macapuno strings (also called “coconut sport”) to further drive home the dessert’s decadence. Is there any doubt now why my sons travel far to come home to this cake?

Graduation greetings: We proudly congratulate our son, Constante, who graduates from Drexel University, Class 2012, BA Communications & Global Journalism, minor in Sociology,  magna cum laude. 

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5 from 1 vote

Pandan-Macapuno Cake

This Pandan- Macapuno cake with a creamy coconut -pandan frosting is based on a basic sponge cake recipe. The original recipe suggests boiling some pandan leaves and using the water from it to flavor the sponge cake. I tried that and it gave us a delicate, tender flavor and aroma. Then I baked the same recipe again, this time using the bottled pandan flavoring essence. Both ways, the pandan cake remains a constant hit at home.*
Notes on Pandan
: Cookbook author, Ginny Roces de Guzman refers to pandan as the “vanilla” of the east for the fragrance and flavor its elongated blade-like leaves impart to both sweet and savory dishes. She further suggests wrapping, tying and lining pans with pandan leaves for an intense hue and unique flavor. Recipe adapted from the cookbook “Bake Me a Cake” by Ginny Roces de Guzman.
Cook Time55 minutes
Total Time55 minutes
Course: Dessert, Merienda, Snacks
Cuisine: American, Asian, Filipino
Keyword: Pandan Macapuno Sponge Cake
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 554kcal
Author: Asian in America - Elizabeth Ann Quirino


  • Electric cake mixer


  • 3/4 cup cake flour
  • teaspoons teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 whole eggs, separate egg whites; separate 3 yolks for the batter;
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon pandan bottled extract
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 drop green food color
  • 2 cups heavy cream, for frosting
  • 1 cup whipped cream for frosting
  • 3/4 cup confectioner's sugar for frosting
  • 2 Tablespoons pandan bottled extract for frosting
  • 1 cup bottled sweet macapuno strings or for frosting
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar for eggyolks in batter
  • 3 egg yolks, separated from the whites, for batter


  • Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees. Grease the bottom of a 9-inch round tube cake pan or line with parchment paper.
  • Sift the cake flour, salt, baking powder together in a bowl. Set aside.
  • Separate the eggs into two mixing bowls.  In a mixer, using the wire whisk attachment beat the 6 egg whites first. Add the cream of tartar at the start of beating. Beat at low speed first. When it starts to foam up, increase speed to medium. When bubbles are finer, slowly add the 1/3 cup sugar. Beat at high speed till shiny and soft peaks form. Remove this bowl and work on the egg yolks.
  • Using the same wire whisk attachment, beat the 3 yolks on medium speed until thick and light colored. Add the 3/4 cup granulated sugar in two parts. Lower the speed and pour the pandan extract with water.
  • Fold in the sifted dry ingredients by hand. Do not use the mixer for this step.
  • Once the yolk mixture is incorporated well, start folding slowly one fourth of the egg whites into the yolks. Gradually add the egg whites, folding slowly each time. I do the folding in three parts. Be careful not to deflate the mix when folding in. But take care in thoroughly mixing the whites or a heavy, gumy bottom layer can form.
  • Ladle the cake batter into the greased pan. Bake at 350 F for 55 minutes if using a tube pan.
  • Test cake for doneness. When done, remove the cake from the oven. Invert tube pan onto a cake rack. Let the cake cool completely before frosting.
  • To prepare frosting : At high speed in a mixer, using a wire whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream till stiff. This should take 8 to 10 minutes. Then add the whipped cream and beat for 5 minutes more. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar and the pandan extract.
  • Keep the frosting in the refrigerator first, while the pandan cake is cooling on the rack. Be patient. Do not frost the cake if it is still hot. Wait at least 2 hours or more for cake to cool completely.
  • Frost cake with the cream frosting. Top with the bottled macapuno strings. Chill cake till ready to serve. Keep cake in the refrigerator or freezer to store.
  • *To make Pandan water : If pandan leaves are available and you prefer to use them, wash 4 or 5 pandan leaves and tie into a loose knot at the end. The knot is made to make it easy to remove the leaves after boiling. Put the leaves in a small saucepan and cover with ¾ cup water. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Leave in the water to cool. Measure out ¼ cup of the water for the pandan sponge cake.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 554kcal | Carbohydrates: 66g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 20g | Cholesterol: 116mg | Sodium: 129mg | Potassium: 110mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 52g | Vitamin A: 1235IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 64mg | Iron: 1mg

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  1. Your Pandan cake looks fab. So happy you’re trying out the recipes with very good results.

    1. Hi Ginny! I’m so honored the author herself of “Bake Me A Cake” stopped by 🙂 Yes, this Pandan Cake was a hit and I look forward to baking more of cakes from your wonderful cookbook. Thanks for giving us such great recipes! Cheers!

  2. Congratulations to you and your family on so many counts. Your sons college grad, your birthday, blog anniversaries and The Queen’s Notebook being featured!
    This cake, I love the colour and while I’ve never eaten Pandan Cake it looks wonderful and that topping is amazing.

    1. Thanks, Paula. You will love the pandan flavor if you give it a try. It has a delicate, sweet almond-like taste and aroma. My cake isn’t as gorgeous as your baked beauties, though. So if you ever get to try a pandan cake, yours will be magnificent!

  3. I have had pandan cake so many times here in Hong Kong and love the taste and COLOUR each time. You cake turned out to be of the right texture and I loved your stewise explanation. Congratulations on your son’s graduation, blogoversaries and all other good things happening to your life!

  4. Hello…..congratulations to your son and to the proud parents!

    Re this recipe, I was just wondering how much sugar should be added to the egg yolks, since the 1/3 cup was already added to the whites.

    Thank you for sharing your recipe.

    1. Hi Grace. Thanks for pointing out an error of omission. I did not specify that 3/4 cup granulated sugar is needed for the egg yolks and I’ve made the correction in the recipe. This was a great cake and I hope you enjoy it as well. Let me know how your cake turns out and if I can help with anything. Thanks for the blog-visit and kind congrats to my son!

  5. I am wondering if this cake doesnt need an oil since this recipe is a sponge cake. I have a homemade macapuno sweets now and im dying to bake a cake with a macapuno on it, and i find your recipe so awesome and lovely.

    1. Hi Ellen! This cake was moist and rose well, without needing any oil in the batter. Ginny Roces de Guzman created a great recipe and I followed hers from the cookbook faithfully. The macapuno frosting was my own addition and you’re right, it was awesome. Thanks for the blog visit, hope you get to try this cake – if so let me know how it turns out 🙂

  6. Hi, how about if I use the natural pandan leaves from the recipe instead of the ready made? Is one cup okey for one leaf? Thank you

  7. Hi, how about if I use the natural pandan leaves from the recipe instead of the ready made? Is one cup of water okey for two leaves? Thank you.

    1. Hi Shau, as I indicated in the instructions above “To make Pandan water” use 4 to 5 knotted leaves boiled in 3/4 cup water. This is what the cookbook author suggested. If you only have one pandan leaf, try half of the amount of water, but make sure leaf is covered with water when boiling. Hope this helps you. Thanks for stopping by.

    1. Hi Jennifer. Yes, you can use this same recipe to bake cupcakes or use other cake pans other than what is mentioned here. For cupcakes, lessen the baking time and bake for 25 to 28 minutes. Test with a toothpick to check if it is done.

  8. Hi i bake your recipie of the buko pandan. It turn out nice the taste the texture but it sunk in the middle. It was alright but when i open the oven to check it sunk. It was still manageble to frost. What did i do wrong. But the taste was good. Ill try to bake it again.

    1. Hi Tonietta! Thanks for visiting the blog and trying this pandan cake recipe. There are many reasons why a cake shrinks in the middle. Some of these could be:
      1. old baking powder – shelf life is about 6 months to 1 year.
      2.a) using too much baking powder – follow the exact amount on the recipe.
      b) Do not mistake baking powder for baking soda. One is different from the other.
      3. over-beating the cake — notice the recipe procedure indicates “folding” the whites into the yolks mixture. Try doing that gently by hand.
      4. Oven temperature – follow the recipe’s oven temperature. If you have one, try to use an external oven thermometer to measure the heat.
      5. Don’t wait too long – as soon as you’re done mixing the cake batter, put it in the pre-heated oven right away to bake.
      6. Pre-heating the oven is important.
      This recipe has worked well for me personally if I am careful to “fold” the whites into the yolks when mixing. Good luck to you. I hope you try baking it again with better results. Let me know how it turns out.

  9. Hi! For the icing, can I just omit the whipped cream? The heavy cream is also known as whipping cream. SO I am confused here. When you say whipped cream, do you mean the frozen one? Thanks! I intend to make this cake this weekend.

    1. Hi Cecilia, for this recipe I used both the whipped cream and heavy cream because I wanted to make sure the frosting would hold up & especially because I was traveling with this cake that day. Heavy cream can be whipped by using a cake mixer into a firm consistency if you’d like to use it solely. I purchased my heavy cream in a milk carton (generic brand) from my neighborhood supermarket. Whipped cream ( I use the brand Reddi Whip) has a slightly less fat content and can be whipped into peaks that stand up. Hope this info helps. Good luck and enjoy the cake!

  10. Thank you for the recipe. Your cake looks delicious. Can you clarify… The recipe calls for 9 eggs total or just 6 eggs (using only the 3 yolks and all whites)?

  11. 5 stars
    Hi! I am in the middle of making this Pandan Cake using frozen pandan leaves from the asian store. How much water should I use with the pandan leaves for the frosting? I used 1/4 cup of water for the cake.

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