History Of Pandan Cake

Pandan cake, also known as pandan chiffon cake, is a popular dessert with a rich history deeply rooted in Southeast Asia. This delightful treat features a vibrant green hue and a fragrant aroma, thanks to its main ingredient, the pandan leaf.

pandan cake
pandan cake

The Cultural Significance of Pandan Leaves

Pandan leaves, known botanically as Pandanus amaryllifolius, are long, slender leaves commonly found in tropical regions.

The leaves possess a distinct aroma that is both sweet and floral, which is highly valued in Southeast Asian cuisines.

They are often used in a variety of dishes, such as rice, curries, and desserts, including the beloved pandan cake.

Pandan Cake’s Origins in Southeast Asia

The exact origins of pandan cake are difficult to trace, as the cake has been enjoyed in various forms throughout Southeast Asia for centuries.

However, it is believed to have originated in countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. The ingenious use of pandan leaves in culinary creations led to the birth of this unique and delicious cake.

Traditional Recipe and Ingredients

Key Ingredients of Pandan Cake

The traditional pandan cake recipe typically calls for a handful of essential ingredients. These include pandan leaf extract, eggs, sugar, flour, baking powder, coconut milk, and vegetable oil.

The pandan leaf extract gives the cake its vibrant green color and delightful fragrance, while the other ingredients work together to create its light and airy texture.

Traditional Preparation Methods

To make a pandan cake, the pandan leaves are usually blended with water to extract their essence. The resulting liquid is then incorporated into the cake batter.

The eggs, sugar, flour, baking powder, coconut milk, and vegetable oil are combined with the pandan extract to create a smooth batter. The cake is typically baked in a tube pan or chiffon cake pan to achieve its characteristic shape.

Spread of Pandan Cake

Pandan Cake’s Popularity in Southeast Asia

Over the years, pandan cake has become an integral part of Southeast Asian culinary traditions. It is widely enjoyed in countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and the Philippines.

Pandan cake is often served during festive occasions, such as weddings, birthdays, and religious celebrations. Its soft and fragrant texture, coupled with its vibrant green color, makes it a visually appealing and delightful treat that is loved by people of all ages.

Introduction to Other Countries

With globalization and increased cultural exchange, pandan cake has made its way beyond Southeast Asia and gained popularity in other parts of the world. The unique flavors and enticing aroma of pandan cake have caught the attention of international food enthusiasts and chefs.

In countries like the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom, pandan cake can now be found in specialty Asian bakeries, multicultural markets, and even high-end dessert establishments. Its growing presence reflects the global appreciation for diverse culinary experiences and the willingness to explore new flavors.

Variations and Innovations

Unique Regional Adaptations

As pandan cake has traveled across borders and integrated into different culinary traditions, it has undergone various regional adaptations. Each country puts its own twist on the traditional recipe, resulting in unique flavor profiles and presentations.

For instance, in Malaysia, pandan cake is often paired with kaya, a coconut jam, to create a delightful combination of flavors.

In the Philippines, a popular variation called “pandan macapuno cake” incorporates macapuno, a sweet coconut sport, into the cake batter. These regional adaptations add diversity to the pandan cake family and showcase the creativity of local chefs and bakers.

Contemporary Twists on the Traditional Recipe

In addition to regional adaptations, modern chefs and bakers have also taken pandan cake to new heights by infusing it with contemporary flavors and techniques. They experiment with ingredients such as chocolate, matcha, or mango, creating fusion desserts that blend traditional pandan cake with other popular flavors.

Moreover, some innovative chefs have transformed pandan cake into bite-sized treats like cupcakes or cake pops, making it more accessible and convenient for casual snacking or parties. These contemporary twists on the traditional recipe contribute to the evolving landscape of pandan cake and keep it relevant in today’s culinary scene.

Pandan Cake in Modern Culture

Pandan Cake as a Symbol of Heritage

Pandan cake holds a special place in the cultural heritage of Southeast Asia. It is more than just a dessert; it represents the rich culinary traditions and shared experiences of the region’s diverse communities.

The cake’s presence in family gatherings, celebrations, and special occasions brings people together, creating lasting memories and reinforcing cultural identity.

Its Presence in Celebrations and Events

Pandan cake’s popularity extends beyond individual households and has become a staple in larger celebrations and events.

It is often featured in food festivals, culinary competitions, and international exhibitions, where it showcases the region’s culinary prowess and captures the attention of food enthusiasts from around the world.

Moreover, pandan cake is frequently incorporated into menus at hotels, resorts, and fine dining establishments, both in Southeast Asia and beyond. Its inclusion in these prestigious venues highlights its status as a beloved dessert that has achieved recognition in the culinary world.

Pandan Cake’s Global Recognition

International Recognition and Appreciation

As pandan cake continues to gain popularity, it has garnered international recognition as a unique and delicious dessert. Food critics, bloggers, and culinary experts have praised its delicate texture, fragrant aroma, and harmonious flavors.

In recent years, pandan cake has been featured in various international media outlets and cooking shows, further elevating its profile.

Its vibrant green color and distinct taste have made it a sought-after dessert for those seeking to explore different cultural cuisines and indulge in new gastronomic experiences.

Pandan Cake in the Culinary World

Beyond its popularity among food enthusiasts, pandan cake has also found its place in the professional culinary world. Renowned chefs and

bakers have embraced pandan cake as a versatile ingredient for creating innovative and visually stunning desserts. Its unique flavor profile and vibrant green color make it a versatile component in cakes, pastries, ice creams, and even beverages.

In fine dining establishments, pandan cake is often showcased as part of elegant dessert tasting menus or as a standalone dessert course. Its presence in such establishments highlights the recognition of pandan cake as a sophisticated and refined dessert that can hold its own among other culinary masterpieces.


Is pandan cake gluten-free?

No, traditional pandan cake recipes typically contain wheat flour, which contains gluten. However, gluten-free variations of pandan cake can be made using alternative flours such as rice flour or gluten-free baking mixes.

Can I substitute pandan leaves with pandan extract in the recipe?

Yes, if fresh pandan leaves are not available, pandan extract can be used as a substitute. However, keep in mind that the flavor might differ slightly, as the extract is more concentrated.

What gives pandan cake its vibrant green color?

The vibrant green color of pandan cake comes from the natural pigments present in the pandan leaves. When blended with water or extracted into a liquid form, the vibrant green color is infused into the cake batter.

Can I freeze pandan cake for later consumption?

Yes, pandan cake can be frozen for future enjoyment. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or place it in an airtight container before freezing. Thaw the cake at room temperature before serving.

Where can I find pandan cake outside of Southeast Asia?

Pandan cake can be found in specialty Asian bakeries, multicultural markets, and online stores that offer international ingredients and desserts. You may also find variations or adaptations of pandan cake in high-end dessert establishments that explore global culinary influences.


The history of pandan cake is a testament to the rich culinary heritage of Southeast Asia. From its origins in countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines to its global recognition, pandan cake has captured the hearts and palates of people around the world. Its vibrant green color, fragrant aroma, and delicate texture make it a beloved dessert that symbolizes cultural identity, celebration, and culinary creativity.

I'm Jennifer Tirrell, a self-taught baker, and founder of CakeRe. As an experienced baker and recipe publisher, I have spent over a decade working in the kitchen and have tried and tested countless baking tools and products. From classic cakes to creative twists, I've got you covered. So grab your apron and let's get baking!

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