You know how it is when you take someone solid for granted just ’cos, well, they’re so dependable, slightly boring even, and they’ve been around forever? We’re kinda guilty of that — but replace the word ‘someone’ with ‘a tasty pandan chiffon cake’.
Bengawan Solo is arguably the most famous brand for pandan chiffon in Singapore — it popularised the cake since setting up shop in 1979, after all. It has been featured in countless publications and is the go-to bake for locals and tourists who want to bring a slice of Singapore overseas. In fact, mention pandan chiffon cake and you immediately think of Bengawan Solo. Just like how burgers bring to mind, um, McDonald’s.
Their cakes have an adequate pandan aroma from the fresh pandan leaf juice (no artificial flavouring, mind you, save for a bit of green colouring) and lemak coconut milk (not the packet stuff) used.
They’re no doubt a reliable source of comfort food, but they don’t necessarily cause our hearts to flutter.
So we picked smaller bakery chain Pure Pandan instead for our original list of nominees in our inaugural Eat Dirty Food Awards. The latter is a fave with foodies in our circle for its no-frills chiffon cakes, including its signature pandan flavour. Its texture is very airy with a soft bite, and the colour is a pale green. The brand also prides itself on using all-natural juice instead of synthetic pandan essence. And indeed, back when we sampled it months ago — it was pretty delish.
However, we recently did a second taste test of the offerings from all four nominees in our Eat Dirty Pandan Chiffon Cake category — plus Bengawan Solo’s rendition. We ate the cakes side-by-side. To our surprise, Pure Pandan fared poorly this time around. There was barely any whiff of pandan juice fragrance. In fact, it was rather bland. Meanwhile, as we bit into a piece from Bengawan, the difference in quality between the two was obvious. The latter boasted more depth of flavour: we could discern the full-bodied coconut milk and an obvious creamy note of pandan. It was just, how should we put it, more shiok.
So after some deliberation, we’ve decided to replace Pure Pandan with Bengawan Solo in our list of nominees.
Because for cakes, as with everything in life — especially if it’s edible — consistency is key.
Visit http://www.8days.sg/eatdirty to see the full list of our favourite pandan chiffon cakes in Singapore.