For the most part, breakfast in my household was monotonous and rapid. I lived in a children’s cereal free zone and my parents didn’t really believe in bacon & egg sandwiches - having grown up in Singapore, they fed me what was familiar for them - a traditional local breakfast of runny eggs and kaya toast. One of my earliest breakfast memories was centered around wolfing down a glass of warm (microwaved) milk and a piece of bread, scraped with butter and kaya (a staple condiment in Southeast Asia, essentially a coconut jam) before primary school in the morning.
Pandan is a flavour that is essential to many Southeast Asian cuisines and dishes, including kaya. The leaves are either used fresh or in the form of an extract very similar to how a vanilla bean would be to add fragrance to both sweet and savoury dishes. Both my grandmothers used pandan leaves to cook various staple dishes such as Hainanese Chicken Rice, steamed kueh (desserts made with rice/rice flour) and Pandan Chiffon Cake.
This recipe is a play on the Pandan-forward and coconut focused flavour profile that was so familiar to me growing up. I prefer a crumblier cake, so instead of going the traditional chiffon route, I took these refreshing, tropical flavours and took some inspiration from my Mum’s original raspberry coconut blondies recipe. Using fresh (or defrosted) pandan leaves is always ideal, but good quality extracts are available in most Asian grocers, and it will still give your cake a heavy pandan fragrance, as well as a bright, green colour. This recipe tastes like home to me because I find it to be the perfect balance between a familiar baked treat, elevated with a flavour profile that is so nostalgic and essential to my heritage.