Kaya Cake – coconut, pandan, cumquat

So it appears I have a thing for tortes/layer-cakes/whatever-you-wanna-call-em now. First it was macarons, now these. Maybe it’s because I like the thought of an adaptable recipe that splices several components, for which you can have a different flavour. This time it’s coconut dacquoise, pandan crème mousseline and whipped cream, with candied cumquats on top, and cumquat syrup to keep it all moist (yes, it’s cumquat season again).

cake layerinside layer

top layerta-dah~

Speaking of candied cumquats, have y’all read Robin Hobb (bit of a non sequitur…)? Love her. I found the Farseer Trilogy and devoured that, as well as the Tawny Man Trilogy back when I was a wee grade 8, 9 or 10. The books sort of run together 😛 Anyway, I was interested in the apricot brandy mentioned there. Anyone had apricot brandy before? Anyone like it? In this recipe, you could always replace the cumquat with apricots, is all I’m saying… anyway. Nevermind xD

come to me, come-quat

About the pandan crème mousseline filling: Crème mousseline, also known as German Buttercream, is basically pastry cream, beaten with butter. What this means is that you can have a liquid-y pastry cream made with milk, and it’ll still be solid. It’s a lot richer than French, Swiss and Italian buttercreams, but more eggy than American buttercreams. It’s very, very indulgent. If you want, you can replace the milk in the pastry cream with fruit purée; just make sure to adjust the sugar 🙂

Also, if you’re getting lumps of butter when mixing it with the cream, just zap it quickly in the microwave to soften it.

Can you see the lumps?

And remember to push the cake batter into the corners, and to try and make it as even as possible. What is dacquoise, I hear you say? Well, technically it’s a dessert unto itself, with layers of meringue and cream. But when you read recipes, the recipes refer to the cake/meringue-part of the desert as the dacquoise. Furthermore, it’s a bit more than a meringue; you’ll notice that it has ground nuts (and coconut) as well as the egg and sugar. So really, it’s meringue-based.

Other names for this meringue + ground nuts recipe are Swiss broyage, japonais, succès, grilage (German, semi-frozen), and russe. Whatever floats your boat. You’ll notice that the recipe is also very similar to that of a macaron.

Don't be afraid to be pushy

And of course, I stabilised the whipped cream with gelatine and icing sugar.


Coconut, pandan, cumquat cake

  • Servings: 16
  • Difficulty: easy, but tedious
  • Print


  • 200g almond meal
  • 60g flour
  • 240g icing sugar
  • 300g (approx. 9ea) egg white
  • 135g sugar
  • 100g desiccated/shredded coconut (if you want it less stringy, blend it in a food processor)
  1. Sift together the ground nuts, flour and icing sugar.
  2. Stir in the coconut.
  3. Whip the egg white and sugar to stiff peaks (you may use salt, lemon juice or cream of tartar as stabilisers).
  4. Fold the dry ingredients into the egg, in batches.
  5. Pour into 2 tins, 20 × 20cm.
  6. Bake at 150°C for 15 minutes, until the cakes begin to turn slightly golden.
  7. Cool completely on wire racks.

Crème mousseline

  • 300mL cream
  • 130g sugar
  • 6 yolks (approx. 100g)
  • 1/4 cup cornflour
  • 1.5mL pandan extract (or paste, to taste)
  • Approx. 280g butter, softened
  1. With a beater, whip the sugar and yolk to thick ribbons.
  2. Mix in the cornflour.
  3. Bring the cream to a boil.
  4. Stir the hot cream into the yolk mixture.
  5. Pour yolks back into the pot and, stirring, bring to boil for 45 seconds (or until it no longer tastes floury).
  6. Cool, with clingwrap over the top to prevent a skin forming.
  7. Measure the pastry cream volume.
  8. Mix the pastry cream and butter in a ratio of 4:3 or 2:1.
  9. Add pandan and food colouring.

Cumquats and syrup

  • Cumquats
  • Water
  • Sugar
  1. Squeeze the juice from the cumquats – reserve the juice.
  2. Boil the skins in water until pulp is soft and easily-removed.
  3. Measure out enough juice to cover the cumquat skins (add water if you don’t have enough).
  4. Measure out an equal volume of sugar to the water/juice (this is called a simple syrup).
  5. Simmer the skins, juice and sugar until skins are tender and semi-translucent, and sugar is fully dissolved.
  6. Drain the skins, reserving the syrup.
  7. Toss the skins in sugar to dry.
  8. Refrigerate.


  • 300mL cream
  • 30g icing sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp gelatine
  • 1 Tbs water
  1. Stir the water and gelatine together.
  2. Stir the cream, sugar and vanilla together gently.
  3. Whip the cream to soft peaks.
  4. Zap the gelatine in the microwave for 10 seconds or until the gelatin has fully melted.
  5. While whipping the cream, pour the gelatin into the cream and whip to stiff peaks.
  6. Use immediately.


  1. Put a cake down.
  2. Spread liberally with cumquat syrup.
  3. Spread on a crumb coat of pandan.
  4. Spread on more pandan to an appropriate thickness.
  5. Place the second cake on top.
  6. Spread on the cream.
  7. Decorate with candied cumquats, cream chocolate, etc.


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