Hidden Pandan Heart Cake – Recipe

This is probably a bit pathetically "meta", but when I realised that I had scheduled to make a hidden pandan heart cake bang on Valentine's day by pure coincidence, I almost decided to make something else. Luckily I decided to not be so pathetic and just went ahead with it.

I'm not viciously against Valentine's day- I'm just not particularly for it. "Ah, but you'd see it different if you weren't single," I hear you cry. Actually... nope. Even in a relationship I felt like it was a bit of a forced holiday. After all, isn't it so much nicer when your other half surprises you just because they felt like it, rather than because they felt like they have to? On a similar vein, why should my family miss out on a cute and delicious hidden heart cake just because I'm not keen on Valentine's day?

This cake is basically a cream cheese pound cake with pandan-flavoured cream cheese pound cake hearts in the centre. It seems plain, and it is- but this cake tastes so, so amazing plain, and proves that sometimes simple is best. The glaze itself is a simple cream cheese glaze, as nothing else should be messing with the deliciousness that is this cake. As you can imagine, it almost physically hurt me to use so little colour in this recipe as I was making it- but I'm so glad I didn't mess with it in the end: it needs nothing else.

This recipe is really easy, which makes a nice change from the crazy entremets and tempered chocolate projects I've been doing lately. All you need to do is make two cakes, each in a different colour (and in my case flavour- plain and pandan): you bake one first, cut out heart shapes, stack the heart shapes into rows and bake them in the middle of your second cake. It's as easy as that, I promise. For the pandan heart centre I used one of my favourite ingredients: pandan paste.

It has the lovely fragrance and flavour of pandan as well as a wickedly green hue- but you can use any flavours and colours you like. Got some strawberry flavouring and pink food colouring? Perfect! Orange oil and orange colouring? Also good! Got time to make rainbow hearts with lots of colours? Actually that's... pretty awesome, please do that. In fact I think you can find a tutorial for how to do that on the interwebs- but for now, let's stick with green pandan.

One more thing- my old oven has been very temperamental recently, and half the stuff I've been making has come out underbaked (including tried and tested recipes I've been using for years...) I think I may need to get myself a hanging thermometer, at least until I can get my hands on a new oven. In any case, the cakes did come out a bit doughy- particularly the pandan one. Sad times. It still tasted great, though- just dense. As long as your oven is keeping good temperature, this recipe will work.

Let's go!

Pound Cake Ingredients for Pandan Hearts:

-125g unsalted butter, softened
-115g cream cheese (full fat, low fat is too watery and besides, is no fun at all)
-200g caster sugar
-3 eggs
-145g plain flour
-A good pinch of salt
-1tsp baking powder
-2tsp pandan paste

Ingredients for Main Pound Cake:

-170g unsalted butter, softened
-225g cream cheese (full fat, low fat is too watery and besides, is no fun at all)
-250g caster sugar
-4 eggs
-260g plain flour
-A good pinch of salt
-1.5tsp baking powder
-2tsp vanilla extract

Ingredients for Glaze:

-200g icing sugar
-1tbsp cream cheese
-2-3tbsp milk (depending on how thick you like the icing)


1) Make the pandan pound cake first. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C and grease and flour a loaf tin

2) Cream the butter, cream cheese and sugar together until light and fluffy and whisk in the eggs until well combined

3) Whisk in the flour, baking powder, salt and pandan paste, pour into the tin and bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean (seems like a long time, but since it's a thick loaf cake it'll take longer than a couple of sandwich cakes to bake through the middle)

4) Leave to cool completely, slice into pieces as thick as the cutter you're going to use and cut out a load of hearts with a biscuit cutter (use up as much of the cake as possible so you have a few spare hearts to work with, just in case)

I got four hearts per slice with my mini cutter- also this is what slightly underbaked looks like...

5) Place the hearts on a tray and freeze them for an hour or so to make them easier to work with for the next stage (also bag up your cake scraps and freeze them too- they'll make awesome cake pops or trifle another time, to name a few ideas)

6) Make the main pound cake in exactly the same way, but this time put the cake batter in the tin a little differently: scoop about a third into the tin and smooth flat. Now stack up a line of frozen cake hearts  and nestle in the centre of the tin (but don't push them all they way down to the bottom). Make sure the row is off to one side. If you have a gap at the end, cut a thinner slice off of one of your spare hearts so you can really pack them in- the tighter they are, the less likely they are to shift when baking

7) Cover the hearts with another third of cake batter, and repeat the process on the other side of the tin

8) Cover with most of the remainder of the cake batter: if you have enough hearts left, reserve a couple of tablespoonfuls of batter and make a third row of hearts wherever you like, pushing them a little further into the batter until just the tops are peaking out. Now cover with your reserved batter and smooth out

9) Bake for 70-90 minutes (cover with foil if you think it's getting too brown to stop the top from burning)

10) Leave to cool completely again before removing from the tin

Ooh, exciting!

11) Mix the icing ingredients together, spread over the top of your cake, slice and serve!

And aways check your oven temperatures...


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