Kaya Toast

Kaya Toast

I have to say that I’m pretty chuffed about this post.

Thanks to Susan Feniger and her appearance on Top Chef Masters, America is slowly beginning to discover the joys of my ultimate breakfast treat: Kaya Toast. While the version served in Feniger’s restaurant isn’t exactly authentic, I’m still pretty proud that one of Singapore’s national dishes made an appearance on primetime American TV. See how easy it is to stir my dormant, occasionally non-existent, patriotism?

Breakfast was the theme of this month’s Twitter lunch date, and it was the perfect opportunity to try my hand at recreating this favorite from home (one….out of 50 other dishes). A thick concoction of fresh eggs, coconut milk and sugar, infused with the heady scent of pandan leaves, kaya is served slathered between crisp slices of toast that hide a generous chunk of salted butter. Balancing out the calories are one or two soft-boiled eggs, drizzled with dark soya sauce and white pepper, all washed down with a cup of strong coffee.

Now that is the breakfast of champions.

It took a couple of tries to get my preferred consistency: thick, yet spreadable and highly capable of oozing out onto your fingers with an ambitious bite. After researching a host of recipes, it seems that there are two main ways of making the spread. The first, which is the Nyonya (Straits Chinese) method, involves heating then steaming the mixture for 1 to 2 hours to produce a thick, dense custard. The second, which I’ve used here, requires more attention and regular stirring in a double boiler, but delivers a spread similar to what you’d find at most coffeeshops in Singapore.

Homemade Kaya

Homemade Kaya

Makes about 2 cups/ 500 ml (based on this recipe from Madam Kwong’s kitchen)

Because Kaya employs a small range of ingredients, it’s essential that your eggs are at their freshest and your coconut milk is freshly squeezed (see Robyn’s post for tips on making your own coconut milk). It’s also best to use fresh Pandan (Screwpine) leaves, but previously frozen leaves work just fine too.

Ingredients

  • 5 large eggs
  • 7 ounces/ 200 grams white sugar
  • 10½ ounces/ 300 grams freshly squeezed coconut milk (if using canned milk, stir it well and pour it through a fine-mesh sieve before using to break up any lumps)
  • 2 pandan leaves, washed

Directions

  1. In a large heat-proof bowl, gently whisk the eggs, sugar and coconut milk together, stirring until all the egg whites have broken down and you have a smooth, consistently yellow liquid (like the image on the right below).
  2. Knot each pandan leaf and tear the ends of each leaf into strips to release the aromas. Place the leaves in the bowl.
  3. Set the bowl atop a pot of water over medium heat, stirring occasionally for 45 minutes. You should start to see little lumps form around the 25-minute mark, keep stirring, scraping the bottom of the bowl so that the custard doesn’t turn into scrambled eggs. The mixture is ready when it coats the back of a wooden spoon in a thick layer, and running your finger through the layer leaves a gap like this.
  4. Remove the bowl from heat and discard the pandan leaves. Press the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into another bowl and leave to cool before storing in sterilized jars. Kaya can keep, refrigerated, for up to a month.

Homemade Kaya

Don’t forget to check out the other breakfast treats from fellow lunchers:

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27 Comments

  1. Danielle

    @Asha: Your best bet would be to check out Vietnamese grocery stores, that’s where I get mine.

    @heavenwildfleur: I haven’t seen any recipes for kopitiam bread! I love those slices dipped in Milo 😉

    @Megan: Yes, it is like a curd, an aromatic one at that. How about some kaya-filled toaster tarts? *wink*

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  6. I’m pretty chuffed to see this post as well. My heart warms like a plate of piping hot chicken rice to see a recipe for kaya toast, haha. It’s so rare to see something from Singapore featured, and your gorgeous photos really does it justice. I’d take kaya over strawberry jam any day. 🙂

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