Coconut custard spread – otherwise known as kaya – is what I consider the jam of Southeast Asia. If you haven’t tried kaya before – it is creamy and easily spreadable in texture and fragrant with coconut and screwpine (pandan) flavours. When kids were tucking into sandwiches or toasts with PBJ in the US, marmalade or marmite in the UK and vegemite in Australia, we had kaya.
Kaya toast is what we enjoy having for breakfast or even as a snack whenever we’re back in Singapore. Thinly sliced crustless bread, lightly toasted and spread with kaya and a melting slab of butter – now that’s how we roll! It’s so popular that there are even kaya toast franchises all over Singapore – Ya Kun and Killiney Kopitiam…just to name a couple of the big boys.
Here’s a picture of a Ya Kun kaya toast meal – complete with soft boiled eggs and coffee. Oh my, I want some right now.
The good thing is that kaya is widely distributed across the globe, which means if I’m craving for some downunder, I’m not far from a store that sells it. However, one of the things my mum-in-law left behind from her last visit to Melbourne earlier this year, was her recipe for homemade kaya.
Unlike the store bought kaya, this version is not as sweet and the texture is not as processed. Kinda rustic and quite delish! Now I’ll share the recipe with you, but it was just me scrambling to jot down notes while mum was speeding through the process. Like any other home cook, mum’s recipe is all about estimation, so when I say medium bowl that can fill a dozen eggs, it means just that. I can’t give you any more detail than that!
My mum-in-law’s homemade kaya
12 large eggs (or fill up a medium size mixing bowl)
1 bowl of granulated sugar (same size bowl as the eggs)
1 x 270ml can of coconut cream
6 screwpine (pandan) leaves
1 tbsp of wheat flour, dissolved in 1 tbsp of water
1. In a medium metal mixing bowl or pot, beat eggs for about 2 minutes.
2. Cut up the screwpine leaves into small (about 2cm) pieces. Process the leaves in a food processor with 2 tbsp of water. Strain blended leaves through a clean muslin cloth. Squeeze the living daylights out of the pulp to get all the juices.
3. Add screwpine juice, sugar and coconut cream to the eggs. Place the pot or bowl in a water bath on simmer. Ensure the depth of water in the bath is level to the egg mixture in the bowl.
4. Simmer and stir the mixture gently and continuously until it is thickened. (About 20 – 25 minutes) Yes, elbow grease and patience is required.
5. Add wheat flour mixture to the custard, stir and cook for another 5 minutes.
6. Cool and store in jam jars or air tight containers.