10-Minute Kaya (I)

toast sandwiched with kaya and butter
Making kaya the old way takes 2-3 hours of stirring.

I greatly admire patience, dedication and tenacity but sadly these are virtues I don't possess. So I make kaya the quick way, in 10 minutes.

What's the difference between quickie and longie kaya?

Traditional kaya is made with whole eggs, coconut milk, sugar and pandan leaves. The ingredients are cooked till thick, and the sugar caramelized.
bowl of freshly made kaya
Kaya made with whole eggs has to be cooked at a very low temperature. That's why it's heated over a water bath, and it has to be stirred continuously. High temperatures would turn egg whites lumpy and ruin the kaya.

Gentle heat is great for cooking egg whites but not caramelizing sugar. Sitting in an ocean of coconut milk, over a water-bath, sugar takes hours to brown.

Thickening kaya over gentle heat also takes hours. Kaya needs to hit 80-85ºC to get the right consistency. Doing that over a water-bath is just a royal pain.

Now you see why making kaya the old way, with whole eggs, takes hours of dedicated stirring?

The hard labour may be easily avoided by doing 2 things:

1. Omit the egg whites. That allows the kaya to be cooked at a high temperature over direct heat, without a water bath.

2. Replace some of the white sugar with palm sugar, which has a lovely caramel fragrance as it is. There's no need to caramelize it.

My simple re-engineering slashes the cooking time from a few hours to 10-15 minutes. Making kaya is a royal pain no more. Hallelujah!

Imagine smothering your morning toast with kaya that's full of the fragrance of fresh coconut milk, palm sugar and pandan. It's not cloyingly sweet, and there's a generous slice of butter on the toast.

Kaya toast may be eaten as it is. Or it may be dipped in soft-boiled eggs seasoned with dark soya sauce and ground white pepper. Of course, a full Singapore breakfast isn't complete without coffee.

How to make kaya in 10 minutes

Step-by-step guide

Rich and fragrant, kaya is a delectable jam made with coconut milk and eggs. It makes toast worth waking up for! Making kaya takes only 10 minutes with my recipe. The traditional way takes 2-3 hours of constant stirring!

toast sandwiched with kaya and butter
  • 45 g sugar
  • 45 g palm sugar
  • 200 ml undiluted fresh coconut milk
  • 4 young, light green pandan leaves – wash and cut 5 cm long
  • 4 yolks – make sure there's no egg white at all
🥪 Related post: tips for making full kaya breakfast.

  1. Cook sugar, palm sugar, coconut milk and pandan leaves over medium heat, stirring constantly, till just starting to simmer gently. Turn off heat.

  2. Stir egg yolks and, at the same time, slowly add half of coconut milk mixture. Next, pour all of egg mixture into remaining coconut milk in one go. Over medium heat, cook combined mixture till slightly thickened, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low. Continue stirring till mixture is thick enough to coat sides of pot thickly. Turn off heat.

  3. Taste and add more sugar if necessary. Discard pandan leaves. Transfer kaya to a bowl or bottle. Leave till completely cool. Cover. Refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving if you want a softer, squidgy consistency. Kaya may be stored for 1 week, chilled.