10-Minute Kaya (I) | KitchenTigress

10-Minute Kaya (I)

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 kaya and longie? Is the quality compromised if you take 10 minutes instead of two hours?

Traditional kaya is made with 4 ingredients: whole eggs, coconut milk, sugar and pandan leaves.
bowl of freshly made kaya
Egg whites, being 90% water and 10% proteins, make the kaya less rich. To me, that's not a good thing, especially when "kaya" means rich.

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. If it were on its own in a pan over direct heat, caramelization would happen in minutes.

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.

3. Don't have palm sugar? Replace it with sugar caramelized in a pan over direct heat.

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 10-minute kaya
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!

kaya flowing from pot to bowl

  • 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
🥪 Wanna make a complete kaya toast breakfast? Click here.

  1. TO MAKE KAYA, 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 and refrigerate, for up to 1 week. Bring to room temperature before serving if you want a softer, squidgy consistency.

  4. TO MAKE KAYA TOAST THE TRADITIONAL WAY, grill thickly sliced white bread over charcoal till surface is burnt. Scrape off burnt layer. Cut each slice horizontally in the middle into 2 thin slices. Spread with kaya, generously, and top with slices of cold butter. Butter should be at least 2 mm thick or you're a wimp. Cut sandwich into 2 or 3 pieces. Serve immediately whilst hot and crisp.
🥪 Kaya toast is best dipped in soft-boiled eggs seasoned with dark soya sauce and ground white pepper. Coffee or tea – ideally made with water boiled over charcoal – is a must. A slice of butter in the coffee would be nice. To cool drink quickly, pour it into a saucer and then drink from the saucer.