10-Minute Kaya (I)

Sunday, 9 October 2011

If you google "kaya hours of stirring", you'll find people (like here and here) who really do stand beside their pots of kaya, stirring away for hours on end. I greatly admire their 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 the longie and quickie? More importantly, is the quality compromised if you take 10 minutes instead of two hours? Well, the ingredients are more or less the same except for egg whites. The longie has egg whites; the quickie doesn't. Egg whites, being 90% water and 10% proteins, make the kaya less rich. That is, to me, not a good thing, especially when "kaya" means rich. But I imagine those in the anti-fats and anti-cholesterol brigade would jump with joy. In fact, they probably make their kaya whites-only, no-sugar, and without coconut milk. Urgh!

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. If the temperature is too high, the egg whites would turn lumpy and ruin the kaya.

Meanwhile, the sugar has to caramelize, which starts happening at about 160°C. But it's sitting in a pool of coconut milk that consists of mainly water. H2O's maximum temperature is 100°C, right? That's way too low for browning sugar. So, before any caramelization takes place, most of the H2O has to evaporate. Which is done ever so gently over a water bath so that the princessy egg whites don't get grumpy and lumpy. Even when the caramelization finally happens, along with the thickening as water evaporates, it's very slow because of the minimal heat. Now you see why making traditional kaya takes hours of dedicated stirring?

The hard labour may be easily avoided by doing two things: One, omitting the egg whites, thus allowing the kaya to be cooked at a higher temperature without a water bath. Two, replace some of the white sugar with palm sugar, which doesn't need to be caramelized. It has a lovely caramel fragrance as it is without any fuss. The simple re-engineering slashes the cooking time to 10-15 minutes. Efficiency improves, productivity rises, hallelujah! Making kaya is a royal pain no more.

Imagine smothering your morning toast with kaya that's full of the fragrance of fresh coconut milk, palm sugar and pandan. But it's not cloyingly sweet, and you're in the comfort of your own home instead of fighting the crazy crowds at Ya Kun or Chin Mee Chin. Oh yes, don't forget the slices of cold butter and half-boiled eggs, and tea or coffee to wash everything down. Now that's a breakfast worth waking up for!

12 June 2012 Update
Click here for my step-by-step video.

10-MINUTE KAYA (COCONUT EGG JAM)
(Recipe for 1 cup)

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

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.

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. Taste and add more sugar if necessary. Discard pandan leaves. Transfer to a bowl or bottle. Leave till completely cool. Cover and refrigerate. May be stored up to 1 week. Bring to room temperature before serving if you want a softer, squidgy consistency.

To make kaya toast the traditional way, grill thickly sliced old-fashioned white bread over charcoal till surface is burnt. Scrape off burnt layer. Cut each slice horizontally in the middle into 2 thinner 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. Best when dipped in half-boiled eggs seasoned with dark soya sauce and ground white pepper. Coffee or tea, made with water boiled over charcoal – gas or electricity is for wimps – is a must. Slice of butter in the coffee isn't but it's an excellent option. To cool drink quickly, pour into a saucer and then drink from the saucer. Yes, drink from the saucer like a cat.

59 comments:

Shu Han said...

omg i can't believe you made kaya in 10 minutes. that's brilliant!

Anonymous said...

1.can use the coconut cream from the chilled section at NTUC?
2. do you think it is ok to use gula melaka for the 2nd addition of 3 Tbsp sugar?
thks for this quick recipe, it comes in really helpful to feed a family of kids :)
Belle

Anonymous said...

Wow
Thanks for sharing the.recipe. Look yummy.


Ling

KT said...

Hiya, Mummyicanstir! *wink wink; wave*

Hi Ling, you're welcome.

Hi Belle

The best olive oil is extra virgin. Using the same analogy, unadulterated coconut milk would also be extra virgin; pasteurized and chilled coconut milk would be a father (or mother) of two; ultra-pasteurized and canned/tetra packed milk would be a 50-year-old sex worker. Which one you use is really a personal choice.

As for gula melaka, you can use it to replace the caramel. But, instead of an equal amount of gula melaka and white sugar, would suggest 2 tbsp gula melaka and 4 tbsp white sugar. Too much palm sugar would overwhelm the coconut milk, yolks and pandan. Of course, taste and adjust to your preference, as always.

JDinCO said...

That is quite the analogy. Glad I found this recipe. Unfortunately, I will have to use canned coconut milk, sigh......

KT said...

At least find one that's young and pretty?

Tricia L-Chin said...

I just made this tonight. I think I burnt my sugar. It tasted a little burnt.

The texture and the flavour is all there!

Love this easy and quick kaya!!! Can't wait to surprise my son tomorrow morning!!!

Thank you very much for sharing!

KT said...

Hi hi

I've tried using gula melaka instead of caramel, and the kaya is also very nice. If you want to try it, replace the 6 tbsp sugar in the recipe with either 2 tbsp GM and 4 tbsp sugar, or 3 tbsp GM and 3 tbsp sugar if you like a stronger GM flavour.

Caramel, more GM or less GM, I like them all!

Miss B said...

I need some kaya to make pandan kaya cake, so I am gonna bookmark this and try it out. I once made kaya using microwave method according to Lily Ng's recipe, but that took quite a long time. Then I found another recipe from Violet Fenying which offered a play-cheat method of making (pumpkin) kaya using custard powder which is much faster. So now I will try your method and see if it beats the timing of the pumpkin kaya recipe. :)

KT said...

Kaya made with pumpkin – presumably a puree that comes out of a can – and custard powder? If speed is the only priority, why not just open a bottle of baby food and add some sugar?

Miss B said...

No, my pumpkin is fresh pumpkin from the garden, which I have to get rid of. I am not looking for speed, on the contrary, I am searching for a recipe that produces good results. I have custard powder and pumpkin in my pantry, and since the recipe works, why not? :)

Maggie said...

Hi hi...thanks for all your videos. I love watching them! In fact, i'm always laughing away because i find them funny (because of the subtitles).  Today I'll will trying your Orr kueh recipe. Hope i succeed :)

KT said...

Thanks, Maggie. Good luck.

Yang_eunice said...

thanks for the lovely video:)

KT said...

 You're welcome.

mutant 10 said...

honey I just love you for that genius kaya recipe. XXX muahhhh! long may you post your recipes for incompetent and lazy cooks like me. Ben

KT said...

Whoa . . . .
*take a step back; dodge to the right*
Easy, tiger. Nice to meet you too, Ben.

Brittany said...

Oooh, that slice of cold butter looks sinfully delicious on that kaya toast! I'm never one of those who could stir till the cows came home but now with your method I can hope to make homemade kaya too. Love the post and thanks for sharing.
Regards, Brittany

KT said...

Sadly, the butter wasn't from Brittany. ; - )

It was French though.

Brittany said...

French butter is one of the best especially the salted ones. Btw, I live in Brittany, France :)

Nic said...

Tried your recipe and it worked! Kaya has a rich taste and lovely texture and colour. Thank you! However, it took me about 50 mins from start to finish but worth every minute.

KT said...

Unless you're cooking with a tiny candle, the cooking part shouldn't take 50 minutes. It might take 15 minutes for newbies; once you know the drill, 10 minutes is quite doable.

Did you heat the coconut milk with the sugar till it's just gently simmering before adding it to the eggs? If you did and your kaya took longer than 15 minutes to thicken, you should increase the heat. I start with the lowest setting on my gas stove plus maybe 3-4 notches, then reduce it gradually to the barest minimum as the kaya thickens.

Julie said...

I am gonna do that for tomorrow's breakfast :) Thank you!

KT said...

Good luck!

If you like, you can upload a photo of your kaya. Just use the little icon in the comment box.

RL said...

This recipe is fool proof! I'm an 18 y/o student studying overseas and this was SO easy to make and tasted SO good. :) Thank you soooo much for the recipe!

Anonymous said...

if i used this method but with egg whites...would it work?!?!xx

KT said...

Yes, but only if, whilst stirring, you hop on your left leg, hold your right ear with your left hand and press your right nostril with your right middle finger.

Anonymous said...

you've got great imagination

Bee said...

Is the coconut milk using old coconut or young coconut? A very interesting blog with all the yummy food :) Thanks!

KT said...

Old; young ones don't have any milk.

Summicron said...

My wife likes pandan kaya but due to the long and tedious stirring,
never tried making it. Also we could hardly find the time to cook leisurely. I am very happy to find your kaya recipe. Very clever.

Neo Sujun said...

Amazing! You're so smart! Just wondering if I can use UHT Treated packaged coconut milk instead?

kt said...

Yes if you think it tastes good.

WT said...

Hi, do you think I can use powdered coconut milk?

jo said...

this kaya looks so amazing...no need to double boil and ready to eat in 10mins. btw, KT, i like it green, what would your recipe recommendation? thanks

kt said...

To make green kaya, you have to use uncaramelized white sugar, and either pandan juice or green food colouring. Reduce the sugar a bit because white sugar is sweeter than caramel and gula melaka.

jo said...

Thanks KT. Im so sad. while waiting for your reply, I tried the gula melaka flavor. However, it went wrong. it becomes very curdy and turning to more water as I cooked. Can you advise?

kt said...

Follow the recipe.

Irene Choo said...

I can't tell you how much I love your blog. I baked pandan chiffon cake (your recipe, of course) & cracking my head what to do with the extra yolk and coconut milk.... kaya, that's the perfect answer. Whoopie! Thank you! Thank you!

kt said...

You are welcome.

Katherine. said...

I can't wait to make this! Have been living in france for a year now, does anybody know how to ask for 'pandan leaves' in french? or kaya? I will also have to make it with tinned coconut milk.

kt said...

Les feuilles de pandan/pandanus, pour réaliser . . . le kaya?

Qi said...

Would you kindly also do the bread and tea with the charcoal thing, I'm just simply clueless. Btw, loved how you approach recipes scientifically, maybe you could add pressure cooker to your equipments, and maybe also you could check hippressurecooking.com for inspiration, just some suggestions ^^

DAVIDPD said...

I live in the United States, and cannot find fresh Pandan. I found canned leaves, but it has tons of preservatives and I am afraid to use it. Is there any substitute you know of?

kt said...

Pandan
leaves aren't crucial to kaya. The quality of the coconut milk is
more important. If you're using canned milk, here's some info you may
find useful:


http://www.thaifoodandtravel.com/ingredients/cocmilk.html


http://thaifoodandtravel.com/blog/thai-coconut-shortage-1/


http://thaifoodandtravel.com/blog/thai-coconut-shortage-2/


Cheers.

Kayafan said...

Hi, thanks for sharing this great recipe and the video on youtube sure helps - I would like to make more kaya so can I double or triple up the above ingredients?

kt said...

How about doubling your common sense?

elynn said...

Just wanted to say thank you for the recipe.. really simple and easy.. i have made my own kaya for the first time following your recipe :) nice......

Jackjillmom said...

Hi, I would like to declare that your site will be my #1 favorite cooking blog! Thank you so much for sharing all those yummy recipes. You are a genius!

maisie said...

I love this short cut version of your recipes....save a lot of time. and I tried the .Kueh Bengka Ubi - really good. and also they are my favourites. Thank you. Very much appreciated

neo said...

i'm thinking to sell kaya, but this recipe costing will be high, what ingredient can be added to produce more volume as egg n coconut cream is expensive in my country

roy said...

how long can the kaya last in room temperture if air tight?

Jane said...

Hi KT,



I followed your recipe to the T but somehow my kaya didn't turn out as smooth as yours in the video. Will u kindly advise what could go wrong? Thanks.

kt said...

Jane, I sure will. Let me know when.

Eleanor said...

HI KT,

I live in Australia, I Followed your receipt to make kaya~it was very nice and smoothies, I love it so much~thanks for sharing your receipt.

kmcoolpix1305 said...

Hi there,


Thanks so much for this recipe. However, my kaya also did not turn out as smooth as yours. Could it be because I have used canned coconut milk? Appreciate if you could please advise. Thanks.

kt said...

More likely there was egg white in the kaya.

kmcoolpix1305 said...

Thanks for the enlightenment. This is indeed killer kaya.

lara said...

how many days can it be kept from?

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