If I had to choose the one local breakfast item I miss most from Singapore, it would have have have to be good, buttered kaya toast. Made complete with a steaming, frothy cup of teh tarik and half-boiled eggs. Thinking about it is already making me salivate.
Kaya toast to me is the epitome of simplicity done right– warm, charred white toast, the crusts traditionally, almost clinically removed with a sharp serrated knife, slathered thickly and unevenly with unsalted butter and a thick layer of homemade kaya. For those of you who do not know, kaya is basically coconut jam. A creamy, sweet, thick curd made from coconut milk, eggs and sugar. Some days I want butter and marmalade on my toast, others warrant almond butter, honey and banana, and sometimes it’s all about good old butter and kaya. The latter occasion has greatly increased in frequency.
This kaya loaf cake made with olive oil and maple syrup is your favourite local breakfast in one big warm hug of a loaf. It’s :
- sweet, earthy, tender
- such a breeze to make!!
- got the most amazing sweet and crusty top
- heaven in the morning
- actually your new wake-up call
It’s one of the most moist, dense (in a good way) and tender loaf cakes I’ve baked in a while, undoubtedly due to the texture of kaya itself, as well as the addition of olive oil, dark brown sugar and maple syrup.
The components all possess deep, earthy, sensual undertones which complement each other fantastically, the dark brown sugar providing a hint of molasses, the kaya’s almost-fluffy consistency offering milky sweetness and volume. I used nyonya kaya (couldn’t find the traditional brand on Amazon; the link I provide is the closest I could find but you should be able to find it at any oriental supermarket), but Hainanese kaya, which uses caramelised sugar and sometimes honey and is brown instead of green, would work perfectly too.
Kaya Maple Loaf Cake (makes one standard 9×5-inch loaf), based loosely off my banana bread recipe
190g (1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
one generous pinch salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
60ml (1/4 cup) maple syrup
1 cup kaya (no metric measurement eek– you should be fine!)
120g (1/2 cup, packed) dark brown sugar
2 tbsp plain yoghurt (I used coconut yoghurt for extra pizzaz, but you don’t have to go that far)
120ml (1/2 cup) olive oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
For the crusty top: 2 tbsp dark brown sugar+ 1 tsp ground cinnamon
Preheat your oven to 180C (350F) and grease (line as well if you wish) a 9×5-inch loaf pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon.
In a large bowl, whisk together everything else except the ingredients for the crusty top. Pour the dry mix into this wet mix and stir everything together well with a whisk or wooden spoon. Pour the thick, green-tinged mix into your greased loaf tin– the batter should appear quite wet and not very lumpy (like a typical banana bread batter). Mix the topping ingredients briefly with a fork in a small saucer and sprinkle evenly on top.
Bake in your preheated oven for 50 minutes, then remove and let cool for at least a half hour before slicing. Any leftovers can be stored at room temperature for 3-5 days, or kept in the fridge for a week. It’s wonderful toasted on its own, with a smear of salted butter and hot coffee.