Kaya Apple Cake

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These patches of bright light on my desk are rare, taking on sharp edges, hurting and twisting against the grim dark wall that is my computer screen shadow. A rare occasion, this sunlight. Its splendour screams safe but isn’t as unassuming and comforting as the 8am spillover of soft winter light, which funnily enough I do miss. Soft and unassuming. Just like the pot of homemade kaya sent all the way from Singapore. I can imagine my grandmother churning away with those pandan leaves on the weekend, thinking about how I would find her new recipe, sugar ratios in tow.

With school inevitably comes times of doubt and stress. I carefully pulled apart the bubble wrap neatly taped around the large tub of green. The smell of home propped my spirit on an invisible high horse and sent me straight to her kitchen thousands of miles away for a good 30 seconds. School didn’t exist for a good 30 seconds, too. Just standing there, one could believe nothing more than the present and past. Let the worries fade, let the senses of Now take over, and bake a cake.

There would seem to be a worrying mildness about kaya, yet when put together in a sea of cake batter and soft apple, its head pops out above the rest, an unmistakable coconutty hit serving well to blunt this seed of nonchalance.

A soft, cinnamony kaya apple cake, sandwiched with kaya, to be eaten only with something deliciously cold and creamy, as per pretty much everything I make. 

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This is an incredibly soft cake, more so than any of my other previous recipes. I suggest upping the amount of sugar by a few tablespoons for a more robust edge and crust, and feel free to use any sort of kaya; it need not be your traditional green kaya, for I envision the brown Hainanese sort works just as well, tailing along a more honeyed depth of sweet. And of course, the raisins are not de rigueur..

As usual, all substitutions are optional and vegan.

Kaya Apple Cake (makes one 9 inch cake)

Ingredients

200g plain flour

125g applesauce

60g butter (sub: flavourless oil or vegan butter)

100g kaya+ 100g for the fun sandwiching bit

1 egg (sub: one banana)

200g sugar

pinch salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp baking soda (eliminate if using self-raising flour)

1 tsp vanilla extract

100g raisins (optional)

190g chopped apple, peeled and cored (around 1 1/2 apples)

 

Directions

Preheat your oven to 177C and grease a 9-inch pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, sugar and salt. In a separate heat-safe bowl, heat the applesauce and butter together, either in a microwave or on a stove. Whisk in the egg, 100g of kaya and vanilla. Tip your raisins and chopped apple into the dry mix, before tipping in the wet applesauce mix. Mix everything together until just combined, then pour into your pan and bake for 35 minutes.

Once out, let cool for at least 10 minutes and ready the extra kaya. Cut the cake down the middle of the pan. Spread the remaining kaya onto the first half, sandwich with the second half, then cut everything into bars. Serve á la mode!

 

Bella Pasta

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An excruciating number of reviews.

Too little time, I say. And so I wallow in the woes of this routine world with an expression of doubt but heart of hope. I was up this morning and thinking about the raw freedom of the mornings, as I listened to the whurr of the air conditioner and buzz of the coffee machine. The toaster was ticking and my heart felt light. All before the dawn of another school day, all before a slew of assessments and analysis and faces; which I love, but weighs down heavy sometimes. Only really because the after-effect of a normal Sunday takes its toll and I feel mentally hungover. Then again, what on earth is new? Time passes and these motions carry on with you trapped in the tide. Forced to flow.

But Saturday. Saturday always holds such heart-pounding possibilities whenever it comes to foodie adventures. Coming back to Robertson Quay that afternoon was a familiar yet almost dangerous encounter, since the possibilities were endless. I was nauseous with ringing starvation which drenched my entire body and soul with an aching melancholy. I only wanted to eat and eat and be stained with a brimming satisfaction, though not sickness.

i swear I was heaving and sweating with hunger by the time my mother and I literally rushed into this open Italian restaurant, surrounded by the gregarious native people of Italy and the soft waters snaking down the river. We sat right under the fan, away from the ignorant smokers. It was a rushed decision which went something along the lines of:

“Hey mum look this looks rather appetising I heard Bella Pizza has the best pizza in Singapore but hey food let’s sit down here instead.”

Mother: “Um alright… Italian?” (she knows that would never typically be my first pick)

“Yes, why not.”

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fried calamari with tomato salsa

Crunch, chew, crunch, chew, back again and maybe chew a bit more just to get the rings of tender rubber down.

But delightful in both taste and texture. That salsa had the right tang without being either too thin and salty. I got the case of one dribble too many, but probably only due to my breakneck pace and clumsiness (I should never, EVER go anywhere too hungry or I’ll ruin a perfectly prim night out. Atrocious.) That calamari of course, was tender and may I even say a little fluffy. It was good squid, and I could see why the only other customers aside from an Indian couple were all Indians, open and full of gung-ho at best. It felt good to know that this is where they come for a quick and true Italian fix.

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charcoal grilled snapper on a bed of broccoli and tomatoes with a balsamic vinaigrette
linguine vongole

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The mother attacked the latter and I, the beautiful fish. Because well, fish. Also because I wanted to pick at the bread and my mother’s delicately twirled mound of shiny pasta strands (the joys of mother-daughter bonding sessions). For almost $30, I got a minute portion which only satisfied me with the addition of that luscious but slightly too oily balsamic. Thick oil drops lazed about in excess on every inch of the dish, but yes, the fish resembled a shiny piece of ivory silk which broke away in delectable flakes of oiled flesh.

But no. It didn’t throw me off any board. The linguine was better, I thought, with rich and affluent clams sliding out of empty shells. Beautiful little creatures. I’d like to imagine downing 10 at a time, like I would do onions. Lovely, really.

This stuff was good though not excellent, and most definitely not worth the appalling price. Even the gelato only came in three flavours (chocolate, strawberry and vanilla), and at a supposedly homey original Italian restaurant! Come on.

Pity.

Quality is mostly there though, and I enjoyed the rosy-cheeked, round-bellied waiters bustling to and fro.

Rating: 3.2/5

Bella Pasta

30 Robertson Quay #01-09

Riverside View Singapore 238251

Tel: (65)6836 5692