Kaya Jam is a spread made of coconut milk, sugar, eggs and pandan and is hugely popular in Southeast Asia. The kaya has a thick, almost custard like texture and is perfect spread on toast, sandwiched between layers of cake or eaten straight out of the jar with a spoon!
Food is a big part of why I travel, and I love incorporating ingredients I’ve discovered overseas when I’m back at home. I first tried kaya jam when I was in Singapore last year and fell in love. Kaya toast is considered a national Singaporean breakfast dish and features toasted bread smothered in kaya jam along with a thick slab of butter, washed down with a cup of local ‘kopi’ (coffee) or ‘teh’ (tea). It’s often served along with soft-boiled eggs. I ate this amazing dish as often as I could while I was there!
I had a meeting recently with the Singapore arm of my blogging agency and she brought me a jar of traditional Singaporean kaya jam – the perfect gift! I couldn’t wait to experiment with it in a few recipes.
I have a huge soft spot for mini cakes at the moment (is this the next cupcake?) and thought making mini coconut sponge layer cakes with kaya jam and cream cheese icing sandwiched together would be the perfect way to showcase this spread.
I left these cakes naked (i.e. not iced around the sides) as I wanted the coconut cake and kaya jam flavours to come through without being overwhelmed by cream cheese icing. A simple decoration of toasted coconut on top was the perfect way to finish these babies off.
Coconut Sponge Cake
- 225 g butter at room temperature
- 225 g caster sugar
- 1 tsp coconut essence
- 4 eggs
- 225 g self-raising flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
Cream cheese Icing
- 2 cups sifted icing sugar
- 50 g butter at room temperature
- 125 g cream cheese at room temperature
- Kaya Jam to fill
- Toasted coconut flakes to decorate
Coconut Sponge Cake
- Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease 2 x 20cm wide rectangular cake tins.
- Beat butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until pale.
- Add the coconut essence, then the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Add in the flour and baking powder and beat until just combined.
- Divide the mixture between prepared tins and bake for 15-20 mins until lightly golden brown.
- Cool on a wire rack before assembling.
Cream Cheese Icing
- Cream the butter and icing sugar together until well mixed.
- Add the cream cheese in cubes slowly until incorporated. Continue mixing for 5 minutes until the icing is light and fluffy.
- Once the cake has completely cooled down, use a round cookie cutter to cut out small cake circles. Mine was approximately 10cm in diameter.
- Place the first layer of cake down and spoon on 1 tbsp of Kaya jam, spread right to the edge. Then top with 1 tbsp of cream cheese icing.
- Add the next layer and repeat. For the top layer, smooth over a generous layer of cream cheese and decorate with some toasted coconut flakes.
I think these are the perfect mini cakes to serve at an afternoon tea, washed down with a cup of tea. If you want to put more of a Singaporean slant on your high tea, try making your own teh tarik which means “pulled tea”. It’s made of black tea and condensed milk which is repeatedly poured back and forth between two cups from a height, resulting in a frothy drink.
If you’re wanting to buy kaya jam yourself without a trip to Asia (although what a fun excuse to book a holiday!) then I can confirm most good Asian grocery stores will stock it. If you’re Sydney-based, I know you can get it from the Thai Kee IGA Supermarket in Chinatown. Happy baking!
Have you tried kaya jam before? What’s your favourite way to use it?