One of my earlier childhood memory is of my mum stirring the pot of kaya over the firewood stove. My mum ran a small coffee shop, and she used to make her own kaya for the toasts that her customers ordered. She learnt to make her kaya from the Hainanese sifu that worked for us. Most of the coffee shops in the town were ran by the Hainanese, and we were the only Cantonese coffee shop owners.
In fact, in the little town, most of the businesses were along ethnic lines. The Cantonese ran the sundry shops, the Hakkas the textile business, and the Hokkiens were mostly rubber dealers.
Ingredients for the home made kaya :
600 g sugar
2 egg whites
5 pandan leaves
a slice of young ginger
1 1/2 coconut - squeeze for thick santan.
Beat eggs and egg whites until foamy. Add in sugar, and place in double boiler. Stir until sugar dissolved. Strain mixture for lumps. Double-boil again. Add in pandan leaves and ginger. Keep stirring and add in the thick santan. Kaya is cooked when the santan has thickened. Remove ginger and pandan leaves.
For a nice caramel colour, caramelize about 50 g of sugar in a small saucepan and add to the kaya mixture, while it it still cooking.
Note : The whole cooking process will take over an hour. The water in the double boiler should not exceed 70 deg. C . If the water is too hot, the eggs will curdle and little lumps will form on the kaya.
It is a long tedious process, but the result is certainly worth it!