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Steamed Challah with Kaya

Lauren Monaco Grossman



steamed challahWhen I’m feeling nostalgic for my time in Singapore, you can find me in the kitchen, trying to recreate the foods I miss so much. This recipe is a play on Singapore’s favorite breakfast—kaya toast. Usually the bread is toasted or grilled over charcoal, but in this version the bread is steamed, adding moisture and fluffiness back into day-old bread.

It’s a wonderful way to use up any leftover challah after Shabbat. It’s delicious on its own, but the sweet and savory flavors really shine when served the traditional way—dunked into a couple of runny half-boiled eggs drizzled with soy sauce, alongside a strong cup of coffee with plenty of condensed milk. 

Kaya is a thick coconut milk and egg jam slowly cooked with pandan leaves until it becomes a beautiful deep golden color. I try to make it from scratch when I can, but it can be found online or at some Southeast Asian grocery stores. I like using my bamboo steamer for this recipe, since it will absorb the condensation as it steams, but you can also use a metal steamer and wrap a towel around the underside of the lid to absorb the moisture. 


Ingredients for 2 servings

  • 4 slices of day-old challah, crusts removed (save those crusts for future bread crumbs!) 
  • Kaya jam 
  • Cold butter, cut into generous slices 


  1. Add about an inch of water to a large shallow pan or wok. Place bamboo steamer into pan and bring water to a boil. Reduce heat and keep at a simmer over low heat. 
  1. Arrange cold butter slices onto two challah slices. Spread buttered slices with a generous amount of kaya.  
  1. Top with remaining challah slices (you should end up with two sandwiches). Cut sandwiches into halves or quarters. 
  1. Check water level in steamer, and add more water if needed. Arrange sandwich halves in steamer and steam over low heat for 4-6 minutes.  
  1. Serve immediately with a side of runny eggs with soy sauce and a cup of strong coffee. 

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Lauren Monaco Grossman

Lauren is a graphic designer and illustrator by day and home cook, baker and ice cream maker by night. She and her husband celebrate three different New Year’s holidays (four if you count Tu Bishvat) and love to host Shabbat dinners with friends and family. She enjoys expressing her multiracial identity through the food on their table and learning the stories and histories behind the recipes. She’s often making a mess in the kitchen, playing with flavors and techniques where her Peranakan and Italian ancestries are in dialogue with her Jewish identity. Visit her food blog at