My family and I have long been advocates of adopting from animal shelters. When I lived in Hong Kong we adopted a cat from the SPCA there, and before Chai, my previous two dogs were both adopted from the RSPCA.
Chai was also adopted, from a different adoption centre, but I think what I’ve learnt, and loved, from having mutts in the house, is that you really never know what you’re going to get…but as long as you put the effort in, it pretty much always works out.
Which is a similar experience I had with experimenting with some cupcake flavours, in support of the RSPCA Cupcake Day, one of the only days where you can fight animal cruelty with cupcakes. Not a bad deal hey?
RSPCA Cupcake Day is on the 17th of August, which falls on a Monday, so perfect for getting the office, school or family involved…who needs an excuse to bake cupcakes anyway? If you don’t really want to get your bake on though, you can just donate on the website.
Over the weekend, mum and I thought we would try to make cupcakes, but give them a Malaysian twist, using pandan and kaya (coconut jam).
It had obviously been a while since I had baked as I made the joyous errors of:
1. Using plain flour instead of self-raising
2. Attempting to make icing with caster sugar instead of icing sugar.
Fortunately at the end of it all, we still ended up with something that was actually pretty tasty and perfectly edible, especially when you lobbed kaya on it like nobody’s business.
I won’t share the ‘recipe’ we used, as I’d like to tweak them a bit more and change a few things to perfect it. We took a basic vanilla cupcake recipe, swapped out the butter for coconut cream and the milk for pandan (we blitzed a couple of leaves with a mix of water and coconut water and strained out the liquid to use).
Really though, I think I would leave some butter in it, as the cupcakes came out nice and light, but need a little bit of fat to make it really moreish.
Using just the pandan liquid is also not enough for colour, so we just added in a couple of drops of pandan extra to really get that lovely gentle green through.
We attempted a couple of things with the kaya, baking it in the cupcake versus just drizzling it on and munching. If you put the kaya up near the top of the mix, it tends to bubble through, but turns into this delicious thick custard-y goodness. If you put it towards the bottom of the mix, and cover it thoroughly, it weirdly sinks to the bottom and kind of just caramelises…so it’s really better just to smear it on after the cupcakes are baked.
If you want to make kaya at home, pop 12 eggs in a bowl. Use that same bowl to measure out the same amount of sugar and coconut cream. Get a few pandan leaves, then put all the ingredients over very, very, very low heat and stir all of the components. It's usually about 3 hours of constant and gentle stirring. Put a movie or three on.
Or just buy Luxbite's...
We also learnt that although swapping out butter for coconut cream in the icing doesn’t really work, you can instead use the resulting product for a lovely glaze, and make it pretty with some sprinkled coconut over the top.
But really, just a bit of kaya, or whipped kaya and cream even, all smushed together in a delicious mouthful certainly does make for a happy place as well.
As said earlier, although we didn’t really know what was going to stick and what wasn’t…we made it all work, and will certainly be eating everything regardless. The cupcakes without any icing even got Dad’s tick of approval (and that never, ever, ever happens).
So save the date, the 17th of August, and have a cupcake party at the office.
The money you raise will support the RSPCA’s work to fight animal cruelty, and just this much can help:
- $24 can pay for an enrichment toy for a kitten
- $50 can cover boarding costs for animals of domestic violence victims
- $100 can desex a cat or dog so that it can be adopted into a loving home
- $240 can subsidise emergency surgery for an animal in pain
- $350 can keep an inspector on the road fighting animal cruelty