This kaya puff recipe is what dreams are made of. Really. If you’re looking for a kaya puff recipe that will yield a light and crispy golden brown exterior with a luxurious filling? What about a kaya puff recipe that does all of this, is lactose-free, low FODMAP friendly, and can be deep-fried or air fried?
Today is your lucky day because this kaya puff recipe is just that. It’s vegan, lactose-free, and above all it is delicious. Learn how to make these kaya puffs and a few other things along the road like:
Nothing gets the appetite going like a long journey right? So, kick up those tired feet, get comfy and enjoy the ride through our first section, “What is a kaya puff?”
What Is A Kaya Puff?
A kaya puff is a sweet treat eaten in Malaysia at tea time or breakfast if you have a sweet tooth. Coconut kaya jam filling is encased by light and crispy “puff” pastry that is typically fried. Think of a hand pie of sorts or a sweet empanada.
If you want to learn more about kaya, what it is, and how to make it, check out our vegan kaya recipe. The kaya puff is not the original puff though. There are plenty of puffs in Malaysia and for the heck of it, let’s talk about variations of Malaysian puffs.
Variations Of Malaysian “Puffs”
I have a theory that they are called puffs because they puff puff puff right up when you fry them but I can neither confirm nor deny that. The kaya puff -though delicious- is not the original puff. The curry puff or “karipap” in Bahasa, is the true OG puff.
The same light and crisp pastry is used but a savory filling is used instead. It’s almost always some kind of minced meat like chicken or beef that has been cooked in spices and potatoes. Some variations have sardines, eggs, and even tofu.
Note: Curry puffs can be found in Indonesia but they are called ‘pastel’ instead.
Making an incredible filling is half the battle though. The real sore point of a kaya puff can be the pastry. So, to avoid chalky and tough pastry that is dense, let’s talk about making the pastry below.
The Pastry: Vegan Butter VS Butter
Recipe update: 25 February 2022
Something worth pointing out is using vegan butter or regular butter doesn’t alter this recipe in terms of method, taste, or texture. But it does change the appearance slightly. This difference is prominent only when you’re frying the kaya puff.
This kaya puff recipe is based on a family recipe that is traditionally not vegan. If you’re using regular butter, your puff will have more defined layers like so:
You’ll still get those flaky layers if you use vegan butter, they’ll just be more muted:
Anyway, butter aside, I want to start by apologizing in advance for this section because I will be asking you to make two kinds of dough and there will be some minor dough lamination going on. But trust me! These extra steps will make it all worth it when you bite into that flaky crisp pastry.
Here’s what we’ll cover in this section:
- Making the dough
- Dough A
- Dough B
- Creating layers
Let’s start with making the dough:
Making The Dough
For this recipe you’ll be making two kinds of dough; dough A and dough B. Dough A is the main component and is made from flour, margarine, ice water, salt, and sugar. It is the ‘main’ dough. Dough B is made from flour and oil. It is the secondary dough that will help create those flaky layers. Let me show you how easy it is to make individual doughs by starting with dough A.
First, we have to make dough A. Add your flour, sugar, and salt into a bowl. Mix the dry ingredients thoroughly. Add vegan butter or margarine to the dry ingredients and crumble the butter in. Do this until there are no large butter clumps. The dough should resemble fine sand.
After that, add in the water a little bit at a time. Tip the mixture out of the bowl when the dough begins to form. Knead it for 3-5 minutes or until it is smooth.
Set the dough aside and allow it to rest for 30 minutes. Now, we can move on to making dough B!
To make dough B, add oil to the flour and mix until it forms a dough. That’s it.
Once dough A has rested, you can gather both doughs and we can start creating the layers.
If you want crispy, flakey, light pastry, creating the layers of the puff pastry is essential. We will be combining dough A and B to achieve this goal. Portion out dough A into 4 small sections to start making the pastry for the kaya puff. Do the same to dough B too.
Take one portion of dough A and flatten it. Place a piece of dough B in the middle of dough A. Wrap dough A around dough B and pinch the edges tightly. Roll it out until it’s smooth and that’s step one done. Repeat this step for the other pieces of dough.
The next step is going to be a bit of a doozy. Mostly because I’ll be asking you to roll the dough thinly, shape it into a log, and then roll it out again, and then roll it into another log. Don’t run away yet! This may seem repetitive and meaningless but stick with me through these next steps. This is a case of “easier done than explained.” I have included plenty of pictures to make this process easier for both of us.
Roll out your dough ball thinly into a long rectangle. Then shape that into a log by rolling one edge towards the other. Cut the log in half and flatten it.
Take that flattened dough and roll it up one last time. Divide the rolled dough into 4 portions for small kaya puffs. Flatten each disc thinly. Each round disc will make one kaya puff.
Now that we’ve gotten the convoluted rolling and laminating out of the way, we can finally learn how to make this kaya puff recipe!
How To Make Our Kaya Puff Recipe
On the list of things to make with puff pastry, kaya puffs are at the very top for me. I’m happy as long as I don’t think about the calories in kaya. Actually, do yourself and forget I even mentioned kaya calories…
If you want to know how to make this coconut jam spread and what kaya ingredients you need, have a look at our vegan eggless kaya recipe. Or buy ready-made kaya at your local Asian grocer!
On to the actual point of this section, how to make kaya puffs. We’ve made the dough and now all that’s left to do is fill, fold, crimp, and fry (or air-fry) them. Let’s start with the filling, folding, and crimping first.
Folding & Crimping
Take a piece of dough and place a teaspoon of filling in the middle. Fold the dough over each other and pinch the corners.
Pinching the corners does two things:
- It seals the pastry so the kaya doesn’t leak out
- Makes the edges thinner so we can crimp them
After folding and pinching, it’s time to start crimping. I find that it’s easier to start from the right side and work your way through the whole pastry. Fold the first corner and pinch tightly.
Repeat this step on the edge of the kaya puff until it’s completely crimped. We are aiming for delicious parcels of goodness, not perfection. So, don’t bat an eye if they look wonky.
Once you’ve filled, folded, and crimped each puff, we can now move on to the final step! Deep frying or air frying your kaya puff pastry dessert.
To Deep Fry or Air Fry?
We have crossed the threshold of learning how to make puff pastry dough for our kaya puffs and now we are at the final frontier. Frying the kaya-filled sweet puff pastry hand pies.
Puffs in general have a bad rap for being unhealthy because they’re deep-fried. I’m a traditionalist to some extent but eating healthy doesn’t always mean eliminating foods. Moderation or alternatives are better than deprivation.
So, in the name of moderation and healthy alternatives, this recipe is deep fryer and air fryer friendly. You can have all the goodness of this easy puff pastry dessert without the thought of it swimming in liters of oil. I guess you could say, you can have your cake -or kaya puff- and eat it too…*Insert cricket sounds here*
Okay, now that I’ve had my fun and cracked my jokes, let’s wrap this whole thing up. If you want to deep fry your puffs, bring some vegetable oil up to temperature and drop them in there. Fry them on medium-high heat until they’re golden brown. Remove them from the oil and set them on kitchen paper to get rid of excess oil.
Brush your air fryer basket with oil to prevent the kaya puffs from sticking to the bottom. Also, brush your kaya puffs with a light layer of oil or melted butter to help form that golden-brown crust that’s usually achieved from deep frying.
Place your kaya puffs in the air fryer and cook at 190c or 356f for 10 minutes. Let them cool in the air fryer for a few minutes before removing them.
And voila, you are done! Have a look at the comparison between the deep-fried and air fried kaya puffs:
The deep-fried kaya puffs have a bubbly exterior and the air-fried puffs have a smoother surface. Aside from aesthetics, there aren’t any discernible differences in taste or texture.
What did you think of this kaya puff recipe? Was it easy to follow or did the repetitive rolling, laminating, folding, and crimping send your head into a tizzy? If you love kaya and you’re not sure what else to make with it, why not have it the traditional way? Served as kaya butter toast or get creative and make a coconut kaya cake with an ooey-gooey kaya filling in place of caramel.
If you want to learn how to make kaya from scratch:
Vegan Kaya Puff Recipe
These irresistible kaya puffs are a sweet take on the beloved Malaysian curry puff snack. They're light and crispy on the outside and filled with a rich coconut jam (kaya). The best part is they're vegan!
- Oil to deep fry
- Vegan kaya or Kaya of your choice
- Mix A:
- 250g flour
- 85g vegan butter or margarine
- 80ml cold water
- 1 tbs sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Mix B:
- 100g flour
- 45g oil
Add all the dry ingredients for mixture A into a bowl and mix until combined.
Add the softened vegan butter or margarine to the flour mix. Use your hands to crumble the butter and mix it thoroughly through the flour. There should not be discernable lumps of butter.
Add the cold water bit by bit until a dough forms. Need this dough for 3 minutes and cover it with cling film. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes.
If the dough is a bit sticky, add some flour to the surface before rolling it out.
Mix the flour and oil until it forms a ball.
Assembling (There is a visual guide in the blog post):
Take dough A and portion into 4 equally sized balls.
Do the same to dough B.
Take one piece of the dough from A and flatten it with your palm.
Place one piece of dough B in the middle of dough A and pinch the sides to form a ball. Repeat this step with each portioned dough.
Now you should have 4 pieces of dough. Take one dough ball and roll it out flat into a rectangle.
Roll it into a log and then flatten it thinly once more. You should have one long piece of dough. Roll it up one last time into a thick log.
Portion each log into 4. Take one circle and flatten it with a rolling pin.
Place a teaspoon of kaya into the middle and fold the dough in half.
Pinch the ends to seal the pastry and fold the corners.
If air frying:
Brush a layer of oil on each puff and place them in the air fryer. Cook at 190c or 356f for 10 minutes. Let them cool in the air fryer for a few minutes before removing them.
Heat up enough oil to deep fry on medium-high heat.
When the oil has come to temperature, gently place 3-5 puffs in the oil.
Fry for 3-5 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from the oil and drain the puffs on kitchen paper to remove any excess oil.
If the dough is hard to handle and is sticky, add a light dusting of flour on your surface.