French toast goes local

Magazine editor Carol Kraal's brunch dish with a dessicated coconut crust is served with kaya spread and caramelised bananas

Like many Singaporeans, brunch is Ms Carol Kraal's favourite meal of the day.

The Eurasian magazine editor's love for brunch started with her late grandmother.

Ms Kraal, 52, recalls: "We would go all over Singapore to places such as Fosters at Holland Village and the old Botanic Gardens Hawker Centre (also known as Taman Serasi). I loved those brunch-time adventures and looked forward to them every weekend."

Now, she whips up her own brunch dishes, including grilled avocado and smoked gouda cheese ciabatta sandwiches and corned beef omelette.

Many of the dishes in her repertoire also have a local spin. They include gula melaka muffins, pancakes with guava-maple syrup (mix guava jam or jelly with maple syrup) and banana waffles with Milo sauce.

The avid cook, who likes to experiment with ingredients and recipes, shares her recipe for coconut French toast with caramelised bananas and kaya cream.

Every component of the hearty brunch dish is well thought out.

The classic kaya spread is mixed with heavy cream and instead of making just French toast, the bread is crusted with crispy cornflakes and dessicated coconut for added crunch.

And the caramelised bananas are meant to "balance" the flavours and cut through the cream.

"I tried using crushed almonds, but it turned out too oily and kept falling off the toast. So I added crushed cornflakes instead.

"If you want to show off, you can flambe it with a dash of coconut liqueur or rum," adds Ms Kraal, who is single and the eldest of three siblings.

She considers making brunch a form of "morning therapy and exercise" and also organises brunch parties for friends.

Besides cooking at home, she also heads out to popular brunch spots such as Tiong Bahru Bakery, Wild Honey and Epicurious at Robertson Quay.

What anchors the whole brunch experience for her is a good cup of coffee.

She favours Sumatran coffee for its low acidity and smokiness and has at least one cup a day.

She also attended a coffee-roasting programme by Etre Bon Academy, where she learnt everything from bean to brew, and has plans to do a barista course soon. Etre Bon is run by coffee manufacturer Boncafe for clients or consumers to take up coffee appreciation or barista courses.

With the hype around Singapore's booming cafe scene, she does not rule out opening a cafe one day with her sister-in-law, serving good coffee, of course.

She says: "The food may be good, but if the coffee is awful, I won't go back to the eatery."

This article was first published on Feb 22, 2015.
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