This month our Daring Bakers host was Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and she challenged us to make some amazing regional Indian desserts. The Mawa Cake, the Bolinhas de Coco cookies and the Masala cookies – beautifully spiced and delicious!
Due to time and calorie constraints I decided to only tackle the Mawa cake. The rich and fragrant cake was a favorite among all the tasters, especially Latif who is very picky about dessert.
According to Aparna, “Mawa Cakes are a specialty cake that is the hallmark of Irani cafés in India. The Iranis are Zoroastrians who left Persia/ Iran in the 19th and early 20th centuries to escape persecution of non-Muslims, and settled down and thrived here mostly in the cities of Mumbai, Hyderabad and Pune. They’re most famous in India for their friendly informal cafés/ restaurants that serve the most awesome food. The brun pav or maska pav(kinds of bread) with Irani chai (thick, strong, sweet and milky cardamom flavored tea), their Shrewsbury biscuits and Mawa cakes are but a few of them.
Mawa (also known as Khoya/ Khoa) is made by slowly reducing milk (usually full-fat) until all that remain is a mass of slightly caramelized granular dough-like milk solids. Mawa is used in a wide variety of Indian sweets like Gulab Jamun and Peda, to mention just two. Mawa is pronounced as Maa-vaa; Khoya is pronounced as KhOhyaa. “
While the cake is a cinch to make, the Mawa is time consuming and requires a lot of patience. It took about 4 hours for my milk to completely reduce down to milk solids. Next time I will make the cake with ready made mawa that we can get in Indian mithai (sweet) shops.
Recipe Source - Aparna from My Diverse Kitchen
For The Mawa
1 liter (4 cups) Full Fat Milk
For The Cake
1/2 Cup (1 stick) (120 ml) (113 Gms) Unsalted Butter (soft at room temperature)
3/4 Cup (180 ml) Packed Crumbled Mawa
1-1/4 Cups (280 Gms) Castor Sugar
3 Large Eggs
1 ½ Tsp Cardamom Powder2 Cups (260 Gms) Cake Flour
1 Tsp (5 Gms) baking powder
1/4 Tsp Salt
1/2 Cup (120 ml) Milk
Cashew Nuts (or blanched almonds) to decorate (about 18 to 20)
Make The Mawa
1. First make the “Mawa”. Pour the milk into a heavy bottomed saucepan, preferably a non-stick one. Bring the milk to a boil, stirring it on and off, making sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom. Turn down the heat to medium and keep cooking the milk until reduces to about a quarter of its original volume. This should take about an hour to an hour and a half.
2. The important thing during this process is to watch the milk and stir it frequently to make sure it doesn't stick to the sides or bottom of the pan and get burnt. The danger of this happening increases as the milk reduces and gets thicker.
3. Once the milk it has reduced to about one fourth, 1/4 quantity, lower the heat to low and let cook for a little while longer. Keep stirring regularly, until the milk solids (mawa) take on a lumpy appearance. There should be no visible liquid left in the pan, but the mawa should be moist and not stick to the sides of the pan.
4. Remove the pan from heat and transfer the mawa to a bowl and let it cool completely. Then cover and refrigerate it for a day or two (not more) till you’re ready to make the cake. It will harden in the fridge so let it come to room temperature before using it. You should get about 3/4 to 1 cup of mawa from 1 liter (4 cups) of full-fat milk.
Bake The Cake
1. Now start preparations for the cake by pre-heating your oven to moderate 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Beat the butter, the crumbled mawa and the sugar in a largish bowl, using a hand held electric beater, on high speed until soft and fluffy.
2. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat on medium speed till well incorporated. Add the vanilla and milk and beat till mixed well.
3. Sift the cake flour, baking powder, cardamom, and salt onto the batter and beat at medium speed and well blended. If you cannot find cake flour, place 2 tablespoon of cornstarch in the bottom of your 1-cup measure and then fill it with all-purpose (plain) flour to make up to 1 cup.
4. Grease and line only the bottom of an 8 inch (20 cm) spring form pan. Pour the batter into this and lightly smooth the top. Place the cashew nuts (or blanched almonds) on top of the batter randomly. Do not press the nuts down into the batter. A Mawa Cake always has a rustic finished look rather than a decorated look.
5. Bake in a preheated moderate oven for about 1 hour until the cake is a golden brown and a skewer pushed into the center comes out clean. Do not over bake the cake or it will dry out. If the cake seems to be browning too quickly, cover it with aluminum foil hallway through the baking time.
6. Remove from oven and allow it to cool for 10 min in the tin. Release the cake, peel off the parchment from the base and let it cool completely.