August has been a special month in many ways. Apart from the fact that we celebrate my husband’s birthday and our anniversary in August, this was also the first time I participated in a photography competition and my photograph won me the third prize! I also hosted my second Daring Bakers Challenge this month.
The last time I hosted a Daring Baker Challenge, we all made a Tiramisu from scratch which meant making our own Savoiardi biscuits and Mascarpone cheese. This time it seemed only fair to introduce the Daring Bakers to some typically Indian bakes. So I chose to have them bake not one, but three recipes – the Mawa Cake, some Goan coconut cookies known as Bolinhas de Coco and savoury and spicy Indian Masala Biscuits/ Cookies.
It seems a bit silly to put in these “blog checking lines” when I’m hosting this challenge, but what needs to be done must be done! So here goes – Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen was our August 2013 Daring Bakers’ hostess 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!
I shall be presenting each recipe as a separate post for ease of posting and for your reading as well. I’ll start with the post pon the Mawa Cake. But, first a little bit of Mawa Cake history.
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 flavoured 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 KhOh-yaa.
In this cake, the Mawa lends a rich and a caramelized milky taste to this cake which is slightly dense and reminiscent of a pound cake. Cardamom and cashewnuts are typical of a Mawa Cake, though blanched almonds are also used instead of the cashewnuts . Mawa Cakes are usually baked as small loaves, round cakes and also as cupcakes. They’re served as they are, plain with tea or coffee.
The cake itself is not much of a challenge and very easy to make so what makes this challenge interesting is that the Daring Bakers had to start the cake from scratch, which was by making their own Mawa. Mawa is not too difficult to make, it just requires some time, patience and a lot of stirring!
Mawa Cake – A Cardamom Flavoured Milk Cake.