If you grew up in Bombay, just the thought of Mawa Cake is enough to evoke a sweet whiff of nostalgia. Deliciously-moist, with a tender buttery crumb, this quintessential teatime treat is synonymous with the city’s rich Irani cafe culture and heritage. The starring ingredient is of course Mawa – dried evaporated milk solids, which are a distinctive touch in so many Indian sweets.
If you ask around, the best Mawa Cake today is undoubtedly to be found within the vintage halls of The Bombay Canteen. For the first time ever, their Head Pastry Chef, Heena Punwani, shares their signature recipe here for the perfect pick-me-up with your afternoon cuppa. If you missed it, you can (read: must) elevate your baking skills with her tips and tricks, here.
- 125 gm (1 cup) AP Flour
- 4 gm (1 tsp) Baking Powder
- 2 gm (1/3 tsp) Salt
- 48 gm (3 tbsp) Yoghurt
- 48 gm (3 tbsp) Milk
- 25 gm (2 tbsp) Oil
- 80 gm Mawa (room temperature)*
- 80 gm Unsalted Brown Butter* (room temperature, not warm or too soft)
- 60 gm (1/3 cup) Castor Sugar
- 50 gm (1/4 cup) Brown Sugar
* Also known as khoya, mawa is a staple base ingredient in almost all Indian sweets. Essentially dried evaporated milk solids, mawa is made by simmering milk on low heat (typically in a large iron kadai) for hours until all the moisture evaporates. The leftover milk solids is mawa!
To make the brown butter:
- Start with 100 gm unsalted butter (to get final 80 gm). Place in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. The butter will first melt and then start foaming up. Keep stirring and the butter will start to darken – if it foams up a second time, take it off heat and keep stirring. You want to end up with a golden brown, nutty smelling butter.
- Take care not to burn it – keep the heat low if you want to be cautious.
- Cool the butter by placing the bowl over an ice bath (a bigger bowl below filled with water + ice) or in the fridge. Use as directed in the recipe.
- Sift the flour and baking powder together. Add the salt and whisk together with a dry whisk. Keep aside.
- Whisk the yoghurt, milk and oil together in a bowl. Keep aside.
- In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the mawa on medium speed until smooth.
- Scrape the sides of the bowl. Add the brown butter and beat again until smooth and light.
- Add the sugars and continue beating on medium speed until very light and pale and fluffy. (This is the most important step for the final texture of the cake.)
- Add the yoghurt mixture and continue beating. The mixture may look like it has split, but be patient and continue beating (medium-high speed) and it will come together (and should look like frosting). However, make sure it is not over-whipped as it may cause the cake to sink while baking.
- Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed just until incorporated. (Don’t overmix at this step.) Fold with spatula if any flour mix is not incorporated.
- Transfer the batter to mini mawa cake silicon moulds or use a cupcake mould. (We use 35 gm in each mould).
- Bake at 175° C (160° C for a convection oven) for 14-18 mins. The actual time depends on the size of the mould you are using. When the cake is done, it should just barely be pulling away from the sides of the mould. Avoid opening the oven before the 14 mins mark.
- Transfer to a cooling rack and cool to room temperature. Once cool, store in an air- tight container. Refrigerate if you want to store it for a longer time.
- Heat the cake in the oven for 2-3 mins and serve with seasonal jam.
I’d love to hear from you! Do let me know if you try this recipe – leave a comment below; and tag me in your delicious creations on Instagram @the_foodiediaries.
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