If you’ve been following the food news in Mumbai recently, much has been said already about the humble Mawa Cake. If you don’t live in Mumbai and are wondering why this is the case then let me update you. The media frenzy started earlier this year when the 100 year old Irani cafe, B. Merwan in Grantroad known for its Mawa Cakes announced that it will be shutting down by 31st March. This is yet another closure of a popular Irani cafe and the city truly mourned its loss with paper after paper writing stories about B Merwan and more so about its renowned Mawa Cakes.
My relationship with the Mawa Cake has been something akin to a distant cousin. You don’t see them every day or even every month for that matter but you love them and are comfortably complacent about their existence. Similarly, I’ve always enjoyed the buttery Mawa Cake that has just the perfect hint of cardamom. However, my time in NZ meant that I didn’t eat these cakes as often and even after coming to Mumbai, Mawa Cakes are something I just pick up if I am in the Grantroad or Andheri area. (there is another unassociated B. Merwan there whose rum balls I swear by!)
Nevertheless, my curiosity was piqued when Pooja Vir who blogs at Table for One approached me to research the origins of the Mawa Cake. While I couldn’t be of much help sadly, I’d highly recommend her article on ‘How the Mumbai’s Cupcake Survived’ to all food history lovers. With both B. Merwan and Royal Bakery of Pune claiming that their bakery was the one to invent this humble cake to me this seems to be the Pavlova argument all over again (both New Zealand and Australia claim they invented the Pavlova. Being a kiwi I side with the NZ story ofcourse).
After reading multiple stories about the Mawa cake, I decided to try my hand at making it at home. There were quite a few recipes but the one that I’ve followed below has been picked up from Helene DuJardin’s blog, Tartellete – the recipe for the cake was given to her by her friend, Bina who like many of us has strong memories associated with the cake. And now without further ado, below is the recipe for the Mawa Cake – ingredients below the post as always.
The most important part of the cake ofcourse is the Mawa – Indians are lucky enough to be able to source this from their local mithai shop. However, if Mawa is something that you may not have easy access to then you can follow the steps on Tartellete.
For the cakes, firstly preheat the oven and lightly spray with cooking spray (or brush with melted butter) small cupcake, muffin tins or other mini cake moulds. Set aside.
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt, baking powder and cardamom
Now, beat together the mawa, butter and sugar using an electric beater at medium speed
Once its combined, add in the eggs one at a time and beat well
Next, add in the flour mixture you had kept aside as well as the milk and once again beat the mixture till everything is well mixed
Divide evenly amongst the muffin tins (the cakes will rise so I recommend filling it to 3/4 of the height) topping each one with broken cashews
Bake for 20 – 25 minutes at 180 degs and resist the urge to keep opening the oven
Remove once they are golden brown and cool – the Mawa Cakes tastes best with a hot cup of tea and can be stored for upto 4 – 5 days in an airtight container.
To make about 8 cakes you will need:
1 1/4 cups (155gr) all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
pinch of salt
100gm mava, at room temperature
6 tablespoons (90gm) butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar (about 200 gm)
6 tablespoons whole milk
cashew halves (optional)