The Daring Bakers #24 Indian Mawa (milk) cake...

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 love Indian cooking so I couldn't miss this month's challenge! OK, to be honest... Mawa cake IS a lot of work, well mailny the very beggining of it is - the evaporating of the milk, keeping and eye on it stirring it constantly to make sure it won't burn... Work was greatly rewarded tho! It tastes divine, so sweet, milky, it's nice and light but still very moist. Even tho I loved the cake and had a big fun making it with lil baby J (who's enjoying all the baking activities now, as she's already over 3 years old) I don't think I'll be making this cake again - purely that it's taking ages to make! But... if you give it to me - anytime day or night - I'll gladly eat the lot! :)

PS. There's another part of the challenge - cookies - which you can find HERE (it was all too much for one post).

How to make it...

For the Mawa:
- 1 litre (4 cups) full fat milk
For the cake:
- 1/2 cup (115 gm) unsalted Butter (soft at room temperature)
- 3/4 cup packed crumbled mawa
- 1 1/4 cups castor sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 5 to 6 cardamom pods, powdered, (about 1-1/2 tsp powdered cardamom)
- 2 cups cake flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup milk
- cashewnuts (or blanched almonds) to decorate (about 18 to 20)

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.
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.
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.
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 litre (4 cups) of full-fat milk.

Now start preparations for the cake by pre-heating your oven to moderate 180°C. 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. 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. 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.
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. Bake in a preheated moderate oven for about 1 hour until the cake is a golden brown and a skewer pushed into the centre 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 will aluminium foil hallway through the baking time. 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.