Indian Cardamom Mava Cakes

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Indian Mava Cakes

Many days of the week, I wish I could just call up my friend Bina to come and have tea or coffee with me. I know my afternoons have never been sweeter as since she shared her Mava Cakes recipe with us. I am very fond of a little tea break and I am very fond of Bina. We "met" when she emailed about her macarons issues. We just went through every problem, one by one, laughing along the way. Like with most friendships, it is difficult to explain how the pieces of the puzzle just fell into place. We started sharing a bit more each day, her about India and me about France.

We finally met in person and confirmed our friendship went deeper than a computer screen. We cook the same way, from memory, from family, for others, always worried people are going to enjoy themselves and have enough. Our cultures are miles away from each other and yet we relate by cooking like our ancestors did. Our way to keep alive the generations before us and pass it on to the ones after us.

Bina is funny, talented, attentive and generous. There is no better guide than her when going grocery shopping at an Indian grocery store which is precisely what I did on my last visit. A lot of dishes and treats were mentionned on that last trip but nothing prepared me to the little box she sent me last month.

Mava Cakes

"I am sending you some mava cakes I just made. It's a recipe I have been working on for a while". As soon as the package arrived, I ripped the wrapping to shreds and stared at the container, wondering if I should wait on B. to sample one. I did not, and a moment of sheer bliss quickly followed. I started counting the mini cakes wondering how many I could eat before B. would find it strange she sent so little...

Hints of butter, milk and cardamom hit me all at once sending my senses in a very happy dance. I quickly shut the box closed and sent her an email "please, please, please, tell me how to make those! What's the story behind them? What's mava?"


Turns out mava is a reduction of milk and/or cream that gives a thick spread complementing the butter and other ingredients in the cakes. Her recipe calls for evaporated milk and heavy cream and I am sure there are others out there but this is the one that makes Bina feel closest to home and that sounds perfect to me! On a side note, she tops hers with cashew halves but I ran out on my last batch and plopped a pitted cherried right in the middle instead.

Mava Cakes

Thank you dear Bina for adding your words and memories to this post. I am just the one telling people "you must make this!".

Mava cakes bring back all the wonderful memories I have of growing up in Mumbai– my family, friends, college, monsoons, red double-decker buses, Marine Drive, amazing food, wonderful bakeries...

The bakeries were not the trendy places more common now, but simple Irani/Parsi ones which had the best mava cakes! Our family favorite was the City Bakery which was a ‘must-stop’ for us, often around 5 am, on our way back from the airport after helping a friend or relative catch an international flight (which always left at some crazy hour like 3 am!). The city always looked so quiet and peaceful at that hour and as we approached the bakery, we would be greeted with the amazing aroma of freshly baked bread. Next to the breads, piled high on a tray were the mava cakes. Not particularly impressive to look at, plain looking almost, occasionally dressed with a sprinkle of cashews or almonds. One bite of these delicious cakes was all it took to get hooked! We would return with our stash of baked goodies and sit in our balcony overlooking the Arabian Sea, sipping hot tea and munching on these cakes, watching the sky get brighter. Home for me is now over here but whenever I make these cakes, I feel like I am back on that balcony and that always makes me smile.


Mava Cakes

One year ago: Loquat Creme Brulee Tartelettes.
Two years ago: Lemon Mascarpone Charlottes.

Mava Cakes:
Makes about 12-18 depending on the molds
Notes: I used canele molds but feel free to use anything that you have, like muffin tins or cupcake liners.
Make sure to use a large pot so the milk and cream cook down properly.


For the mava:
2 cans (14oz each) evaporated milk (not low fat)
1 cup (250ml) heavy cream

For the cakes:
1 1/4 cups (155gr) all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon (2gr) baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
pinch of salt
1/2 cup (100gr) mava, at room temperature
6 tablespoons (85gr) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (100gr) sugar
2 eggs
6 tablespoons whole milk
cashew halves (optional)

Prepare the mava:
Place the evaporated milk and heavy cream in a large stainless steel pot or wide saucepan (12-inch) with tall sides. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium high and let it cook, stirring more than occasionally for about 10 minutes. Turn the heat to medium and let the mixture cook for another 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture starts to thicken. Turn the heat to medium low and cook another 10 minutes. At this point, the mixture starts looking like a grainy butterscotch pudding. No worries, everything is going according to plan. Turn the heat down to low and continue cooking another 10-15 minutes. Do more than stirring occasionally there too: there is very little moisture left and the higher risks of scortching happen at that point.
The whole process should take about 50 minutes, pay close attention to the mixture during the first and last 10 minutes of cooking. The final consistency is that of a very thick pudding.
Let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate if not using right away. The mava can also be frozen for up to 3 months. With this mava recipe, you have 3/4 cup to 1 cup of mava, enough for 3 batches of cakes.

Prepare the cakes:

Preheat the oven to 350 and position a rack in the middle. 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, baking powder, cardamom and salt. Reserve. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or with hand held beaters), beat together the mava, butter and sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy. Turn the speed to low and add the eggs, one at a time and beating well after each addition. Still with the motor running on low, add the reserved flour mixture and the milk. Turn the speed back up to medium and beat until the mixture is smooth. Divide evenly among the prepared cake tins, top each with a cashew half if using and bake for 20-25minutes.


105 comments:

Yienching said...

oh Bina...
i really feel like making this right away after reading your words abt those sweet memories of yours.

Parita said...

Delicious mava cake...gorgeous clicks..i miss eating them..will def be making this..thanks a ton for sharing :)

Alexandra said...

Beautiful! So inviting, and the story that comes with it, is exactly what embodies connectedness! Had I not popped a pound cake in the oven 15 min ago, I would try the mava cake--which is interesting since i was wondering how if I could make a cake with cardamom this morning, well yesterday morning....
Here's to the beauty of friendships!

Botacook said...

La 1ère photo est superbe! J'adopte ces petits cakes pour accompagner un thé :)

A G Photography said...

The recipe is very curious and interesting, too bad we're not neighbours, really! But the photos! Wow, it seems you're becoming better and better with the camera.

morgana said...

This is the first time I read about mava cakes and I must say they look delicious.

Just one question. The recipe asks for two cans of evaporated milk, but they are 125 ml, 250 ml? Maybe evaporated milk cans here are different.

Congrats again not only for your great recipes and photos but for having such great friends to share the things you really like.

And thank you because... I finally got my pretty macarons !!!! (After nine attempts or so). They are so cute and I was so proud wen I saw them that I sent you and email just to say "thank you thank you thank you".

Bombay-Bruxelles said...

I can relate completely with Bina! Being from Bombay, I too miss the irani bakeries. Pity you cannot buy mava in Indian stores here (at least not in Brussels - but it's available in London)...

Vrunda said...

I am from Pune,India and have spent the growing up years in Mumbai. Till now I have tried couple of recipes of Mava cake, but nothing came close to those cakes from Parsi bakeries. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe, am sure going to try and will let you know....Your cupcake looks perfect as always. I love your work and admire your creativity.

Vrunda

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Fantastic! A delightful sweet treat! Your pictures are more stunning than ever!

Cheers,

Rosa

Deeba @Passionate About Baking said...

How interesting these are Helen. Been waiting to see them, & am left open mouthed! Good for Bina & good for you! This post is a heady combination of baking, blogging, friends, India, France...& food as the underlying passion! Just beautiful...I love it!!

Ria said...

WOW!! They look lovely Helen! Being an Indian I have never had this...lucky you!! :)

Hilda said...

Miam! Des caneles indiens so to speak. Je vais demander a A. si il en mangeait quand il etait petit. En tout cas I am definitely making these soon, yumm-o. And isn't it amazing how close our experiences can be while growing up on the other side of the world? =)

Manggy said...

Those sure are pretty! You used cannele molds? Very cute! I like the idea of a Maillard-reaction-ed milk mixture. Sounds sweet and sinful :)

Liska said...

How I love this window!

angela@spinachtiger said...

I'm fascinated and captivated to try. Your photograph is extra beautiful today.

Patricia Scarpin said...

Those are so precious, Helen! What a beautiful post, my dear.
I have never heard of mava cakes, but I know I would love them!

maybelle's mom said...

My family is from Bombay and I remember my aunts raving about the iranian recipes. Thank you so much for this recipe.

foodcreate said...

This is a hearty mava cake!Delicious.
Your photos are beautiful....

Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe:)

Thanks for stoping by :)
http://foodcreate.com ~~~

Sunshine said...

Goodness! Cardamom is one of my favorite spices, and these look so tempting. I'm sure these would be great with a nice cup of tea. I need a free day just so I can bake these and then sit and read a book while enjoying these sweet little cakes.

Kitchen Flavours said...

Luscious, alluring and tempting......

Amanda Nicole said...

What a lovely story - and with a delicious ending! I love, love, love cardamom and other Indian spices, this looks wonderful!

zoe said...

I love the story behind these mava cakes. What a beautiful friendship you two have. Looks delicious!

Mélanie said...

It's a beautiful post, and a great way to celebrate your friendship!
I don't know anything about Indian flavors, but this really makes me want to change that. I will probably try this recipe very soon. Just a few questions though : evaporated milk is lait concentré, right?
And do the cakes need to be baked in the same kind of tins as the pictures? Like for the cannelés? Or would a muffin pan be ok?
Thanks a lot for your help (it seems I'm asking you a lot of questions these days!)

Jenny said...

Sounds so delicious, how I love cardamom. I also love how the internet lets us meet people we would never have come across otherwise. I've made the most interesting friends this way, and I love that your post was also a tribute to that kind of occurrence.

Jen said...

These cakes sound amazing and I love the molds that you use. This is definitley going on the list to make soon.

Eléonora said...

In any case it's super nice of him and it looks like our barbed Bordeaux ... A kikouuuu de France********
En tous cas c'est super gentil de sa part et cela ressemble à nos cannelés de Bordeaux...Un kikouuuu de France

Barbara said...

Never heard of Mava cakes but I am enchanted! And I have cannele molds too!

Irene said...

These photos are just gorgeous and I can imagine the flavors being very lovely!

unconfidentialcook said...

I never knew about mava--thank you. Bet you could use it many ways.

Avanika [YumsiliciousBakes] said...

Great post. Living in Mumbai, I have full access to all the mawa cakes I want, and still yours tempt me big time. They look exactly like what we get at the bakeries. You and your friend did an awesome job :D

Jen Yu said...

Sounds fantastic and I just love the word MAVA. How nice. mava mava mava. Even better to taste? :) I agree with Mark - love that you used cannele molds to make these. The golden outer crust is beautiful and tempting and damn it all, I'm hungry now. You are not helping my ARP... xxoo

Ilaria said...

I love cardamomo,.. I can't wait to try this little cake.
Ilaria

The Duo Dishes said...

They almost look like cannelés. They sound delicious.

Jaime said...

Very, very pretty, Tartelette.

Anita said...

I love Indian spices! The shape of these reminds of canneles!

Nirmala said...

Thanks to Bina. I love the combo. And here in India you can buy the mava in super markets. And there are dozens of desserts made with this mava. Adding sugar and roasted cashews with powdered cardamom while cooking mava during the last 10-15 mins will create a delicious dessert which we call "palgova" pal meaning milk and gova is another name for mava :) This looks like a must try. Thanks Helen :)

Hayley said...

That first picture is so beautiful, and these cakes are too cute. Thanks for introducing me to mava!

anna said...

Those are adorable and sound lovely!

Aran said...

i had never heard of mava but it sounds like something i'd be licking right off the bowl. delicious tea cakes!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

What a lovely post. Thanks to you and Bina for sharing a bit of your friendship with us.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

It's so easy to see why you have so many lovely friends, Helen. You're just delightful, like all of your creations.

Purple Dots Cupcake said...

that is so sweet of bina! what is a mava anyway?

Mercotte said...

On v dire que ce sont de faux cannelés aux parfums envoutants !! superbe avec des photos qui comme toujours nous mettent l'eau à la bouche!

Tartelette said...

Purple Dots Cupcakes: it is explained if you click on "continue for recipes" hot link.

miss yerem said...

dear helen,
is evaporated milk the same as condensed milk, i.e. is it sugared?would love to make these so i jut want to check to be sure. thanks for your help!anja, tair@gmx.de

Miakoda said...

Same country, different planets?! I'm Indian, from the South and I've never heard of these. They look luscious! A must try.

ulije said...

Hi! I like your blog : it's amazing!
beautiful photo and appetizing recipes!

Tartelette said...

Melanie & miss yerem: they are not the same thing. Both versions have had about 60 percent of their water removed by evaporation. But that is where the similrity ends. Before evaporation, sugar is added to the future condensed milk, so it is about 65% sugar as opposed to the 10-12% of naturally occurring sugar in the boiled-down evaporated milk.
You may try the recipe with unsweetened condensed milk but I can't vouch for it since I have not tried it myself.
Or, you can make your own evaporated milk by reducing milk until it is about 1/2 its original quantity. The recipe calls for 28oz so you would have to simmer (not boil) 56oz of milk until reduced by half.

Aparna said...

These cakes are indeed wonderful, especially with tea. Not any tea, but strong, milky and spiced Irani chai.
You just reminded me I need to make some - the cakes and some tea. :)

Vera said...

Beautiful, Helen! Your photos are breathtakingly gorgeous!

vicki said...

Isn't it amazing the friendships you can make online? I'm glad you two met and formed such a bond. :) These photos are beautiful, Helen...thanks for sharing!

Dallas from Bitchin' Kitchen said...

I found this story very moving. It reminds me of a friend of mine in scotland who mails me treats. These photos are simply gorgeous.

Crystal said...

You have me not only wanting to try these, but planning on making them this weekend!

One thing: Is the first "a" long or short? I may be serving them to a bunch of copy editors on Monday morning...

theluxuriousvagabond said...

I saw the words "Indian" and "cardamom" and thought "Yum! This sounds delicious!". And they do look so delicious!
Are these mava cakes any way related to Canneles de Bordeaux? Their shapes resemble each other.

How To Eat A Cupcake said...

I'm so in love with their shape! :D

Sunshinemom said...

I have been missing a lot of your posts lately! This one is a real coincidence. I was just thinking the other day that I must interview and do a story on the Irani bakeries in Marine Lines! They are sort of 'heritage structures' as they have been around for so long, and the aroma that wafts out from these bakeries is so yum, you could use your nose as a guide and reach them! I must make these at home too - my children love them!

Tartelette said...

theluxuriousvagabond: they are completely different in taste and texture. I just used canele molds to help the "portion" control aspect of them, which did not help because I already ate more than I should have!

Tartelette said...

Sorry, I forgot to answer you Crystal:
the first "a" is long.

veron said...

Just from the descriptive background of the mava cake , I know I will love this. It even looks triply yummy in a canele mold.

andaoana said...

Could no resist and I am baking a batch right now. Can't wait to taste one. Thanks Helen for being so good.

Engineer Baker said...

How wonderful - I wish I had those memories to bake from, but I guess I'll have to live vicariously through you and Bina!

Sha said...

Love cardamom so much, especially in cakes :) I have to try yours, for sure!

Jenny said...

This looks totally delicious, and I love cardamom flavoured treats! I will have to try these for myself soon. Thanks Bina!

simplesong said...

perfect + lovely! happy weekend to you!

Navita (Gupta) Hakim said...

Helene....this post just reflects how deep a bond you and Bina have. She shares the name of a favourite aunt of mine...who co incidentally makes such wonderful mawa cake...sigh!

Love the clicks and especially the fact that food like love transcends borders! Cheers to friendship!!

Julie said...

As the last recipients of your last batch, I can attest that these are just divine!
We love Bina too because we get to try the wonderful spices and treats she sends!

Patricia said...

These look divine, I adore Indian desserts so I will definitely have to try my hand at these...thank you once again for your inspired recipes!

Maybe said...

Rien de tel que des expérimentations culinaires avec une amie ! J'adore ta première photo, elle est très douce et transcrit bien ce que j'imagine être l'atmosphère de ta maison... Jolie recette !

Katie said...

They look and sound wonderful. So dainty and elegant.

Joy said...

What a beautiful story - now I'm hungry and tea with cakes sounds divine!!!

Pinella said...

Your blog is very beautiful....Baci cari

Mélanie said...

Thank you! I'll try to make them with both, evaporated milk & unsweetened condensed milk, to taste the difference. Hopefully next week...

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Ahem, you know I must make these. So fine.

Julia @ Imagelicious said...

These sounds lovely. I've never tried any indian desserts, but I am sure these mava cakes taste amazing. I'll try making them when I have some time to make mava.

Brandy said...

I love anything with cardamom - I just made chai marshmallows with extra cardamom! Definitely bookmarking this recipe, they sound lovely!

pastry studio said...

Just the sound of these is mouthwatering. Your pictures make them even more so. I can't wait to try these unusual treats. Lovely! A special thanks to Bina.

Maya said...

Hi

Lovely looking cakes. Can u replace mava with milk powder?

Y said...

Bookmarked! Sounds so interesting. I'm looking forward to trying this. Thanks to you and Bina for sharing this.

Tartelette said...

Maya: Short answer: no. Long answer: mava is the result of boiling down milk so that it forms a paste. Once reduced the milk forms a paste that contains both milk solids and fats. It also takes on a natural caramel color and flavor that is very distinct. You could take it away completely and use the same amount in butter but the cakes would be an entirely different beast and not mava cakes anymore.
Hope that helps.

Anonymous said...

Love love love your shots on these little precious tea cakes! I love tea cakes....they just remind me of simple moments with great company and thought provoking conversations.....Fun!

Thanks for sharing, as always!

Mahek said...

HI
great to see your post of our Indian Mawa cakes....
I remember visiting such a bakery when i just started working at grant road called MERWANS which makes these delicious mawa cakes which just disappear off the shelf in no time , and you have to be at the bakery in time to buy them.

Mango Power Girl said...

Does Bina have a blog? :) she's bringing back memories & thank you for such a lovely visual. I wish you could go to India and have a taste of the real mawa...you will be in love.

Mélanie said...

I brought them to my colleagues last week, and they loved them. I used unsweetened condensed milk, so I don't know if it was the same as you made, with evaporated milk. They rose a lot in the oven, I wonder why... They did not look as pretty as yours, but I really liked the texture! Very good recipe...

Risa said...

I recently got my hands on a large jar of cardamom so I hunted down recipes where I could use it.

I followed your recipe to the letter and baked these in large (jumbo) muffin molds so I came out with six. The crumb turned out very fine and the weight almost like pound cake. The cardamom was very subtle.

Today, I was afraid the rest of the mava would spoil on me so I made another go. The mava (which I stored in the ref) had some crytals in it (not sugar, I think, since they weren't sweet) and despite being in an airtight container lost some moisture so it took a lot of time to blend it with the butter.

I added nuts to the batter and increased the baking powder to 1 teaspoon. I live in a muggy area, and the previous mava cakes I made sucked up the moisture in the air so fast. They turned out well too still with a fine tight crumb with a better rise. I took them out of the muffin pans (12 cup this time), and they were starting to get tacky on top already-I like it when that happens.

Thanks for the recipe.

jayasri said...

hi helen, first time here, I mean I visited your blog few times, twice I tried to write but it wouldn't open, I came to your blog through daring bakers group, on hearing so much about you and your baking, always read about you in Aparna's blog, she is my mentor in the baking world, I must thank her for introducing me to this group and that's how I tumbled into your blog, I am amazed at your baking so perfectly and your clicks, they are like signatured as helen's, and your great presentation skills, every thing is so perfect, coming back to the recipe, I baked this Indian mava cake it came out very well, thanks to you and your friend bina for sharing this recipe, my kids & friends loved it will be posting it soon in my blog, my macaroons were a disaster, hope I could ask you for some tips about it too.., I did not have the mould with which you did these cakes so I took your advice and baked it in muffin cases.., thanks once again, hoping to bake one by one from your blog

Shamira said...

Hi Helen,
I was looking for a recipe to prepare "Mava". Your recipe looks wonderful. I'm gonna try it tonight.
I happened to visit a bakery in Mumbai called "Merwans". They prepare the best Mawa cakes in the entire Mumbai (I may take up the liberty to say, in India.)Ignoring the calory count, i ended up eating 6 in a go. I was blessed by the sugar god!
Wonderful blog. Looking forward to try some more cakes in the list.
Shamira

Indrani said...

can you pls mention how much measure of mava goes into the cake as mava is readily available.

Helene said...

Indrani: the mixture reduces to about 3/4 cup to 1 cup of mava which yields 3 batches so about 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup per batch.

Sumayya said...

Hi Helen,

Made the mawa cakes tonight... they were phenomenal.... exactly as I remembered from my childhood in Mumbai...Thanx for sharing the fabulous recipe.

Melissa said...

I'm a little confused. Is it 1/4 - 1/3 cup or 1/2 cup of mava as you said in the recipe? Sorry, just wanted to make this recipe soon and get the measurement right.

Helene said...

Melissa: The mava recipe makes about 3/4 cup to 1 cup total which is enough for 3 batches of cakes. So 1/4 cup per batch of cakes (or a rounded 1/4 cup if you end up with 1 cup of mava after it's done cooking)

Kulsum@JourneyKitchen said...

Helene,

honestly this would be not the place I could expect this Indian recipe, even though you are the queen of all thing sweets :-) I'm so *happy* u posted them!

♥Sugar♥Plum♥Fairy♥ said...

I loveee ur blog and ur delicious goodies and stunning photography:-)
It would never be enough , however muc i repeat my self :-)
And i have already bothered ya before, but can i pleaseee ask u about these canele molds too?
Where did u get them or what brand are they so i can pick them too:-)
The size is perfect and pretty.
WOnderful day and happy sunshine.

Helene said...

Sugar Plum Fairy: They are silicone molds that my mom picked up in France from Mafter.

♥Sugar♥Plum♥Fairy♥ said...

Helene that was really quick ,thannxx a bunch lods :-)
Ok found them online , they are the mini ones no?
Mia.

Sneh | Cook Republic said...

I grew up in Mumbai too and miss these mava-cakes from the quaint little Parsi bakeries there! Thanks for sharing, I always wondered where I could get mava, sometimes even using baked ricotta instead. Can't wait to try your version :-)

KP said...

thank you bina and helen,
i made these for a cricket party and was well received by the fans... everyone enjoyed it... i guess i better start making more mawa for the final world cup party tomorrow.
thanks again

Preeti Edul said...

The cakes turned out oh-so-perfect ! This is a fabulous recipe, followed each step exactly as stated et voila! No modification needed.

I have never ever made a cake that tasted and felt so good before, I am so happy :)

'Chai', cake and the Arabian see sound perfect, though I'm going to have to make do with the Hudson ;)

Thank you both !

Mover Packer said...

I miss eating them..will def be making this..thanks a ton for sharing

Dipti said...

First timer to your blog...but found the recipe I was looking for...shall be making them this weekend...thnx Helen

Valsa Terron said...

Two of your readers mentioned Merwans, a bakery in a place called Grant Road in Mumbai, and I have to say that they are right...Merwan's makes THE best mawa cakes in the whole wide world!!! I now live in the United States an was craving these very cakes when i came upon your blog while looking for a mawa cake recipe :) I'm so excited...will definitely try it out this week and let you know how it turns out!

Angira Tendulkar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rita said...

Wonderful Mava Cakes. They are so good. Didyou know B Merwans in Mumbai is closing March 2014?

I make them on order in the US. email me Rita@ParsiCuisine.com

samy said...

Hi mava cake looks so yummy. can we make it with out eggs.

Helene said...

samy: I have never tried so I can't say whether it would work. If you try without eggs, please let me know how you fared.

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