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Martabak Manis is the Indonesian version of sweet and thick pancakes with a variety of fillings. The most sought-after one is the one with chocolate and peanuts filling. It has a fluffy and chewy texture with a rich buttery and sweet flavour.
This sweet street food was introduced by the Arab traders and very popular in the Arab peninsula and South-East Asian countries such as Yemeni, Saudi Arabia, India, Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia, Thailand, etc. The food is called Murtabak – from the word Mutabbaq, that means folding.
Interestingly, in Malaysia it is called Apam Balik, Apam Pinang, or Apong. Whilst in Singapore it is called peanut pancakes or Min Jiang Kueh.
Anyway, here, I’m sharing with you the recipe of Indonesian sweet Martabak.
Although you might think that it is easy to make this sweet thick pancake, it is actually tricky. Because of its thickness, it can be difficult to get the pancake rise properly without getting the bottom bit burned. And this is simply to do with the equipment that we use.
You see, the Martabak sellers in Indonesia use a very heavy bottom cast-iron pan. So the distribution of the heat to the pancake is pretty stable and even.
Having said that, I only have a regular non-stick pan at home. Though it claims to be a heavy-bottom pan, I don’t think its thickness matches the pan that those Martabak sellers have.
So, my early attempts at making it mostly ended up in either burned at the bottom of the pancake or the hard-chewy texture of the pancake.
After countless trials and feeling unsatisfactory, I finally found the recipe that I will be happily making again and again.
This recipe gives Martabak with the right fluffiness and texture that not only is it soft, but it is also a bit elastically chewy. It reminds me of my favourite Martabak Bangka that I used to get when I studied at Uni in Bandung.
Just like other types of pancakes, to make Martabak you need flour, eggs, and raising agents. Instead of using milk, you only need water to mix and emulsify everything.
But you need a little bit of tapioca flour to give an elasticity and chewiness to the pancake.
The toppings variety
Traditionally, Indonesians put plenty of butter, lots of chocolate sprinkles, chopped peanuts and generous drizzles of condensed milk as the toppings.
However, you can put all sorts of topping varieties for Martabak Manis.
Here are some of the combos that you may want to try. I promise you they’re all such a delight to have.
- Chopped peanuts, chocolate (chopped or sprinkles), and condensed milk.
- Banana slices, chocolate and condensed milk.
- Banana slices, grated cheddar cheese and condensed milk.
- Chocolate spread, grated cheddar cheese and condensed milk.
- Chocolate (chopped or sprinkles) and condensed milk.
- Peanut butter and chocolate spread.
- Peanut butter and jam/jelly.
How to make a thick pancake
Just like making any pancake, firstly, you mix all the ingredients except raising agents into a smooth batter. You can use a hand whisk, a handheld blender, a hand mixer, or stand mixer to get your mixture well blended.
Then using a big spoon, keep mixing and stirring for about five minutes to help the gluten in the flour develop better.
When you finish mixing the mixture, let it rest for at least one hour. I often do it for almost two hours. Once I stretched it nearly three hours just because I was too busy to attend to the batter. And it worked just fine.
While you wait for your flour mixture to rest, you can get your toppings/ fillings ready.
This recipe is enough to make 2 x 20 cm/ 7.87-inch in diameter pancakes or 3 pancakes of 15 cm/ 5.9 inch in diameter.
Once your batter is ready to cook, divide the batter into equal portions of the pancake sizes you want. And get your frying pan and its lid ready accordingly.
Then you heat your frying pan at moderate-low heat using the smallest ring of stove fire/ cooker. At the same time, you mix ¼ teaspoon of baking powder and ¼ teaspoon of baking soda with 1 tablespoon of water. And quickly but carefully stir this raising agent mixture into one portion of the batter.
Check your pan with a drop of water. If the water evaporates quickly, you can pour your pancake mixture into the pan. Slowly rotate the pan so that the edges are covered with the batter half-way. Then let it cook at moderate-high heat.
When the surface is fully covered with bubbles, and it is more than half-way cooked, sprinkle one teaspoon of sugar over the pancake. And put the lid on the pan then turn the heat down.
It takes me about a couple of minutes until my thick pancake is fully cooked and ready.
Using a spatula, tease the edge of your Martabak and take it off the pan. Place it on a chopping board.
Then spread a generous butter on the pancake and put any toppings that you like. I mostly use chopped roasted peanuts, chopped milk chocolate and plenty of condensed milk drizzles.
Once you are happy with your toppings, cut the pancake in the middle and carefully folded into a half-circle. Again, spread a generous butter on both sides of your folded thick pancake. Last but not least, cut it into small pieces. Mine gives about 5 portions.
Enjoy your Martabak Manis with your cup of tea or coffee.
Top tips for making softly squishy Martabak
- Once your batter is smooth, you would want to keep working on it by mixing and stirring it using a big spoon. It takes me about 5-7 minutes to do it. But please don’t skip this. Because this helps the batter to develop gluten better that it will work nicely with the raising agent. So your Martabak will have hundreds of bubbles, and it will have a fluffy yet elastically soft and chewy texture.
- This resting period is needed for the gluten to develop. So don’t miss this out.
- Ideally, you use a heavy bottom pan. But you can use your non-stick pan like mine too. Just make sure you don’t overheat the pan before cooking and keep turning the heat up and down as you cook your pancake.
- Keep moving your pan around the heat as you turn the heat higher and lower. The reason is you want to make sure the pan is not overheated and have enough heat for the raising agents in the batter to react. Never leave the pancake unattended. Otherwise, your pancake won’t rise evenly high, and it won’t be evenly cooked.
Thank you for reading this post. I hope you’re now intrigued to try this Martabak Manis recipe. I’ve tried many times and had many failures. So I truly hope you won’t fail and will succeed right from the first try.
It will be great if you share what you think about the recipe in the comments below.
Before you go, don’t forget to check out my other street food/ Jajan Pasar recipes that you may love.
- Bubur Kacang Hijau – Indonesian mung bean dessert.
- Crispy and fluffy Potato Donuts.
- Serabi Kuah – Indonesian pancakes with palm sugar syrup and coconut milk.
- Kolak Biji Salak – Indonesian sweet potato balls in palm sugar and coconut milk.
- Klepon – Indonesian glutinous rice balls with palm sugar filling and coconut.
- Gemblong – Indonesian sweet treat made of glutinous rice and coated with brown sugar.
Thank you and all the best.