Martabak Manis is a very popular sweet treat in Indonesia, consists of a thick and sweet chewy pancake with honeycomb texture, soaked in butter inside and out and filled with generous fillings. This dessert is guaranteed to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Martabak Manis is one of the guiltiest pleasure desserts, sinful but heavenly delicious. It is started by cooking the pancake batter until the center puffs up with tiny holes. Next, spoonfuls of butter will be spread on the hot pancake, and it will melt quickly. Toppings are added on top and drizzled with condensed milk. Then, the pancake is folded, slathered with more butter, and cut into bite-size.
The key to a good martabak is to spread a lot of butter and sprinkle the toppings generously. Roasted peanut-chocolate sprinkles combo and grated cheddar cheese are the most common topping in Indonesia. The rich, buttery, sweet taste with a fluffy and chewy texture is what makes Martabak Manis so addictive.
What is Martabak?
The name “martabak” is derived from the Arabic word “murtabak“, which means “folded”. The dish was reportedly introduced to Southeast Asia by Tamil Muslim traders.
It is popular street food in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. There are two categories of martabak in Indonesia:
- Martabak manis. Thick and sweet pancake with fillings. The Indonesian pancake has the particularity of having the honeycomb texture.
- Martabak telur. A savory, crispy deep-fried pancake that consists of eggs, meat, and green onions.
Other Names of Martabak Manis
These thick sweet pancakes are known as martabak manis, martabak terang bulan, martabak Bangka, or kue Bandung in Indonesia. It is certainly also known by many names in other countries such as apam balik in Malaysia and min jiang kueh in Singapore. In the Hokkien dialect, this dessert is also called ban jian kueh.
- Pancake. The pancake is made with basic ingredients like flour, egg, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. It is thick, dense, bouncy, soft, and has honeycomb textures. It also has a crispy crust on the edges.
- Fillings. When the pancake is cooked, butter is spread on top. Then, generous fillings are added on top along with condensed milk.
Popular Topping Variations
- Chocolate sprinkles
- Chopped roasted peanuts
- Grated cheddar cheese
- Sliced banana
- Crushed Oreo
- Cream cheese
- Sweet corn
How to Make Martabak Manis
- In a large bowl, whisk together all-purpose flour, salt, sugar, egg, vanilla extract, and water until well combined.
- Whisk for another 10 minutes to make the chewier pancake. Don’t skip this step! Cover and rest the batter for at least 1 hour.
- When you are ready to cook, preheat the pan on low-medium heat. While you are preheating the pan, combine water, baking powder, and baking soda in a small bowl. Pour the mixture into the batter. Whisk until well combined.
- Pour half of the batter into a heavy-bottomed 9.5-inch/24 cm non-stick pan. Then, rotate the pan to spread the batter to the edges. This will make the crispy crust later.
- After some time, you will see air bubbles coming out to the top. These bubbles are your honeycomb texture later on. Leave the pancake to cook until it is half done. Then, sprinkle 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar on top. The sugar will help to pop the bubbles faster.
- Cover the pan with a lid. Lower the heat to low heat and cook until the top is no longer wet.
- Release the pancake from the pan onto a cutting board. While the pancake is still hot, immediately cut into halves with a knife. Spread 2 tablespoons of butter on top. The butter will melt into the holes. Add toppings and drizzle with condensed milk.
- Flip a half over the other half. Spread the top with more butter.
- Lastly, cut into 8 pieces with a knife. Serve and enjoy!
Tips on How to Make Martabak Manis Successfully At Home
Making martabak is actually pretty tricky. It can be difficult to get the pancake to rise properly without getting the bottom bit burned. Follow these tips to help you make the recipe successfully at home:
- Whisk the batter for 10 minutes. This is not your typical pancake where you don’t want to overmix the batter. You want some gluten to form to get the nice chewy texture of the classic martabak.
- Rest the batter. You need to let the batter rest for at least 1 hour to allow the gluten to relax and the starch grains to swell. This step will make the pancake more likely to come out fluffy and soft.
- Add the baking powder and baking soda at the end. Baking powder and baking soda are chemical leavening agents that cause the batter to rise when cooked. They are responsible for the formation of small holes on the surface. Add them at the end to prevent them from reacting during resting.
- Use the right pan size. This recipe makes 2 martabaks using a 9.5-inch/24 cm pan. If you use anything smaller, the pancake will be too thick. It will take longer to cook and probably get burnt on the bottom. However, if using a bigger pan, the pancake may be too thin.
- Use a heavy-bottomed non-stick pan. Use a heavy-bottomed pan so the distribution of heat is pretty stable and even. It also prevents the pancake from getting burnt quickly. Moreover, use a good non-stick pan to prevent the pancake from sticking to the pan.
- Preheat the pan. Make sure the pan is hot before pouring the batter in, so the baking powder and soda instantly react and form air bubbles. This is the key to getting the signature honeycomb texture.
- Control the heat. You don’t want the pan to be overheated or the pancake will get burnt. Use low-medium heat at the beginning and lower to the low heat during the end of cooking. You may keep moving your pan around the heat to make sure it is evenly cooked if necessary.