Martabak Manis: Indonesian sweet thick pancake recipe

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Martabak Manis is the Indonesian version of sweet thick pancakes with some toppings of your favourite. It’s soft but fluffy. And it has a little bit elastically chewiness that makes the pancake is just moreish with all those luscious fillings. Simply yummy.

Martabak Manis - Indonesian sweet thick pancake

Martabak Manis

Martabak Manis is a very thick sweet pancake with a sweet chocolatey and nutty filling. It has a squishy and buttery texture. 

It 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 peanut filling. It has a fluffy and chewy texture with a rich buttery and sweet flavor.

Indonesian pancake with overlay text

This sweet street food was introduced by Arab traders and is very popular in the Arab peninsula and Southeast Asian countries such as Yemeni, Saudi Arabia, India, Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia, Thailand, etc. The food is called Murtabak – from the word Mutabbaq, which 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.

Whatever word you use to call it, I can assure you that this thick squishy buttery sweet pancake is one street food you would like to try. It’s just deliciously moreish.

Not as easy as a pancake

Anyway, here, I’m sharing with you the recipe for the Indonesian sweet Martabak. 

Although you might think that it is easy to make this sweet thick pancake, it is not as easy as making ordinary pancakes, i.e. American pancakes or English pancakes.

Making this Martabak Manis is actually tricky. 

Because of its thickness, it can be difficult to get the pancake to 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 special pan that is a very heavy bottom cast-iron pan. So the distribution of the heat to the pancake is pretty stable and even. 

And 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 either burning 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 the right fluffiness and texture that not only is it soft, but it is also a bit elastically chewy.

Key Ingredients

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 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 fillings. 

However, you can put all sorts of filling 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. 

  1. Chopped peanuts, chocolate (chips or sprinkles), and condensed milk.
  2. Banana slices, chocolate, and condensed milk.
  3. Banana slices, grated cheddar cheese, and condensed milk.
  4. Chocolate spread, grated cheddar cheese, and condensed milk.
  5. Chocolate (chips or sprinkles) and condensed milk.
  6. Peanut butter and chocolate spread.
  7. Peanut butter and jam/jelly.

How to make the batter

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 a stand mixer to get your mixture well blended.

flour and water in a bowl
pancake batter

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.

thick batter
pancake batter in a bowl covered with a plate

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.

How to cook Martabak using an ordinary frying pan

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.

three bowls of pancake batter
martabak batter

Then heat your frying pan at moderate-low heat using the smallest ring of stove fire/ cooker. At the same time, mix ¼ teaspoon of baking powder and ¼ teaspoon of baking soda with 1 tablespoon of water. 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 fast, you can pour your pancake mixture into the pan. Slowly rotate the pan so that the edges are covered with the batter halfway. Then let it cook at moderate-high heat. And rotate the pan every now and again to ensure it gets heated evenly.

When the pancake surface is fully covered with bubbles, and it is more than halfway cooked, sprinkle one teaspoon of sugar over the pancake.

 Then put the lid back on before turning the heat down.

Again, you must keep rotating the pan so the heat won’t be concentrated in one place.

martabak manis batter on the frying pan
half cooked pancake on the pan
pancake on the pan with a lid on
ready-made martabak manis

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.

Fill your Martabak

Place your Martabak on a chopping board.

Then spread generous butter on it 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 fold it 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 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 and rotating 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 has enough heat for the rising 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.

More sweet street food recipes

If you want more ideas for Indonesian sweet street food recipes, you can check out Bubur Kacang Hijau – Indonesian mung bean dessert, Crispy and fluffy Potato Donuts, Serabi Kuah, Kolak Biji Salak, Klepon, or Gemblong.

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 would be great if you share what you think about the recipe in the comments below.

    Last but not least, please follow me on Facebook, Instagram and/or Pinterest. To sneak a peek at what’s cooking in my kitchen. 

    Take care and all the best.

    4 pieces of Martabak Manis on a white plate
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    4.39 from 39 votes

    Martabak Manis

    Martabak Manis is the Indonesian version of sweet thick pancakes with some toppings of your favourite. It's soft but fluffy. And it has a little bit elastically chewiness that makes the pancake is just moreish with all those luscious fillings. Simply yummy.
    Author: Devy Dar
    Prep Time15 minutes
    Cook Time30 minutes
    Additional Time2 hours
    Total Time2 hours 45 minutes
    Course: Sweets & Desserts
    Cuisine: Indonesian
    Servings: 15

    Equipment

    • Mixing bowls.
    • Handheld mixer
    • Wooden spoon
    • Chopping board
    • Frying pan heavy bottom pan with lid, or a cast iron skillet.
    • Spatula
    • Kitchen knife

    Ingredients

    • 2 ¼ cups plain flour/ all-purpose flour.
    • ¼ cup granulated sugar.
    • 2 tablespoons tapioca flour.
    • 2 eggs.
    • 1 ¼ cups water.
    • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract.
    • ¾ teaspoon baking powder.
    • ¾ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda).
    • 3 tablespoons water.

    For toppings:

    • ½ cup butter.
    • cup condensed milk.
    • ½ cup milk chocolate chopped.
    • ½ cup roasted peanuts chopped.

    Instructions

    • In a mixing bowl, put the plain flour, sugar and tapioca flour. Stir well until all combined.
    • Make a well in the centre of the flour, then put the eggs, vanilla extract and water in. Using a whisk, a handheld mixer, a handheld blender, or a stand mixer, beat and mix the mixture until smooth. Then using a big spoon, keep stirring and beat the butter mixture. Press it against the bowl as you mix. Keep mixing for about 7-10 minutes until the mixture is smooth, sticky and slightly gooey. Set aside and leave it to rest in a warm temperature area for about 1-2 hours.
    • When your Martabak batter is ready to cook, divide it into equal three parts.
    • Get your 18 cm dia heavy bottom frying pan ready. And heat it up at moderate-high heat. Test with a drop of water on the pan. If the water evaporates quickly, it means your pan is ready.
    • Whilst your pan is heating up, put ¼ tsp of baking powder and ¼ tsp of baking soda in a little bowl. Then mix in one tablespoon of water. Stir until all the raising agents dissolve. And then quickly pour in one of the batter mixtures as you stir and mix using a big spoon. Make sure all the liquid blends with the batter.
    • Carefully pour the mixture on the hot pan and gently twirl and rotate the pan so that the mixture will cover at least half of the height of the pan’s edges. Then let it cook at moderate-low to moderately high heat. You also want to keep moving the pan to ensure the heat distribution is even on every part of the pan.
    • When the pancake’s surface is covered with bubbles, and the pancake is half cooked, sprinkle 1 teaspoon of sugar on it. Then put the lid on the pan and leave it to cook at low heat. Again, you may want to keep rotating the pan to make sure the heat evenly spreads.
    • Once the Martabak is cooked, tease the edges with a spatula and take the Martabak off the pan. Put it on a chopping board, then spread some butter on the pancake and drizzle the condensed milk over it. Sprinkle your preferred toppings. I use chopped peanuts and chopped milk chocolate.
    • Afterwards, cut the pancake at the middle and fold it over into half. Spread some more butter, this time on both sides of the folded pancake. Finally, cut your Martabak into small pieces. I make about 5-6 pieces for an 18 cm dia size of Martabak.
    • Continue to cook the rest of the batter following step 5-9.

    Notes

    • Working on mixing and stirring the batter is crucial. Make sure you spend at least 5 minutes after you whisk the ingredients into a smooth mixture.
    • Make sure you let the batter rest in a warm temperature. If you have a light bulb in your oven, you can leave the batter to rest in it, with the bulb on. If not, you can turn the oven on for about 5 minutes at gas 3, then switch it off. Then put the mixing bowl in the oven with the door left slightly ajar.
    • The key to getting your Martabak fluffy with lots of bubbles is the heat distribution. So you will have to keep rotating the pan at the same time you play with the heat level. I turn the heat from low to moderate-high every so often. 
    • Don’t sprinkle the sugar too early. Make sure you wait until more than ¾ of the pancake surface is filled with bubbles. 

    Nutrition

    Serving: 1g | Calories: 276kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 43mg | Sodium: 126mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 11g

    Disclaimer

    Nutritional info in this recipe is only estimate using online calculator. You should refer to it as a guide only. Please verify with your own data if you seek an accurate info.

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    12 Comments

    1. any video on this? or can i learn it from u personally?
      i am an indonesian grown up in singapore. truly love indonesia martabak and just could not find any shops that sell one that is close to the taste here in Singapore.

      1. Hi, sorry for the late reply. Making videos is one big homework for me to do at the moment. So please watch the space as I will do the video for martabak as well though I can not tell when it will be ready. I know how you feel about missing the food that tastes close to home. This is one of the reasons I created this blog. Take care.

      1. Hi, in my opinion, there can be several reasons why your martabak doesn’t rise. Firstly, your flour and raising agents (baking soda and/or baking powder) may not be as fresh. After a while, these items can go stale and difficult to work with if you want them for fluffy food. Secondly, your batter may not have enough gluten to rise. Make sure you mix the batter long enough until it is really smooth, sticky and gooey a little bit. I usually stir the batter with a big wooden spoon for another 7-10 minutes after I whisk it with the mixer. We want to encourage the gluten in the flour to develop as it helps the batter to rise and react chemically better with raising agents. Thirdly, the temperature in your kitchen may be too cold for the gluten to develop in the batter so it needs to rest longer than the suggested time. Last but not least, your pan may not be hot enough when you start cooking your martabak.
        I hope that helps.

    2. Hi, is there anything that could be used instead of the tapioca flour? I can’t find a shop that sells it in the UK.

      1. Hi, you can find tapioca flour at Chinese Asian shops in the UK. That’s where I usually get mine. However, many say that cornflour, potato flour and arrowroot flour can be good substitutes for tapioca. Disclaimer though, I never use this substitute for making Martabak so I can not speak for myself. Let me know how it gets on if you do replace tapioca flour with any options above. I would love to know the outcome. Good luck.

    3. James Jordan Greenwell says:

      I made one batch using the cups measurements and the resulting batter was really watery. So then I used gram measurements and this time the batter was smooth sticky and gooey. I just looked it up, and I think 300g of flour is 2.4 cups :/

      1. Thank you for your feedback. I did retest the measurement. It was my mistake not to mention the original cup measurement was based on filling the cup packed and pressing so the amount of flour will be equal to 300 grams. However, to make things easier, I amended the cup measurement. I think 2¼ cups was the closest conversion, and it gave me good results too. The new pics were the proof that the new measurements work. Again, thank you for your feedback. And most of all, for trying this recipe. All the best.

    4. Hi can I use the hand mixer to mix for another 7 to 10 mins for the gluten development?

      1. Yes, you can. Hand mixer, stand mixer, or even a hand blender can do the job. If you check the post (not the recipe card), I have explained it there. Good luck.

    5. Christina says:

      5 stars
      It’s fun to learn to make something new. Our neighborhood is having an Indonesian dinner tonight and this was one of the simpler dessert recipes I found. I followed the recipe exactly but because I only had a larger pan, I cooked it in two batches instead of three. It looks just like yours and tastes very nice.

      1. Aww well done. That’s amazing you got it right the first time. I’m so happy you found the martabak nice. Hope you’ll try and like other Indonesian recipes too. All the best.

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