How to make this Indonesian street food favourite, Martabak Manis, or thick sweet pancakes.
Today we’re making Martabak Manis, or thick Indonesian sweet pancakes. This popular street snack have variations across Southeast Asia, in Singapore and Malaysia, these are also known as Appam Balik or Mi Jiang Kueh.
While also a sweet dessert, Appam Balik and Mi Jiang Kueh are definitely not as sinful as the Indonesian version, which is usually slathered with TONS of butter, sweet toppings and always topped with sweet condensed milk – oh, and LOADED with sugar. It’s super easy to make actually, and the plus side of making it yourself is you get to control the amount of sinful ingredients – or not, I’m not judging.
What Toppings for Martabak Manis?
My choice of topping is cheddar cheese and Nutella, but the toppings are totally up to you. in Indonesia, cheese, Ceres brand of chocolate sprinkles and chopped nuts are the usual toppings that you can choose. I added Nutella for the sake of a chocolatey photo, but I’ll be honest, I love just cheddar cheese on my Martabak. The salty umaminess of the cheese offsets all those sweet, cloying flavours so beautifully well – but that’s just me.
With Appam Balik and Mi Jiang Kueh, chocolate and chopped nuts with sugar are a common topping. There is also a red bean paste option, which I adore.
How to get a Dense, Spongy but Soft Texture
Unlike a regular, fluffy pancake, Martabak Manis is dense, bouncy, but soft. It is also airy. Complicated pancake, I know.
The first time I made this, I had tough pancakes. The taste was there, but the texture was off. Turns out I’m a weak whisker. So whisk it hard, and put some muscle in it. Or better yet, use an electrical mixer and save the sweat.
The resting process of 1 to 2 hours is also crucial. Resting will allow the gluten in the batter to develop. The gluten is what makes the pancake dense and chewy.
How to Achieve a “holey” Martabak Manis
To get a “holey” pancake, make sure pan is super hot, before pouring batter in. If it’s not hot enough, it will not get a good reaction out of the baking soda mixture. This is also why you only add the baking soda mixture right before cooking.
You want to let a lot of bubbles surface in the medium heat WHILE making sure the heat is not too high, or you might burn the pancake.
Once you’re satisfied with the amount of bubbles, that’s when you lower the heat, and sprinkle on the sugar. The sugar will also help to pop more bubbles in the pancake.
Best Pan for Martabak Manis
The pans used in the real Martabak Manis stalls are heavy, thick cast iron pans which retain heat for long, and can create good pancake each time. Therefore, a heavy bottomed, non-stick pan is recommended. If using a non-stick pan, or cast iron pan, you can wipe on neutral-tasting oil. Butter will be good too, but keep a close eye on the heat so that you don’t burn the butter.
My batter is good for one big pancake, using a 10-inch pan. If use a smaller pan, such as an 8-inch, you should be able to get two pancakes out of the batter.
If all you have is a regular frying pan, then no worries! Use less batter, so it’s not a thick pancake. This will let you have more control over the pancake batter. Keep a close watch over the pancake too, and immediately turn down the heat once a lot of holes start to develop. You do not want to burn the pancake.
“My Martabak Manis is not Perfect”
I’ve gone through a LOT of Martabak Manis where the holes do not form… Guess what? I still had it anyway and they were delicious! Martabak Manis is not an effortless pancake, for sure, and a lot of factors play into its final “holey” form, such as having the right pan, right timing, right heat distribution.
More Recipes Like This
If you love this Martabak Manis recipe, you might enjoy these:
Martabak Manis (Indonesian thick sweet pancakes)Course: Uncategorized
225g Plain Flour
1 tsp Vanilla Essence
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Baking soda + 1-2 tbsps Water
Extra Sugar for Sprinkling
2 tbsps Nutella
2 tbsps Cheddar Cheese
2 tbsps Condensed Milk
- Whisk together egg, sugar and vanilla essence until well incorporated.
- Sift in flour and add salt. Gradually add water and whisk well.
- Cover and let it rest for 1 to 2 hours. You can prepare this batter beforehand. Keep in the fridge if you want to keep it for longer.
- 1 to 2 hours later, there should be some bubbles forming in the batter. Prepare baking soda and water mixture. Gently stir into the batter.
- Let non-stick pan get hot on medium heat. Make sure pan is hot enough by splashing some water. Water should evaporate immediately. Do not let it get too hot – there should not be smoke rising in pan.
- Once pan is hot, pouring in batter. Swivel pan to form a crust.
- Leave it alone, and let holes develop.
- Once pancake has lots of holes, but the batter is still wet on top, lower the heat. Sprinkle sugar on top.
- Cover the pan with a lid, so the steam can finish cooking the top of the pancake.
- Pancake is done once the top is fully cooked and there is no wet batter.
- Pancake should slide out easily. Slather with butter, and cut in half.
- Spread on toppings of choice and top with condensed milk.
- Flip one side of the pancake so it forms a sandwich.
- Pancake done!