Crispy Bacon & Banana Martabak

May 17, 2023
3 Ratings
Photo by Mandy Lee
  • Prep time 2 hours
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • makes 1 (8x8-inch) cake
Author Notes

This is a hybrid recipe between Indonesian- and Hong Kong-style martabak, switching from using wheat flour to mainly tapioca starch, which makes the cake less pancake-y and more chewy. The use of yeast (instead of relying completely on baking powder and baking soda) also adds more flavor to the cake. All in all, it creates this unique crumb with vertical air shafts that are perfect for housing an obscene amount of butter (ok, it’s only 3 tablespoons, but if you want to up it to 4 or 5 tablespoons like how it’s actually done in indonesia, go for it). Together with the salty sweetness of roasted peanut dark brown sugar, it is the definition of a perfect coffee companion. But if you want to add crispy bacon and banana to kick it to another level, you won’t get any objections from me.

Notes: The signature characteristic of a successful martabak is the vertical air “shafts” throughout the entire cake (they will become little “butter chambers;” you’ll see). To achieve this, a few things have to go right. One, your batter cannot be too thick. You must cook it with bottom-concentrated heat, allowing the top surface to remain liquid long enough that the bubbles can make their way to the top. Two, the heat has to be controlled and adjusted as well. I find that cooking it over the stove will burn the bottom way too easily, whereas in the oven, I have to leave the oven door slightly open so the top doesn’t cook prematurely. All in all, it’s not something that is fool-proof. But if you pay attention to each detail, you’ll be rewarded—I promise. —Mandy @ Lady and pups

Test Kitchen Notes

Traditionally, as Mandy references in her notes, a martabak is made on the stove using concentrated heat from the bottom of the pan to slowly cook the batter, resulting in the air shafts, or holes, throughout as the bottom sets before the top of the martabak cooks through—similar to that of a pancake.

To accomplish this feat using the oven for this recipe, the technique relies on the bottom heat of the oven—directly placing and heating the pan on the bottom of the oven, not the bottom rack—and using the pilot light of a gas-run stove to recreate the slow bottom-up cooking process. If you have an electrical oven, an oven that doesn't have a top/bottom heat setting, or a smart oven that will automatically turn off when propped open, this recipe probably won't work for you. If you do happen to have a gas stove with the settings and tools recommended, and follow Mandy's instructions exactly, you'll have a delicious martabak! —Food52

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Crispy Bacon & Banana Martabak
  • For the cake batter:
  • 225 milliliters coconut milk
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups (180 grams) tapioca starch
  • 3 tablespoons (24 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons (50 grams) light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs, whole
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • For the "Elvis" toppings:
  • 3 strips cured bacon
  • 3 tablespoons (25 grams) salted, roasted peanuts, pre-frozen for 1 hour
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons (37 grams) dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons (42 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
  • 1 ripe banana
  1. Heat oven at 340°F/170°C on bottom heat (turning off the convection setting). Place an 8x8-inch square baking pan directly on the bottom of the oven, and let heat for 8 to 10 minutes.
  2. In a small pot, warm coconut milk over low heat to 115°F/45°C. Whisk in the instant yeast and set aside for 5 minutes. In a large bowl, add tapioca starch, flour, light brown sugar, salt, whole eggs, and egg yolks. Pour in the coconut milk and yeast mixture, and whisk until absolutely lump-free. Cover and let sit for 1 hour until very foamy on the surface.
  3. Meanwhile, make the bacon. Place the bacon on a plate in a single layer, sandwiched between two pieces of paper towels. Microwave on high for 4 to 5 minutes until crispy, set aside. In a spice grinder, grind the pre-frozen roasted peanuts (this prevents them from releasing oil and turning into peanut butter) and dark brown sugar until finely ground, set aside.
  4. Mix baking soda, baking powder and 1 ½ tablespoons water and add to the foamed batter, whisk to combine. Brush the surface of the heated brownie pan with a bit of the softened butter, then pour the batter in through a sieve. Skim off as much foam on the surface with a spoon as you can but no need to be perfect. Return the pan directly to the bottom of the oven. Bake for 20 minutes, constantly checking on the cake. If it’s browning faster on one edge than the other, rotate the pan. If the edges are turning golden brown before 20 minutes are up, turn down the heat a bit. In the end, the batter should be set, with holes throughout (if you can only see holes around the edges with the center of the cake bulging up with no visible holes, it’s fine too).
  5. Move the pan to an upper rack (turn the oven setting to top heat, or browning setting, if possible), and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes until the surface is lightly browned. Remove from the oven.
  6. Score the edges with a small knife and transfer the cake out of the pan and onto a cooling rack. If your cake has bulged up in the middle and you can’t see any holes, use a serrated knife to slice off the top surface to expose the holes underneath and make the cake more even. Spread the remaining softened butter over the top and let it melt into the holes while the cake is still hot. Sprinkle the peanut sugar evenly across the surface, then arrange the bacon on one half of the surface. Peel and roughly smash the banana and arrange it on the other half of the surface.
  7. Use a serrated knife and trim off the four edges of the cake. Cut it in half along the bacon and banana line, then invert and banana side over the bacon side to make a sandwich. Cut into 4 pieces and serve.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Nicole Davis
    Nicole Davis
  • Niconelko
  • Nancy Mck
    Nancy Mck
  • Marlo

7 Reviews

Niconelko December 4, 2023
Fantastic recipe! Great Textures, super exotic and also familiar at the same time. I don't have the appropriate oven for this, but I do have a Breville "control freak" induction top which allows me to exactly dial in the temperature. I used cast iron skillet and made the Temp 340F as suggested for the oven (covered so heat indirectly cooks top). Results PERFECT, short broil at the end to brown top. Wow!
Nancy M. June 30, 2023
I miss the time when this site was really about food and not an on-line kitchen store. I'm pretty sure anyone who wants to make this recipe has had ample time to view the video since it has been up for a very long time. I wonder what some of the other contributors are up to. Has Kristen moved on? Has Merrill given up cooking? I wish someone working at Food 52 would give some thought to its entertainment value.
Nicole D. July 7, 2023
Hi Nancy! Thank you for your feedback. We hear your disappointment that our focus has shifted to also include the products in our Shop, but we are still very much all about food, too. We’ve widened our array of contributors and residents, and Mandy Lee, who’s been a part of the Food52 community since 2013, is one of many you can turn to for recipes and meal inspiration. You can find all our residents here, and we publish new recipes and stories daily. If there are any specific stories you would like to see, please let us know. Feel free to reach out directly: [email protected].
Marlo May 20, 2023
This looks amazing! Can you recommend a GF sub for the flour?
Mandy @. May 20, 2023
I would imagine that any would do :)
BRUGSCA May 18, 2023
Hi Mandy, love you, I cant have bananas can u think of a good substitute? was thinking cooked sweet potato. What other fillings are traditional in HK?
Mandy @. May 19, 2023
Hi, without banana this recipe is delicious still! I would just omit it if you can’t have it.