Jakarta bakeries trapped in time

Toko Kue Marga is famous for their picnic rolls, available with beef or ham. — Jakarta Globe pic
Toko Kue Marga is famous for their picnic rolls, available with beef or ham. — Jakarta Globe pic

JAKARTA, July 14 — Although Indonesia’s capital seems to have a penchant for newfangled hybrid food, it will always leave a room for its classic staples, some heavily influenced by Dutch cuisine, especially pastries and cakes like the donut-sans-hole oliebollen and tender, juicy picnic rolls.

Some of the bakeries that produce these old timey baked goods prefer to remain obscure, their existence passed through by word-of-mouth only among Jakarta’s true foodies. The French might have come up with the concept of a secret bonne adresse, but Jakartans would like to think they’ve perfected it.

But don’t worry if you don’t know where to go and have no one old money enough to ask where these places are, we’ve done all the leg work for you. Step back into tempo doeloe, and grab a bite of a pannenkoek!

Toko Kue Marga’s classic Dutch oliebol (‘oil ball’). — Jakarta Globe
Toko Kue Marga’s classic Dutch oliebol (‘oil ball’). — Jakarta Globe

Toko Kue Marga (Marga’s Cake Shop)

Located in a quaint corner of leafy Menteng, one of the most expensive areas in Central Jakarta, you can hear the familiar Paddle Pop tune ringing as you walk through a long driveway to find the entrance.

Toko Kue Marga has been around since the early 1970s, and remains unique for its extensive range of baked Dutch-Indonesian goodies that aren’t available anywhere else — or at least no one else makes them as good.

One of them is a traditional Dutch treat called oliebol, that literally translates into “oil ball.”

Marga’s oliebol is airy and chewy, almost like a giant donut without the hole in the middle, with a dusting of icing sugar on top.

If you keep nibbling, you will find a fragrant mix of crunchy apples and raisins cooked in cinnamon and sugar inside. It’s like finding a treasure inside a ship already filled with gold.

Pro tip: Get some to take away and refry the oliebollen at home, in butter preferably, until the outside is crispy and browned. Double the olie, double the goodness!

Toko Kue Marga’s majestic beef picnic roll. — Jakarta Globe
Toko Kue Marga’s majestic beef picnic roll. — Jakarta Globe

The best part of eating your favourite food is sharing it with people you care about. Marga’s golden-brown crispy picnic roll is enough for at least five people, and it comes with either ham or beef stuffing.

The buttery inner dough is impressively stuffed with meatloaf, half a boiled egg and a cheese-mayonnaise spread — a visual that resembles a successful Tetris game.

This bakery carries many childhood memories for both Maria and her husband, who grew up around the area.

They both knew the original owner Marga, who passed away in 1997.

“From back then until now, it hasn’t changed a bit. Still only accepts cash too!” Maria laughs while recommending her favourite dessert, pannenkoek, a cross between a pancake and a crepe. The thick cream in the stuffed crepe is similar to what you can find in a klappertaart (a Dutch-Manado coconut soft cake).

Address: Jalan Cimahi No. 8, RT5/RW4, Menteng, Central Jakarta

Opening hours: 9am-5pm

Contact: (021) 31928034

Martha Cake Shop’s signature mocca (mocha) nougat cake. — Jakarta Globe
Martha Cake Shop’s signature mocca (mocha) nougat cake. — Jakarta Globe

Martha Cake Shop

Ever since Oma Martha (Grandma Martha), now 72 years old, opened the cake shop in 1976, the business has been family run.

An extension of Oma’s house, the entrance of the bakery is a small side-door that expands into a whimsical garden trail, complete with a mini fountain. Unless you’re in the know, it will be a bit difficult to find.

The cake shop is adorned with black, white and gold aesthetics, an extensive renovation three years go making it feel a little like a high-end bakery in the upper west side of Los Angeles.

Once you try their Mocca Nougat cake, it becomes clear why this is their bestseller. The mocca cake is soft and not too sweet, the vanilla flan (custard) in between the cake pieces is cold, soft and thick and the outer layer of caramelised nuts (nougat) have a bit of a chew to it to contrast with the soft inside.

Martha Cake Shop’s other signature, dark chocolate cake. — Jakarta Globe
Martha Cake Shop’s other signature, dark chocolate cake. — Jakarta Globe

Their other bestseller, the dark chocolate cake, is equally as fluffy and light as its mocha counterpart. A velvet layer of pure dark chocolate surrounds the cake, not to be mistaken for cream. This concoction has a bit of a jiggle to it, almost like a thick pudding. Decorated with asymmetrical whipping cream circles, it is topped off with bright red maraschino cherries.

Because the cakes do not contain any preservatives, it is recommended that they are consumed within a week. But believe us, they won’t last that long.

Despite not having a sit-down area, Martha’s Cake Shop never had a problem selling out. In the one hour The Jakarta Globe was there, the phone was ringing off the hook as customers after customers call to place an order in advance, in fear of their favourites getting sold out.

Address: Jalan Jambu No. 33, Menteng, Central Jakarta

Opening hours: 9am-5pm

Contact: (021) 3143567

Sprightly 70-year-old Annaning Widodo opened her Benhil cakery in 1977. — Jakarta Globe
Sprightly 70-year-old Annaning Widodo opened her Benhil cakery in 1977. — Jakarta Globe

Maison Annalita

Annaning Widodo, the owner of Maison Annalita in Benhil, Central Jakarta, is a spry 70-year-old who has been managing the cake shop since she opened it in 1977. When she first started, she was her own employee.

“I had to wake up at 2am and made sure by 5am everything was baked and out of the oven. I had to continue baking in the evening because people would buy everything by 5pm,” Anna reminisced.

Maison means “house” in French, a name that was given by her older sibling who was studying in France at that time.

Known for their ice cream tarts, Anna tells us a fun fact of how the original Dutch spelling of the word “tart” actually included two ‘As,’ but no one says it like that anymore.

Maison Annalita is known for their ice cream tarts. — Jakarta Globe
Maison Annalita is known for their ice cream tarts. — Jakarta Globe

Some of Anna’s staff call her circular-shaped frozen dessert a donut, but it is made purely of hard ice cream. Made of a secret mixture of imported flavour essences and fresh ingredients, the familiar tastes have stuck with her longtime customers.

“I started this shop when my children were still toddlers. Their toddler friends have eaten my cakes since they were young until they got married and started having children and grandchildren of their own — and they still order from my store,” Anna proudly said.

Maison Annalita now offers more modern ice cream flavours such as blueberry or cappuccino, but their classic flavours (vanilla, strawberry, chocolate) are still the most sought out.

Throughout the years, Anna has never stopped innovating. Her shop not only sells ice cream but also bread, snacks, rice packets, pudding, cakes and cookies.

Address: Jl. Bendungan Hilir Gg. V No. 15, RT12/RW1, Bendungan Hilir, Central Jakarta

Opening hours: 6am-6pm

Contact: (021) 5732655 — Jakarta Globe

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