Jakarta is home to a multitude of snacks that are worth a try. Besides the popular Kerak Telor (spicy omelette), there is also Kue Ape (soft-centred crispy pancake). Not many may be familiar with its name, but once you catch a glimpse of its Serabi-like (rice flour pancake) shape, memories of you as a child stopping by to snap up some Kue Ape on your way home from school will surely surge through you.
Kue Ape is also known as Serabi Jakarta. While the Serabi we all know and love that is Serabi Solo is made from rice flour and coconut oil, Serabi Jakarta is a concoction consisting of bread flour, coconut milk, and artificial green colouring. The method for preparing it is strikingly similar to making a Serabi as they both use the same equipment. However, the dough of a Kue Ape does not form in the middle like a Serabi, but is spread out towards the ends of the pan. Once it is done, the crust becomes crunchy, while its centre will be soft in texture and savoury in taste.
According to some sources, the name “Kue Ape” was coined from how the Betawi people would ask about something. The story goes that one day, a Betawi man saw someone selling a soft- centred round-shaped cake with crispy crust. “Kue ape ini, bang?” (“What cake is this?”), he asked. Nonchalantly, the seller replied, “Ya, ini Kue Ape.” (“Yes, this is Kue Ape.”) Nobody knows whether this is fact or fiction.
Although it trails behind its “sibling” Kue Cubit (sweet “pinch” cake) in the popularity stakes, it is still quite easy to get your hands on Kue Ape. You can still find Kue Ape sellers at elementary schools, hawker centres, and traditional markets. Not only can you find the common green coloured ones, now you could also stumble upon sellers who have come up with a white- coloured variation of the Kue Ape. Its centre tends to be topped with chocolate sprinkles, which lends a sweet taste to the proceedings.
You could also make your own Kue Ape at home because of its rather simple recipe and quick cooking process. That way you could modify its taste to your preference, come up with a different colour, and add an assortment of toppings.
You can also read this article on The Jakarta Post: Getting to know the local crispy pancake ‘kue ape’