Pastries at Galapung Bakehouse are a little bit different. Founder-baker Sarah Djabir makes it obvious from the get-go, as seen from the sign at the entrance of her café which shares a parking lot with her grandfather’s pharmacy on Siaga Raya street in West Pejaten. The blackboard reads, “Welcome! Almost all of our ingredients are sourced locally. Pastries are GLUTEN FREE and made with cassava and rice flour.”
At this point, perhaps convinced by the quaint charm of the cafe or intrigued by Sarah’s sign, many find themselves dropping by on a whim to sample what Galapung has to offer. Inside, sunlight freely enters through the wall-to-wall windows on two sides, made gentle with air conditioning and soothing tunes. Sarah’s kitchen sits on the left through a pastel green door frame, sparkly clean for her customers to behold. And across the main entrance, the barista station and Galapung’s pastries capture the attention, with the latter looking immediately distinct from what most are accustomed to.
There is a bit more structure to these pastries, appearing almost like how mediaeval pies look: boasting a sturdy thin crust instead of a flaky or crumbly one. But these are, in fact, Sarah’s original recipes, which the Le Cordon Bleu Sydney alumna developed to accommodate the unique characteristics of the gluten-free local flours. Her biggest inspiration comes from the availability of local produce, which she then intuitively crafts into a seasonal menu that includes the aforementioned pastries, semifreddo and recently, cake too.
“What I noticed from my time in Australia is that most restaurants have seasonal menus, as they use local ingredients that are in season instead of relying on imported stuff. I believe that is something we should be doing too. With baking, just like cooking, the fresher the ingredients the better. The gluten-free aspect is just a bonus. Yes, good local ingredients are a little bit more expensive, but the quality and traceability justify the price,” shared Sarah enthusiastically.
In her recipes, Sarah also takes cues from her Arab-Indonesian background, drawing references from regions that run along the Silk Road; thus, whether sweet or otherwise, many of her menu items are generously spiced. This includes the flavoursome Mushroom & Greens Pie and the soothing Teh Wangi, which mixes up jasmine tea with ginger and cinnamon. But there are more toned-down options as well, and one can never go wrong with Galapung’s staple Sweet Scone, served alongside labneh (strained yoghurt) and homemade strawberry jam.
Sarah and her kitchen staff prepare these offerings with as few baking papers as possible, using banana leaves instead as an alternative to minimise waste. And when unavoidable, she either turns them into compost or sorts them to be sent to Armada Kemasan, a waste management company in Depok.
For all its quaint and gentle façade, Galapung Bakehouse brims with idealist visions for itself and the local pastry scene that it’s a part of. And with the tasty offerings it serves, it’s exciting to see how these ideals will be realised as the cafe continues to grow.