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Koeksisters are basically a South African syrup-coated twisted doughnut (sounds good already!) They originally come from the Cape Malay people in South Africa where their koeksister recipe has a texture a little like cake, is spicy and is often coated in dried coconut. The Afrikaners have a slightly different koeksuster recipe that is more crispy and sweeter with more syrup on them.

The word Koeksister actually comes from the Dutch word for small cake – koekje. Nowdays they are usually eaten as a snack, often at a rugby match or possibly at a braai. Koeksisters are really easy to make and the recipe for the crispy, syrupy version of koeksisters is below.



  • For the Koeksister Batter:
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 2 cups flour
  • 6 tablespoons of milk
  • 6 tablespoons of butter (margarine can also work)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • The koeksister syrup:
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar
  • ½ teaspoon of tartaric acid
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence or
  • 1 teaspoon of grated orange rind or
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon or
  • 1/3 teaspoon of ground ginger


  1. To make Koeksisters, It is best to make the syrup first and and then leave it in the fridge overnight.
  2. Make the Koeksister Syrip
  3. Very easy, just add the dry ingredients to the water and bring the mixture to the boil. Allow it to simmer for about 10 minutes or until it starts to turn syrupy. Set it aside allow to cool and then place in the fridge overnight.
  4. Make the Koeksister Batter
  5. First sift the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl (flour, baking powder and salt). Then cut or rub the margarine or butter into them, similar to making pastry.
  6. Add the milk to the beaten egg and then add this to your flour mixture and again like pastry it is important to handle as little as possible. Then place this koeksister dough in the fridge for at least an hour.
  7. Roll the cold dough to a thickness of about ¼ of an inch and cut into strips that are approximately 3 and a half inches long and about 1 inch wide. Then cut each of your strips into three lengthways, leaving one side uncut at the end, and plait the pieces, pressing the cut ends firmly together at the end. (hope this bit makes sense, but basically just imagine you are plaiting hair and you will get the idea.)
  8. Fry Koeksister dough
  9. Heat the vegetable oil in a deep pan and remove half of the syrup from the fridge and deep-fry the koeksisters in the oil until they turn golden brown. Drain them on absorbent paper.
  10. Then dip the koeksisters into the cold syrup, for a few seconds it is important to do this whilst they are still hot to get the right texture as this will seal the syrup outside and leave the inside of the koeksister dry in contrast.
  11. As you follow this process with more koeksisters, the syrup will gradually become warmer, so when about half way through the koeksisters use the second batch of syrup that you have in the fridge.
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