Tuesday 23 September 2014

Koeksisters {Recipe & Tutorial}

Koeksisters are a very popular South African treat. They are deep-fried doughnut-like pastries that are coated in a sweet, lightly spiced syrup. I haven't make them terribly often since I've been living in the UK, but every time I do they are polished of in no time at all. My friends love them!

The first thing you need to do is make the syrup. Now I can't stress this enough - you need to make it the day before you make the koeksisters, and let it get really cold in the fridge over night. I tried making it the same day once (put it in the freezer to try and speed up the cooling process), and lets just say, it wasn't good. If the syrup isn't really, really cold when you dip the koeksisters in, it crystalises and ruins the koeksisters completely.

OK, here we go!

Koeksister Recipe

Makes about 24


1 cup water
4 cups sugar
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger


Pour water into a large saucepan. Add sugar, pouring it into the centre of the water, then encouraging it to settle under the water. Add the cream of tartar, cinnamon and ginger. Do not stir. Bring the mixture slowly up to boil on a medium heat and simmer for about 10 minutes until it becomes syrupy. Remove from heat and leave to cool. Once cooled to around room temperature, cover and place in fridge to chill over night.


2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
90g butter or margarine
1 egg, beaten
90ml milk


Mix dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Rub butter into the dry ingredients until mixture resembles crumbs. Add egg and milk and mix in well until a dough forms.

Refrigerate dough for about an hour.

Roll dough out to a thickness of 1/4" (I usually make double the recipe and then roll out small pieces of the dough at a time.)

Cut the dough into 4" x 1" strips.

For each strip: Cut up the centre, leaving about 1/2" uncut. Twist each 'leg' made twice to the right. Now twist the two legs (preserving the twist in them) twice around each other to the left. Brush a tiny bit of water on the end of the left leg then stick the right leg to it, sealing them together.

Once all of the dough has been cut and twisted, rest them in the fridge while you get ready for the next step.

Bring a large pot of oil (or a deep fat fryer) up to about 180°C. Split the syrup, that you've had in the fridge over night, into two dishes, one for dipping in while the other stays cold in the fridge. You will swap these dishes between each batch of frying to ensure the syrup stays cold.

Set up your work space so that you have kitchen towel to drain the koeksisters after they have been fried, one of the dishes of cold syrup and a clean dish to put finished koeksisters into.
Mine looked like this:

Now begin frying the twisted dough by gently dropping them into the hot oil.

You can fry a few at a time, just make sure there is enough space in the pot for them all to float flat on the top of the oil.

Turn them over in the oil every few minutes until they are a rich golden brown colour.

Remove them from the oil and place them to drain very quickly on some kitchen roll.

Then get them into the cold syrup while they are still piping hot. Turn them a few times to get well coated and let them soak for a few minutes.

Remove them from the syrup.

Swap the syrup you have just used with the cold syrup in the fridge, then repeat the whole process until all the koeksisters are made. Koeksisters are best eaten cool/cold and should be consumed within a day or two of making them, or the syrup begins crystallising. They can also be frozen very successfully (in fact, I have a friend who thinks they are best eaten straight out of the freezer!)

Happy Baking!


  1. Best tutorial I've seen for koeksisters. It really helps to see eh

    where one can improve. Thanks Elaine

  2. Thank you so much Vaughan, I hope you have fun making your own koeksisters!!

  3. good recipes. Thank's for tips & sharing. I was not aware of this cooking method. I love the food at all difficult to handle temptation

  4. I just tried this yummy recipe from your blog and it has come out really yummy!! :)
    This is my first koeksisters and I am quite happy with the outcome...
    Thanks for sharing this easy recipe :)

  5. I just tried this yummy recipe from your blog and it has come out really yummy!! :)
    This is my first dish and I am quite happy with the outcome...
    Thanks for sharing this easy recipe :)