South African Koeksisters

Koeksisters South African Dessert Trea

Koeksisters, my sister πŸ‡ΏπŸ‡¦ This South African treat will always have a place in our hearts! There are two versions and I’m sure we all got a little confused in the beginning, so there’s the “Koeksister” which is the Afrikaner version and then there’s the Cape Malay version which is called a “Koesister”, it’s a fluffy ball of dough soaked in syrup and coated with desicated coconut. I will be shooting a Koesister recipe video and will update the blog as soon as it’s gone live.

Here are some notes to consider when making the koeksisters:
*You may use brown sugar or castor sugar if you wish.
*You may remove the aromatics from the syrup or leave them in to continue infusing.
*You can also add any other aromatics you’d like such as orange peel, vanilla bean (split), instead of the essence, star anise, cardamom etc.
*Cake flour has a slightly lower protein content but if you can’t source it then feel free to use all-purpose/plain flour instead. Do not use self-raising because it contains about 2 tsps baking powder per cup of flour and this recipe requires only 3 tsp for the 2 cups cake flour.
*When section the dough into rectangles: you can make the rectangles as long or as short as you’d like. Also, you don’t have to plait them, you could also twist the dough or get a little creative.
*I like dipping the koeksisters a second and even 3rd time so don’t discard the syrup after the first dip. This all depends on your personal preference.
*The koeksisters soften and become less sweet the longer they sit, which is great. So as good they are straight out of the first syrup dip, they’re even better the days following. Sugar settles and it’s even more addictive.

Koeksisters South African Dessert Treat Soaked Syrup

Check the recipe video below to see what the final product will be looking like!


  • Servings: 20 medium
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
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  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 tsp vanilla essence
  • 5cm piece fresh ginger, sliced
  • Juice from one whole lemon
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 50g cold butter, cubed
  • 1 large egg
  • Β½ cup milk
  • Oil for frying


  1. Start by making the syrup as it needs to cool. Add sugar, water, cinnamon, vanilla essence, ginger and lemon juice to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir continuously until the sugar has fully melted.
  2. Pour the hot syrup into a heatproof bowl and place it in the fridge on top of a kitchen cloth. The syrup will take about 4-6 hours to chill fully.
  3. Add the flour, baking powder, salt and butter together and incorporate using your fingertips.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together an egg and milk. Add this to the flour mixture.
  5. Mix lightly and tip onto a clean working service. Knead for 10mins adding a light dusting of additional flour if needed. Cover with clingwrap and allow the dough to chill in the fridge for 1 hour.
  6. Remove from the fridge and roll out the dough. Using a knife or pizza cutter, cut the dough into rectangles, cut each rectangle into 3 strips but still connected at the top. Plait and pinch tightly on each end to ensure they keep their shape while frying.
  7. Once you’ve created the koeksisters, bring your oil to a temperature of 180 degrees celsius. This’ll allow the koeksisters to become beautifully crispy. I like to drop a small piece of the dough in the oil to check the temperature – it should start bubbling and floating to the top within 5secs.
  8. While the koeksisters are frying (keep an eye out as they fry quite quickly). Place the syrup bowl onto of an ice bath to ensure it says cold whilst you’re adding in the hot koeksister.
  9. When ready, remove the koeksisters from the oil and immediately add them to the syrup. Ensuring they’re fully coated. Allow to soak up the syrup for 2-3mins.
  10. Place on a cooling rack to cool.

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