South African Koeksisters


This is a traditional South African recipe that I would like to say majority adults have grown up with. Its a dough that is plaited, fried and immediately dipped into a syrup.

This recipe was shared with me by a really good friend I worked with years ago. Rika was known for her koeksisters and small custard tarts or as we say, melkterte. This recipe makes 5 dozen koeksisters.



4 cups white sugar

3 cups water

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp cream of tartar

¼ tsp tartaric acid

3 peels of an orange


Boil all the ingredients together for at least 10 minutes. Leave to cool to room temperature. Do not put it in the fridge. I would recommend this syrup be made the night before and left to stand.



3 cups all purpose flour

3 heaped tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

3 heaped tsp butter

¼ cup water

¼ cup milk

3 eggs


Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt together. Rub the butter into the flour mixture.

Mix the water and milk together and heat to lukewarm. Gently beat the eggs and add to the milk mixture.

Add the milk mixture to the flour and knead well. Cover and let stand for at least ½ hour. It will rise slightly.

Remove and place on an oiled / floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll about a ¼’ thick. Cut into 10cm strips and plait. Squeeze the ends closed.

Place the dough into hot oil and fry till golden brown. Remove from the oil and IMMEDIATELY submerge the cooked dough into your prepared syrup. Push it down with a potato masher so that the dough absorbs the syrup. This will take a few seconds. Remove and place on a drip tray.

Debby Dash hint: Work carefully with the hot oil and before you place the cooked dough into the syrup let most of the oil drain from the dough. The time you take from oil to syrup must be quick. The trick is to get the dough into the syrup as hot as possible. It takes only a few seconds for the dough to absorb the liquid.

Enjoy and let me know…

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