Koeksisters originate from the Dutch and Malay people that settled in Cape Town. They are plaits of deep-fried dough dipped in syrup that have a crispy exterior and soft sweet stick inside.
Lightly spiced dough is deep fried then immediately dunked into an ice-cold flavored sugar syrup for enough time to let the syrup permeate the dough.
There are many variations on the dough and syrup. The one outlined below is traditional and relatively easy to make.
2.5 lbs granulated sugar
3.5 cups water
3 tablespoons syrup
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 stick of dried cinnamon (broken into two pieces)
1 tsp ground ginger
2.5 cups cake flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 tablespoons salt
1/2 stick (or 3.5 tablespoons) of butter
1.75 cups milk
- Sift together the baking powder and salt
- Rub in the butter until it looks like biscuit crumbs
- Cut in the milk. Knead dough lightly, wrap in cling film and rest for 2 hours
- Roll the dough to approx. 1/4 inch. Keep the dough covered with a damp cloth or plastic wrap. Don’t make the rolls too thick as you will end up with outsides brown and inside uncooked
- Cut the dough into 3 inch x 1/4 inch strips and braid three strips together. Fold and pinch the top of the braid to bind the strips together and pinch ends together then cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and allow to rest for 15 minutes
- Deep fry (note, use hot oil but not too hot as they need to cook through) then drain the oil and plunge the dough into ice cold syrup. Note: In order to keep the syrup ice cold, work with the syrup sitting in an ice bath or have 2 bowls of syrup and keep one in the freezer so you can alternate as the syrup gets warm
- You can remove the koeksisters from the syrup after about 5 minutes to make space for newly fried koeksisters. Replace all the koeksisters in the syrup and leaving them overnight in the fridge to soak
Koeksister are best eaten cold and are usually at their best a few days after making them. They can be kept (wrapped securely in plastic or in an airtight container) in the fridge for up to 3 weeks and in the freezer for up to 6 months.