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Koeksisters Recipe

Koeksisters Recipe – a Traditional South African Donut

2-1/4 water

4 cups sugar

pinch of salt

2-1/2tsp Cream of Tartar

1 tsp Ginger

1 Tbsp Lemon juice

1 Cinnamon stick

The day or night before, make the syrup. Heat the water until warm and then add the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for ten minutes, stirring to make sure that all the ingredients dissolve. After ten minutes, take the syrup off the heat and allow to cool to room temperature before placing the syrup in the fridge. Leave the cinnamon stick and ginger floating in the syrup.

3 cups all purpose flour for doughnuts, plus 2 tablespoons for dusting

2 tablespoons butter

1 packet of dry yeast (about 2¼ teaspoons: 7 grams)

2 tablespoons plus 3 tablespoons white sugar

1 cup milk

1 egg

½ teaspoon salt

corn oil for frying

½ teaspoon cinnamon powder


Make the coating

Fully melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Remove from the heat and add milk, sugar, and salt. Mix well until everything is well dissolved. Crack an egg into the saucepan and mix well. Add the yeast and stir. Let it sit for 5 minutes.


Transfer to a large bowl. Add 3 cups flour and mix well with a wooden spoon. When everything is well mixed, use your hand to knead the dough for a few minutes, and shape it into a big lump. Cover with plastic wrap.

Let the dough rise until it doubles in size, usually about 1 hour to 1½ hours

Deflate the gas with your hand and knead the dough for a few minutes until it’s soft and smooth. Cover with plastic wrap again and let it sit for 30 minutes to 1 hour until it doubles in size again.

Uncover the dough and knead it for a few minutes. Put 2 tablespoons of flour on the corner of your cutting board to use for dusting. Divide the dough into 16 equal pieces.divided

Take a piece of dough and roll it out, make 3 strings and braid it. Repeat with the rest of the pieces of dough.

Let the doughnuts expand for about 30 minutes. 15 minutes in, gently flip each doughnut over with your hands so the bottoms don’t get flat and all sides expand nice and round.

Heat up 4 inches of oil in a deep skillet over medium high heat, until the temperature reaches 350° F. 

Fry the Koeksisters until golden brown on both sides. Scoop them out of the hot oil with a slotted spoon and transfer them immediately into the syrup and let them sit there as long as you can. Keep frying the Koeksisters and once you’ve run out of room in the pan take out the ones that have soaked the longest and place them on a wire rack to cool.

The Koeksisters should literally be oozing with syrup, inside and out. Once all your donuts are made, place them into a dish and cover them with the remaining syrup. Let them sit in the syrup until it’s almost time to serve them then place them on the wire rack again to drain off.

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