Koeksister : A Capetown Classic

Last week, we introduced you to the new Exec Sous Chef at Karma Kandara, Stefan Thietz. This week, we asked Stefan to share with us a quintessentially South African dish – which he’s duly done in the shape of a hard to resist sweet treat… 

“This is a very popular and uniquely South African dessert item. It’s uniquely South African because the base of the recipe is similar to European fried dough, highlighting the Dutch/Afrikaans influence, but the syrup is spiced with cinnamon and vanilla, highlighting the Cape Malay influence. There are also recipes with cardamom in the syrup. Most South Africans have a grandmother who would have made this at home, giving a certain nostalgic aspect to the item. I grew up eating this almost every other weekend when visiting my grandparents in the countryside”

South African fried donuts soaked in sugar syrup

For the syrup you will need:



  • Add the ingredients together in a saucepan and simmer for 10 minutes until all the sugar has dissolved and the flavour has intensified.
  • Let the syrup rest overnight in the fridge.

For the dough you will need:



  • Rub the butter into the flour using your fingers until the flour has taken on the resemblance of sand.
  • Add the salt and baking powder to the flour and mix well. Whisk together the eggs in a separate bowl.
  • Add the water and the milk to the eggs and mix. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and knead for 5 minutes until a dough forms. The dough should be sticky but firm.
  • Place the dough in a bowl, cover with a damp cloth or plastic and leave in the fridge overnight to rest.

The next day, lightly oil your work surface and roll out 1/4 of the dough until 1cm thick. Cut into strips
of about 1cm x 15cm. Place the koeksisters and reserve on an oiled baking tray. Cover with a damp

Fill a pot with vegetable oil for frying, the depth should be roughly 3 cm. Prepare a baking tray and drip tray. This is to allow the syrup to drip off the fried koeksisters after cooking.

Test oil temp by dropping a small bit of the dough into the oil. It should take 10 seconds to rise to the surface. You don’t want to cook too many at a time because it takes time to soak them after cooking. Start to fry the koeksisters, 5 pieces at a time. When golden brown, turn the koeksisters around. When the koeksisters are golden brown on both sides, plunge the hot koeksisters into the cold syrup. Press them down in the syrup for a few seconds each. Take the koeksisters out of the syrup and place on the cooling rack.


Download the Recipe as PDF

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