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Special South African Koeksusters

Special South African Koeksusters

A South African classic of plaited, deep-fried dough, soaked in a vanilla sugar syrup.
By Candice Le Noury

Koeksusters are delicious. There’s no getting around it. Just as there’s no denying that they are not healthy. Not even remotely. But that doesn’t matter terribly much. A simple plaited dough, fried till crispy on the outside, and just cooked through. Then soaked in a vanilla sugar syrup, until the core is gooey with sugar, while the outside remains crunchy. This is a part of South African heritage I’m very proud of!

So whether you’re a South African who’s never made them before, or if you’re based somewhere in the big wide world where you’ve never even heard of them – there’s no excuse not to try these this week – they use a few cupboard staples, and the results are mouthwatering. This recipe was adapted by one of our local food heroes, Justin Bonello.
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Special South African Koeksusters

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4.5 from 2 reviews

  • Author: Candice Le Noury
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x


A South African classic of plaited, deep-fried dough, soaked in a vanilla sugar syrup.



For the dough:

  • 8.4 oz (240g) cake flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 4.2oz (125ml) milk
  • 2 cups vegetable oil for frying

For the syrup

  • 35oz) 1 kg sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence or extract


For the syrup

  1. Place all the syrup ingredients into a saucepan and bring to the boil, while stirring constantly.
  2. Reduce to a moderate simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, and place in a metal bowl if you have one.
  3. Place the bowl in a bigger container (or kitchen sink) filled with ice water – you want to get your syrup really cold. You can place it in the freezer too (in a Ziploc bag) when cool enough.
  4. Leave to chill while making your dough.

For the dough:

  1. In a bowl, sift the dry ingredients together and rub in the butter. Add the milk and mix into a soft dough; knead thoroughly, then leave to stand for about 15 minutes.
  2. If the dough is too crumbly, add a dash more milk, if it’s too wet, sprinkle with a little more flour.
  3. Roll out to a thickness of about 5mm and cut into strips 1.5cm wide and about 7cm long. Divide the 1.5cm into strips 5mm wide, but keeping them joined at the top.
  4. Create plaits with the three strips, making sure that you press the strips together firmly at both ends – this is very important because if you don’t, the koeksuster will fall apart in the oil. I know the plaits might seem very small now, but they expand when they fry and then absorb all the syrup. Don’t be tempted to make them bigger!
  5. Deep fry the koeksusters in hot oil until golden brown – don’t be afraid to get them a rich, deepish brown.
  6. Drain quickly and immediately dip into the ice-cold syrup. I left mine in the syrup for maximum saturation, and only removed them before I was going to serve. Yum.
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 5 mins
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