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Easy & Delicious Cape Malay Koeksisters Recipe

cape malay koeksisters recipe
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Mouth-Watering Cape Malay Koeksisters

Not Your Average Doughnut!

When you visit South Africa, you will find traditional Koeksisters at almost any bakery or grocery store. Cape Malay Koeksisters, however, are mostly home-made! Not necessarily because they are less good than traditional koeksisters. Rather, traditional koeksisters have gotten all the press. They’re unique, super cute, absolutely delicious, and therefore people talk about them.

While the neglected Cape Malay Koeksister is equally as good, it’s not necessarily unique. It’s fried dough dipped in syrup, which is very similar to a commonly known doughnut!

But oh contraire! The “Koesisters”  is no regular donut.

  • The spices in the Cape Malay “Koesister” is like no donut you will ever taste. The blend of spices creates an experience in your mouth that you just won’t get from a regular donut;
  • The syrup is no regular syrup. The added ginger, in my opinion, is the magic in the entire “koesister.” If you don’t have the ginger, you’ll end up with a “regular” syrup. Yes, the cinnamon and cardamom pods are good, but it is the fresh ginger that makes this syrup amazing.

Cape Malay Koeksisters - An Easy Recipe

Prep Time: 25 mins | Rise Time: 2.5 hours | Cook Time: 25 mins


  • 4 cups Cake flour* (see below how to make your own.)
  • 2 cups Self-rising flour* (see below how to make your own.)
  • ⅓ cup Sugar
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • 1 packet Instant yeast
  • 2 tsp Cardamom
  • 2 tsp Fine ginger
  • 2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 2 tsp Aniseed
  • 1 Egg (large)
  • 3 tsp Oil
  • 2 Tbsps. Butter
  • 1½ cup Hot water
  • 1½ cup Milk
  • Oil for deep frying
  • Desiccated coconut for sprinkling


  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1 cup Water
  • 1 Cinnamon stick
  • 2 Cardamon pods
  • ¼ inch Fresh ginger
How to Prepare Your Koeksisters
  1. Mix the flours, spices, yeast, salt and sugar.
  2. Melt the butter in the hot water. Once completely melted, add the milk and oil to bring down the temperature. Add egg to the cooled-down liquid and mix.
  3. Add liquid to dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly to form a soft, smooth dough. Do not overmix.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap (or a clean towel) and leave to rise for about 1- 2 hours in a warm place.
  5. Once risen, moisten your hands with oil and roll dough into a sausage shape. Cut into approximately 3/4 inch slices.
  6. Set aside and allow them to rise again – 30 minutes or longer.
  7. Lightly stretch the slices to form an oval shape.
  8. Once your dough is ready, warm the oil. (See below for tips on how to check when your oil is ready for frying.) One by one, add the dough to the oil – be careful not to overcrowd the pan.
  9. Fry until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel.


  1. Place all the syrup ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a slow boil, stirring to ensure the sugar dissolves completely.
  2. Stir until the syrup becomes slightly sticky.
  3. Add the fried koeksisters to the syrup for a few seconds, then remove with a slotted spoon. (The longer you allow the fried koeksisters to sit in the syrup, the more the syrup will sink in.)
  4. Sprinkle both sides liberally with coconut.

I personally like warm Cape Malay Koeksisters, but they are traditionally eaten cold or room temperature. In fact, Cape Malay Koeksisters are not allowed to reach room temperature in our house – they’re usually eaten before it can get there.

To get your perfect Cape Malay Koeksisters, here are a few helpful tips:

Helpful Koeksister Tips
  • How long should the koeksisters be dipped into the syrup? It depends on your personal preference. In our house, we like to keep it traditional, which means it goes in just to cover the fried dough, then out.
  • Do I need desiccated coconut? No. Actually, any shredded coconut will do.
  • I can’t find Cake Flour or Self Rising flour. These are widely sold in South Africa, but not so much in the USA. That being the case, you’ll need to make your own cake flour and self-rising flour substitute. Fortunately, it’s very easy to make.

Make Your Own Cake Flour

For 1 cup of Cake Flour, you will need:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour minus 2 tablespoons
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch

Measure 1 cup of all-purpose flour into a bowl. Using a measuring tablespoon, remove 2 tablespoons of the all-purpose flour. Replace it with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. Whisk all of the ingredients together thoroughly.

Make Your Own Self-Rising Flour

For 1 cup of Self Rising Flour, you will need:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt

Whisk all of the ingredients together well.

Testing Oil Temperature For Frying

Here’s a super-easy guide to checking when your oil is perfect for frying your Cape Malay Koeksisters, (or regular Koeksisters.)


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About The Author

Hi. We’re the Chelten’s. We visit South Africa 1-2 times per year, so we want to share our experiences with you so that you may make educated decisions when you plan your next trip to the rainbow nation.

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