One of the great things about being South African, is that we are surrounded by different cultures and their traditional food. If you are adventurous, you can discover treats and delicacies that will transport you to the most wonderful places.

One of my husband’s childhood favourites is the Cape Malay Koesister. His granny would bake these treats over the weekend and eating one, makes him think of her.Not to be confused with the dutch koeksister, koesisters are spicy, sticky doughnuts smothered in coconut.

Over the years, I’ve baked many koesisters, and each time I wait, anxiously while he eats the first one, fresh out of the syrup, to see if I’ve got it right. I think I have, so here’s the recipe. Let me know how you make koesisters.

The use of baking powder and yeast as a raising agent, creates the signature crumb, so don’t think I’ve lost my marbles with this recipe.

Make the dough before you go to bed, let it prove in the fridge overnight and then fry them up the following day for breakfast. You can also make the syrup the day before, just bring it back to a boil before adding the koesisters.


  • 750ml white flour
  • 15ml baking powder
  • 60ml castor sugar
  • 3ml salt
  • 10g instant yeast
  • 5ml finely ground cardamon
  • 5ml finely ground ginger
  • 5ml finely ground cinnamon
  • 5ml whole aniseed
  • 1 egg
  • 7ml oil
  • 15ml butter
  • 250ml milk
  • 125ml warm water (not boiling)
  • oil for deep frying
  • coconut to finish


  • 500ml castor sugar
  • 500ml water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 cardamon pods


  1. Mix flour, spices, sugar and salt. Add butter and rub in.
  2. Combine milk and water in a jug and add yeast. Mix well.
  3. Add oil and egg to milk and combine.
  4. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and combine to form a smooth dough.
  5. Gently knead on a floured surface to work the gluten.
  6. Cover in a mixing bowl and leave to rise for 45 to 1 hour.
  7. Remove risen dough form bowl and knead for another two minutes to redistribute the yeast in the dough.
  8. Cover hands with a little oil and roll dough into a long sausage about 4cm thick.
  9. Cut the dough into 3cm pieces and place onto a baking sheet to prove for about 30 minutes.
  10. Heat oil in a deep pot.
  11. Stretch each piece of dough into an oval shape before deep frying.
  12. Remove once golden brown on each side and drain on paper towel.


  1. In a large pot, combine all the ingredients. Bring to the boil, stiring to avoid the sugar burning.
  2. When the syrup becomes slightly thicker, boil batches of koesister for about 1 to 2 minutes and remove with a slotted spoon.
  3. Toss the sticky koesisters in coconut and serve within 2 hours.

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