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Cape Malay Koe’sister

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What is a Sunday morning without some Cape Malay Koe’sister and coffee?

Especially since I’ve learned this new trick to quickly froth and raise the dough – wow you live and you learn.

koeksister /ˈkʊksɪstə/ is a traditional Afrikaner confectionery made of fried dough infused with syrup or honey. The name derives from the Dutch word “koek”, which generally means a wheat flour confectionery, also the origin of the American English word “cookie”, and “sister” can refer to the oral tradition of two sisters plaiting their doughnuts and then dunking them in syrup, so creating this iconic pastry. “Sis” can also refer to the sizzling sound it makes when the dough is dipped into the oil.

This should not be confused with the Cape Malay version called koe’sister which is a spicy dumpling with a cake-like texture, finished off with a sprinkling of coconut.



  • 4-6 cups cake flour (I start with 4 and gradually add more)
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp aniseed powder
  • 1 ½ tbsp aniseed seeds
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 2 packets of instant yeast
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup of warm water
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 2 potatoes boiled and mashed (reserve the water)
Cape Malay Koe’sister


  1. Boil the potatoes until soft.
  2. Mix the warm water, yeast, and 1 tbsp sugar in a bowl and stir until dissolved.
  3. I preheat the oven to 100 °C and stand the bowl covered on the open oven door to assist with frothing).
  4. Sift flour, remaining sugar, and spices.
  5. Using an immersion blender, blend potatoes, egg, butter, and milk (use reserved potato water to get a nice smooth consistency).
  6. Once the yeast has frothed, add it to flour together with the potato mixture and knead until combined.
  7. The dough must be sticky.
  8. Cover with cling wrap and a tea towel and again place on top of the warm oven with an ajar door until risen to double in size (or just leave in a warm place to naturally double in size).
  9. Remove the dough and punch down.
  10. Pinch off pieces, roll them into golf-sized balls with oiled hands, and place them on an oiled surface.
  11. Leave to rise again while you make your syrup.
  12. Once ready, heat the oil in a large pan or deep pot, over medium heat.
  13. Pull koeksisters into an oblong shape and fry, until golden brown, turning once.
  14. Place in a colander (or cullender) which is sitting on a paper towel.
  15. Dip the koeksister into the syrup (poking with a fork) whilst still warm and sprinkle coconut over and toss to coat.



  • 3 cups of sugar
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 cracked cardamom pods
  • A splash of rose water
  • A pinch of cream of tartar


  1. Mix all ingredients in a large pot
  2. Bring to a boil stirring until sugar has dissolved and the syrup coats the back of a spoon.

Prepared, tried, and tested Melanie Kramar

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