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Sour Milk Koeksisters

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Have you made Sour Milk Koeksisters before? I assisted with baking regular koeksisters back in South Africa for big events, then we made up to 144 dozen or sometimes more.  We worked in teams as it took us two days to start, preparing the dough, and syrup and setting up.  The second day we worked in sets of two to four people that manned a station. We had lots of fun and enjoyed it tremendously, but thinking of doing this again, I must admit that it’s extremely hard work but as we did it for charity or Church fundraising, it’s a labor of love.  

Sour Milk Koeksisters, a typical South African sticky sweet delicacy. 

Koeksisters also called Koesister

A koeksister (as per Wikipedia) also spelled koesister is a traditional Afrikaner confectionery made of fried dough infused in syrup or honey. There is also a Cape Malay version of the dish, which is a fried ball, or twisted in stead of braided as the traditional Koeksister, of dough that is rolled in desiccated coconut.
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bowl of koeksisters, and half of them covered with coconut

Sour Milk Koeksisters

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  • Author:
  • Total Time: 0 hours
  • Yield: 12 depending on size 1x
  • Category: Desserts
  • Cuisine: South African


The first World Koesister Day was celebrated on Sunday, 1 September 2019 at an event hosted at the Radisson RED Hotel V&A Waterfront, Cape Town.


Units Scale
  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 8 tablespoons melted butter
  • Enough sour milk/maas to make a soft dough
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 coconut



Start with boiling together the sugar and water until it thickens and keep it aside.

Koeksiter Dough

In a mixing bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients and then add butter and maas and mix to make it into a soft dough.

Now break the dough into small little balls and roll it into a thin roll.

Cut each roll into half and then twist it to form something similar to a braid, but with only the two strands.

Secure the ends and then deep fry in hot oil until golden brown.

Take out with a slotted spoon and immediately dip it into the warm syrup, and then roll it in the coconut.


  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 390
  • Sugar: 31
  • Sodium: 440
  • Fat: 16
  • Saturated Fat: 10
  • Unsaturated Fat: 5
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 59
  • Fiber: 2
  • Protein: 4
  • Cholesterol: 22
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Why are they called Koeksisters?

The name comes from the Dutch koek (cake) and sissen (sizzle) – presumable a reference to the sizzling sound they make when being deep-fried. With koeksisters, the dough is rolled out flat and then plaited in 6cm lengths, deep-fried, and then soaked in syrup and chilled overnight.

What does a Koeksister taste like?

Koeksisters are prepared by frying plaited dough strips in oil, then submersing the hot fried dough into the ice-cold sugar syrup. Koeksisters have a golden crunchy crust and liquid syrup center, are very sticky and sweet, and taste like honey.

Can Koeksisters be frozen?

A fresh koeksister, still slightly warm, and with dripping syrup is an unforgettable experience but if not used on the day of making it is best to freeze for later use and serve straight from the freezer.

What’s the difference between Koeksister and Koesister?

What’s the difference between a koesister and a koeksister? A koeksister is plaited, deep-fried, and immediately dipped into a cold sugar syrup, resulting in a crispy exterior. The Cape Malay koesister is flavored with cinnamon, cardamom, mixed spice, and aniseed.

You will find a large variety of wonderful Traditional South African dishes, meals, and treats on the blog.

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2 thoughts on “Sour Milk Koeksisters”

  1. I’ve never heard of koeksisters but I love trying new foods and recipes. They look and sound similar to yum yums so right up my street. Coating them in coconut sounds like the perfect finishing touch. Thanks for sharing Esme.

    • Hi Lucy, Thanks for dropping in. Yes, Koeksisters are a very popular South African sweet treat. I hope you will give it a try and let me know how it turned out, and for sure the coconut does give it something extra. There are many variations, so feel free to look on the blog for the other options. I again am not familiar with yum yums. Do you have it on your blog?


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