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IMG_7297In South Africa we have a sweet pastry known as a “koeksister” (literally translated as “cake sizzler”).  The name comes form the Dutch koek (cake) and sissen  (sizzle) – presumably a reference to the sizzling sound they make when being deep fried. You’d be hard-pressed to find a dessert more distinct to the nation’s Western Cape. There are two versions.The Afrikaner version is much more syrupy and crisp, while the Cape Malay version is an oval, fried dumpling with a texture more akin to a cake. Today, I am sharing the Afrikaaner version with you.

A monument of a koeksister in the Afrikaner enclave of Orania recalls a folk tradition of baking them to raise funds for building of churches and schools.

So what exactly is a koeksister you may ask? Well, the best analogy I can find is that they are similar to doughnuts but they are not really that either. With koeksisters, the dough is rolled out flat and then plaited in small lengths, deep-fried and then soaked in syrup and chilled overnight. All I can say is that they are highly addictive and absolutely delicious. It is hard to stop at just one.


For the syrup:

750 ml / 3 cups water
1,5 kg / 3 lb sugar
Grated rind and juice of ½ a lemon

Piece of fresh ginger, grated

for frying, sunflower oil
For the pastry:

4 x 250ml (500g) / 4 cups cake flour
25ml / 5 teaspoons baking powder
20ml  / 4 teaspoons butter
1/2 large beaten egg
245ml / 1 cup water