Step-by-step recipe to make the best koesisters



With mixed spice, ground cinnamon and ginger, the Cape Malay koesister is a glorious deep-fried doughnut-like delicacy, drenched in a sticky, sweet syrup and tossed in coconut.

In fact, the South African dessert is so closely associated with home for me, that I’ve never quite attempted making it, fearing I’d ruin the memories I have of my mom standing by the stove syruping the koesisters as we eagerly await the moment the plate hits the doilied table.

But having my mom in the kitchen with me, guiding me through one of her best recipes that she’s managed to simplify for any home cook over the years, has made the Cape Malay koesister so much more accessible.

Follow this step-by-step guide – I guarantee you won’t be able to wait until Sunday morning to try these koesisters!

A few tips before we start

  • Sift your dry ingredients for a lighter end product.
  • Mom says use butter – never margarine!
  • Allow your dough enough time to rise.
  • Oil your surface when shaping your koesisters.
  • Make sure your oil and syrup are at the right temperatures when your dough goes in.

Step 1

In a bowl – if you have a stand mixer, use the bowl of your stand mixer – sift 5 cups of flour, 2 cups of self-raising flour, 1 packet of instant yeast, 1 tsp salt, 3 tsp ground ginger, 2 tsp ground cinnamon and 1 tsp mixed spice.

In a separate bowl, whisk together 1 egg, 1/3 cup of sugar and 2 tbsp of canola oil until aerated.

In another bowl, combine 1 cup of warm milk and 1 1/2 cups of warm water (warm, being the key word; not boiling as it will react with your yeast).

Add your egg mixture as well as your milk and water mixture, to your dry ingredients, and mix together with a spatula until just combined.

Step 2

Add 60g of butter to your dough and knead for 5 to 10 minutes.

My mom says back in the day she’d do this by hand, but it’s so much easier to do so in a stand mixer now. It also makes for a much lighter end-product.

If you’re doing it by hand, add the butter to the dry flour mixture in step 1, working it in with your fingers like you’d do with scones, before adding your wet ingredients and kneading.

Step 3

Coat the top of your dough in extra canola oil, cover with clingfilm and allow to rest for 1 ½ hours. My mom wraps it in a tablecloth and leaves it in a sunny spot, so it pretty much doubles in size.

Step 4

Once your dough has risen, oil your countertop to work on. Form long, sausage-like pieces and cut them into portion sizes, placing them cut-side down on your surface.

Allow them to rise for a further 20 minutes.

Step 5

While your dough is rising, combine 2 ¼ cups of sugar with 1 cup of water in a saucepan and allow it to boil on the stove until you get a sticky syrup.

Step 6

Heat canola oil in a pot and once it reaches medium heat, drop your dough, tossing occasionally until brown on both sides.

Place it in a colander on roller towel to avoid an oily koesister, while you fry the rest.

Step 7

Make sure the heat is on for your syrup and glaze your fried koesisters, tossing occasionally.

Step 8

Sprinkle your koesisters with a generous amount of desiccated coconut and serve warm – with a cup of tea, of course.