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Koeksisters (South African plaited doughnuts in syrup)

Sweet and syrupy, these South African doughnuts are carefully plaited and soaked in a zesty, aromatic syrup. Serve these deep-fried treats piping hot.

Allergens: Recipe may contain gluten, milk, egg, wheat and lactose.


11 Ingredients


  • 450g (3 cups) self-raising flour

  • 80g butter, chopped

  • 2 tbsp caster sugar

  • 1 tsp mixed spice

  • 1 egg

  • 125ml (1 ⁄2 cup) milk

  • Vegetable oil, to deep fry
  • syrup


  • 645g (3 cups) caster sugar

  • 1 cinnamon stick

  • 3 wide lemon rind strips

  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

4 Method Steps


  • Step 1

    To make the syrup, combine all the syrup ingredients with 500ml (2 cups) water in a saucepan. Stir over medium heat until the sugar
    (2 tbsp caster sugar)
    dissolves. Bring to a simmer and cook, without stirring, for 3-4 minutes or until aromatic. Pour into a large heatproof bowl and place in the fridge for 1 hour 30 minutes or until chilled.

  • Step 2

    Meanwhile, place the flour
    (450g (3 cups) self-raising flour)
    , butter
    (80g butter, chopped)
    , sugar
    (645g (3 cups) caster sugar)
    and mixed spice
    (1 tsp mixed spice)
    in a food processor. Process until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add egg
    (1 egg)
    , milk
    (125ml (1 ⁄2 cup) milk)
    , a pinch of table salt and 60ml (1 ⁄4 cup) water. Process until a soft dough comes together. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly until smooth. Shape into a disc. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 1 hour to chill.

  • Step 3

    Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface into a 25 x 40cm rectangle. Trim edges. Cut rectangle into quarters then cut each quarter lengthways into 4 thin rectangles (16 thin rectangles in total). Starting 0.5cm from the top short edge, cut 3 strips lengthways down each rectangle. Plait the strips and pinch ends together to seal.

  • Step 4

    Pour oil
    (Vegetable oil, to deep fry)
    into a large deep saucepan until half full. Place over medium-high heat and heat to 180°C on a cook’s thermometer (see tip). Deep-fry the doughnuts, 4 at a time, for 2-3 minutes each side or until golden brown and cooked through. Drain on a tray lined with paper towel and while hot, quickly plunge in the cold syrup. (Remove immediately or they’ll go soggy.) Drizzle over a little more syrup and serve hot.
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Recipe Notes

If you don’t have a cook’s thermometer, test the heat of the oil by dropping in a little of the dough – it should sizzle immediately if oil is ready.

Image by Nigel Lough

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