Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Vegan Mofo 2018 Post 4: Koeksisters

Almost like doughnuts but with an extraordinary twist.
Sweet and sticky wins the race on this next Vegan Mofo venture.
In South Africa, Afrikaners have created the koeksister-- a plaited fried dough specialty coated in a lemon and ginger simple syrup. The word "koek" is Dutch for wheat flour confectionery and is the English root for "cookie." Sister, however, doesn't mean sibling, it's more directed towards the cooking technique and the sizzling sound effects when the dough hits the hot oil.

The Koeksister Monument in Orania, Northern Cape (an Afrikaner city in South Africa near the Orange River) pays homage to a folk tradition bake sale that raised monies for building new schools and churches. Image by Jens Friis.
So I deep fried for the first time and enjoyed the process of making koeksisters-- a long, tedious practice with the plaiting the best part. With koeksisters, a recipe from Imma, I improvised quite a bit: using a glass cup to roll out my dough and letting a wooden spoon test out the oil temperature (if bubbles form around the spoon it's ready). I also poured the excess oil into an airtight jar. It was too much oil to discard and hopefully can be used in the next frying recipe coming up.
All in all, the koeksisters are different. The corn flour gives it the crunch factor and the sweet simple syrup infused with lemon, ginger, and cinnamon coats nicely.

Koeksisters Ingredients and Preparation

1 cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 tablespoon ginger
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup water

1 cup corn flour
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup soy milk (or any dairy free alternative)
1 flax egg (1 tablespoon flaxmeal + 3 tablespoon water, let sit five minutes)
1 tablespoon vegan butter, melted
oil for deep frying

First make the simple syrup. Mix together sugar, cream of tartar, ginger, lemon juice, cinnamon stick, and water. Put this in the refrigerator for chilling.

In a medium bowl sift corn flour, flour, salt, and sugar together. Add soy milk, flax egg, and butter. Knead the dough with hands, working until everything is cohesive. Let dough rest for 30 minutes.

Roll out dough and cut into three sections. There should be 11-12 rolls divided by three. 

To make plaits, take three narrow strands, placing the left over the middle and the right over the middle, being sure to seal pinch as each plait is made. Fill a pan with oil and take the simple syrup out of the refrigerator.Once the temperature is ready, drop the koeksisters in a few at a time so as not to crowd the pot. 

As the koeksisters turn brown, take them out immediately and shock them in the cold syrup.
Eat warm and freeze any leftovers.


  1. Ah, what could be better than deep fried food?! These sound and look amazing. The lemon and ginger flavours must be delicious!

    1. Thank you! I really enjoyed them.
      Deep frying is challenging and almost terrifying,but the end results are worth it.

  2. These look amazing. Lemon and ginger are two of my favorite flavors. I'm really impressed with your kitchen skills!

    1. Thank you so much. If you love lemon and ginger, you would fall hard for these crunchy treats.

  3. Just wanted to say I think your theme is my favorite from Vegan Mofo! So many interesting recipes, and I am now totally going to follow Imma's blog since you've mentioned it many times. I love learning about international cuisine, and I feel like Africa gets totally ignored! I know nothing outside of some North African cuisine.

    1. Awww Jennifer, thank you. That means a lot. I didn't know much to start with and have had countless fails along the way. Still, this whole experience has been an eye opening education that has convinced me to explore beyond my childhood cuisine. Imma has an amazing blog that does have a nice range of vegan recipes and those that are easy to substitute.