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Type Pastry
Course Dessert
Place of origin South Africa
Main ingredients Dough, sugar syrup
Cookbook: Koeksister  Media: Koeksister

A koeksister is a traditional South African confectionery made of fried dough infused in syrup or honey. The name derives from the Dutch word "koek", which generally means a wheat flour confectionery, also the origin of the American English word "cookie".[1] The frying of dough strips in this manner is of Malay/Indonesian origin, possibly with Indian influence, originally eaten as an unsweetened breakfast savoury brought to South Africa with Malaysian workers,[2] among whom they were known as koe'sisters, apparently suggesting polite gossiping among spinsters.[3]

There are two popular versions: an Afrikaner version which is crisp and syrupy in a twisted or plaited shape, and a Cape Malay version which is a spicy dumpling with a cake-like texture, finished off with a sprinkling of coconut.

Plaited koeksisters are prepared by frying plaited dough strips in oil, then submersing the hot fried dough into ice cold sugar syrup. Koeksisters have a golden crunchy crust and liquid syrup centre, very sticky and sweet and taste like honey.[4]

Cape Malay koeksisters are prepared from balls of dough including yeast and flavoured with cinnamon, aniseed, ginger, cardamom and dried tangerine skin powder, deep-frying in oil, allowing to cool, then cooking for a minute in boiling syrup and rolling in desiccated coconut.[5]

Koeksister Monument in Orania

A monument of a koeksister in the Afrikaner community of Orania recalls an Afrikaner folk tradition of baking them to raise funds for building of churches and schools.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bradford, Jean (1978). A Dictionary of South African English. Oxford. 
  2. ^ Green, Lawrence (1949). "Chapter 4 - Country Hospitality". In the Land Of Afternoon. Howard Timmins. 
  3. ^ a b Wybenga, Wim (2008-05-01). "Koeksister het sy eie monument op Orania". Volksblad. Archived from the original on 29 June 2016. Retrieved 8 November 2012. 
  4. ^ Laurens van der Post (1970) African Cooking, Time-Life Books, New York
  5. ^ Duckitt, Hildagonda J (1891). "KOESISTERS". Hilda's "where is it?" of recipes. London: Chapman and Hall.