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How to make Koeksister doughnuts: family recipe

Both parents and children will love eating these South African syrup-coated plaited dough treats by chef Myles Lamberth, author of Surf Cafe Living

Posted: 30 July 2014
by Alex Lloyd

Koeksisters from Surf Cafe Living
These tasty dough plaits are best served with a dollop of special syrup. Photo: Mike Searle
Surf Cafe Living by Jane and Myles Lamberth
Surf Cafe Living features recipes, crafts and lifestyle ideas, inspired by living by the sea.

These are like super-sweet doughnuts, very popular back home. I grew up on these bad boys and the minute I land back in Cape Town I go to my favourite milk bar and tuck in. It’s a super energy rush after tackling some big winter swells too.



480g (4 cups) plain flour

5 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

125g (½ cup) butter

375ml (1½ cups) iced water


800g (4 cups) sugar

375ml (1½ cups) iced water

1 teaspoon golden syrup/honey

Pinch of cream of tartar

Juice of one lemon

To make the koeksister:

Sift the dry ingredients, rub in the butter and mix in the iced water to make a soft dough.

Roll out to a thickness of 1cm (half an inch). Cut the dough in strips and plait.

Deep fry until golden brown, remove and dip immediately in ice-cold syrup.

Tip: The oil must not be too hot, or the koeksisters will brown too quickly on the outside while remaining raw on the inside.

For the syrup:

Mix all the ingredients and slowly heat until the sugar has dissolved. Boil for two to three minutes. Leave to cool, and store the syrup in the fridge or freezer until it is needed.

Koeksisters can also be frozen if you can’t get through them all in one go.

Serve cold and remember to dollop with fresh syrup. 

Extract from Surf Cafe Living: Cooking, Entertaining and Living By The Sea by Jane and Myles Lamberth, £17.99, Orca Publishers. Available from

Jane and Myles run the award-winning Shells Cafe in County Sligo, Ireland, and are also authors of The Surf Cafe Cookbook


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