These rich, South African doughnuts are soaked in a spice-laden syrup, coated in desiccated coconut and then fried. Koeksisters should be served within hours of bathing in the syrup.






Skill level

Average: 3.7 (48 votes)


  • 310 ml (1¼ cups) warm milk
  • 60 g unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 450 g (3 cups) plain flour, sifted, plus extra, to dust
  • 2 x 7 g sachets dry yeast
  • 495 g (2¼ cups) caster sugar
  • 2 tsp ground aniseed (see Note)
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground mixed spice
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • desiccated coconut, to coat
  • vegetable oil, to deep-fry

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Resting time 1 hour

Whisk together milk, butter and egg until combined. Using an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix flour, yeast, ¼ cup sugar, spices, 1 tsp salt and milk mixture until a sticky dough forms. Transfer to a lightly greased bowl and set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 1 hour or until dough doubles in size.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, divide into 6, then roll out each piece into 4 cm x 30 cm strips. Cut each strip lengthwise down the centre, but do not cut through dough at one end. Plait strips and press ends together to seal. Cut dough into thirds and place on a lightly floured oven tray.

To make syrup, place remaining 2 cups sugar and 375 ml water in a pan over low heat and stir until sugar dissolves. Keep warm over low heat. Place coconut in a shallow bowl.

Fill a deep-fryer or saucepan one-third full with oil and heat over medium heat to 180°C (or until a cube of bread turns golden in 10 seconds). Working in batches of 3, drop dough into oil and fry, turning halfway, for 4 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Remove and drain on paper towel. Working in batches, place into warm syrup for 5 minutes. Remove and toss in coconut to serve.



• Ground aniseed is available from Middle Eastern and Indian food shops. 


Photography by Christopher Ireland.

As seen in Feast magazine, Jan 2012, Issue 5.