Traditional South African Koeksusters

This was one of the dishes I made for Yuppiechef's Enkosi Cookathon - 7 South African classics, cooked in 10 days. I admit I've never really explored our local cuisine much, so this was a great learning experience for me (having ever only made one of the 7 dishes before).

Koeksusters are delicious. There's no getting around it. Just as there's no denying that they are not healthy. Not even remotely. But that doesn't matter terribly much. A simple plaited dough, fried till crispy on the outside, and just cooked through. Then soaked in a vanilla sugar syrup, until the core is gooey with sugar, while the outside remains crunchy. This is a part of South African heritage I'm very proud of!

So whether you're a South African who's never made them before, or if you're based somewhere in the big wide world where you've never even heard of them - there's no excuse not to try these this week.


From Justin Bonello and Yuppiechef

For the dough:
240g cake flour
4 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp butter
125ml milk or buttermilk

For the syrup:
1kg sugar
2 cups of water
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla essence

about 500ml oil for frying

In a bowl, sift the dry ingredients together and rub in the butter. Add the milk (or buttermilk) and mix into a soft dough; knead thoroughly, then leave to stand for about 15 minutes. If the dough is too crumbly, add a dash more milk, if it's too wet, sprinkle with a little more flour.
the syrup ingredients into a saucepan and bring to the boil, while stirring. Reduce to a moderate simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, and place in a metal bowl if you have one. Place the bowl in a bigger container (or kitchen sink) filled with ice water - you want to get your syrup really cold. You can place it in the freezer too (in a Ziploc bag).

Now for your dough -  roll out to a thickness of about 5mm and cut into strips 1.5cm wide and about 7cm long. Divide the 1.5cm into strips 5mm wide, but keeping them joined at the top. Create plaits with the three strips, making sure that you press the strips together firmly at both ends – this is very important because if you don’t, the koeksuster will fall apart in the oil. I know the plaits might seem very small now, but they expand when they fry and then absorb all the syrup. Don't be tempted to make them bigger!
Deep fry the koeksusters in hot oil until golden brown – don't be afraid to get them a rich, deepish brown. Drain quickly and immediately dip into the ice-cold syrup. I left mine in the syrup for maximum saturation, and only removed them before I was going to serve. Yum.



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