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How to Make Vetkoek?

How to Make Vetkoek?

Koeksisters, a beloved South African delicacy, are sweet, sticky, and irresistibly delicious. This traditional pastry, deeply rooted in South Africa's culinary heritage, is known for its distinctive braided shape and spiced syrup coating. Derived from the Dutch word "koekje," meaning cookie, koeksisters are a testament to the country's diverse cultural influences. Below is a detailed recipe for making authentic South African Koeksisters.


For the Dough:

  • 500g all-purpose flour
  • 25g baking powder
  • 2.5g salt
  • 50g butter
  • 200ml milk
  • Vegetable oil for deep frying

For the Syrup:

  • 800g granulated sugar
  • 500ml water
  • 2.5ml cream of tartar
  • 5ml ground cinnamon
  • 2.5ml ground ginger
  • A pinch of ground cloves
  • Lemon slice or a few drops of lemon juice

Step-by-Step Guide:

1. In a large saucepan, combine sugar, water, cream of tartar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and lemon. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely in the refrigerator. The syrup must be cold when used.

2.  Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl. Rub the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles breadcrumbs. Gradually add milk to form a soft dough. Knead the dough lightly, then cover and let it rest for about 15 minutes.

3. Roll out the dough to about 5mm thickness. Cut it into strips approximately 3cm wide and 9cm long. Cut each strip into three sections, leaving one end intact. Braid the three sections and seal the ends.

4. Heat oil in a deep fryer or a large, deep pan to 180°C. Fry the koeksisters in batches until golden brown, about 2 minutes each side. Remove with a slotted spoon and immediately immerse in the cold syrup for a few seconds.

5.  Drain the koeksisters on a wire rack. Serve once cool, or store in an airtight container.

The key to perfect koeksisters lies in ensuring that the syrup is cold and the koeksisters are hot during the dipping process. This contrast creates the signature crisp exterior and juicy, syrupy interior. Enjoying a koeksister is not just about savouring its sweet, spicy taste; it's about experiencing a piece of South Africa's rich culinary history.

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