Koeksisters. Every good South African grew up with these sweet braided beauties, and we were eager to give them a go in the kitchen this week. Jenn wasn't convinced about their name (it sounds a little bit like Cook Sisters!), and it's true - they do sound bizarre. 'Koek' is a Dutch word referring to a baked good, kind of like a cookie, and these treats have Malaysian/Indian roots. Think about a sweeter, denser gulab jamun with a light crust formed by dunking the koeksisters into sweet chilled syrup directly after they've been fried.
Don't let the braiding and deep frying put you off. This recipe is surprisingly easy and worth it if you're looking to impress friends with plaited pretties.
WHAT YOU'LL NEED
3 cups granulated sugar
2 cups water 1 ounce sherry 1 tsp vanilla extract
Zest of one orange
2 pieces fresh ginger, bruised
1 cinnamon stick
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup whole milk
5 tsp butter, softened
1 tbsp lemon juice
HOW IT'S DONE
In saucepan over medium high heat, combine sugar, water, sherry, vanilla extract, orange zest, ginger and cinnamon stick. Bring to boil, cook until sugar dissolves, mixture turns light golden and temperature reaches 200°F, about 3 minutes. Let cool slightly, refrigerate until cold, about 4 hours.
In large bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Using pastry cutter, cut butter into flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse sand. Stir in milk and lemon juice.
Form into soft dough, adding a little more milk if necessary. Cover with damp paper towel; let stand for 15 minutes. Roll out pieces of dough to 5mm thickness and cut into 4 –x 6- inch rectangles. Divide in half lengthwise to form two separate rectangles. Using sharp knife and leaving small border untouched cut rectangle lengthwise to form 3 equal strips. Braid tightly, pinching both ends to seal.
Remove orange syrup to bowl set over ice (to keep chilled); set aside. Using deep-fryer or deep heavy-bottomed pot, pour enough oil to come up no more than halfway up sides. Heat oil to 180°C. Deep-fry koeksisters, 2 or 3 at a time and turning once, until light golden on both sides, about 3 minutes. Shake off excess oil, submerge into chilled syrup for about 30 seconds; shake off excess syrup and remove to plate. Let cool completely.
Makes about 18 koeksisters