South Africa


Serves 6

For the Pastry :
62.5ml margarine (1/4 cup)
62.5mll sugar (1/4/ cup)
250ml Self raising Flour (1 cup)
Pinch salt
25ml iced water (2 T)

For the Filling :
500ml milk (2 cups)
1 stick cinnamon
25ml butter (2 T)
50ml sugar (4T)
2 Eggs
50 ml Cake Flour (4T)

1. Cream the margarine and the sugar together.
2. Work in the flour and salt.
3. Add the water and work to a soft dough.
4. Wrap up and chill until required.

1. Scald the milk in a double boiler with the cinnamon stick.
2. Combine the sugar and flour and stir in the hot milk slowly.
3. Return to the heat and cook for 15 minutes with the lid of.
4. Remove from heat and stir in the butter.
5. When cool, add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
6. Line a 22cm tart plate with the pastry and pour the filling mixture in.
7. Bake at 200 deg C (400 deg F) for 20 minutes.
8. Before serving sprinkle the top with powdered cinnamon and castor sugar.


The sweet taste of these plaited dough cakes makes them a great favorite in South Africa. The secret of their success, is in preparing the syrup a day ahead and chilling it before dipping the koeksisters.

Serves 4

For the syrup:
1kg sugar
500ml (2 cups) water
2 pieces fresh green ginger (each 5cm), peeled and crushed
2ml (½ teaspoon) cream of tartar
Pinch of salt
Grated rind and juice of ½ lemon

For the dough:
500g flour
2ml (½ teaspoon) salt
30ml (2 tablespoons) baking powder
55g butter, grated
1 egg
250-375ml (1-1½ cups) milk or water

1. To make the syrup, put all the ingredients in a saucepan. Heat (stirring) until the sugar has completely dissolved. Cover the mixture and boil for 1 minute. Remove the saucepan lid and boil the syrup for a further 5 minutes, but do not stir it. Remove the syrup from the stove and allow it to cool for at least 2 hours in a refrigerator, or overnight.
2. To make the dough, sieve together the dry ingredients and rub in the grated butter with your fingertips, or cut it in with a pastry cutter. Beat the egg, add 250ml (1 cup) of the milk or water and mix lightly with the dry ingredients to a soft dough. Add more milk or water if the dough is too stiff. Knead well until small bubbles form under the surface of the dough. Cover with a damp cloth and allow to stand for 30 minutes –1 hour.
3. Roll out the dough to a thickness of 1 cm, then form koeksisters in either of the following ways: Cut strips 1 cm wide and twist 2 strips together, or plait 3 strips together, cutting the twisted, or plaited lengths at 8cm intervals and pinching the ends together. Alternatively, cut the dough into 8cm x 4cm pieces. Cut 2 vertical slits in each piece, reaching to 1cm from the end. Plait the 3 strips that have been formed and pinch together the loose ends.
4. Heat 7-8cm deep oil to 180-190°C – a cube of bread should turn golden-brown in a minute. Fry the koeksisters for 1-2 minutes, or until golden-brown, then turn them over with a fork and fry until golden-brown on the other side.
5. Remove the koeksisters with a lifter or slotted spoon, drain them for a moment on paper towel and then plunge them into the cold syrup for 1-2 minutes. Stand the container of syrup in a bowel of ice so that the syrup will stay cold. Remove the koeksisters from the syrup with a lifter or slotted spoon, allowing the excess syrup to flow back into the basin, then drain them slightly on a wire rack.

Custard Melkkos

or better known as Melkos is a traditional Afrikaans dessert. Serve it with custard.

Serves 10

1200g sago
2.5 liters milk
2 eggs
60 ml water
30 g custard powder
2 ml salt
15 ml butter/margarine
cinnamon sugar

1. Soak the sago in the milk for about an hour.
2. Gradually bring the mixture to the boil over moderate heat, using a heavy based saucepan
3. Stir it quite often in order to prevent burning and simmer until the sago is soft and transparent.
4. Separate the eggs. Beat together the egg yolks, water, custard powder and salt.
5. Add the custard mixture to the milk mixture and simmer until thick, stirring often.
6. Add the butter/margarine.
7. Beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry.
8. Stir a little of the stiffly beaten egg white into the hot melkos until mixed.
9. Then lightly fold the remaining egg white into the mixture, using a metal spoon.
10. Pour the custard melkkos into a heat proof serving dish, sprinkle lavishly with cinnamon sugar and serve immediately.

Classic Brandy Tart

Serves 10

For the dough:
250 g stoned dates , diced
1 cup boiling water
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
100 g butter , at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg , at room temperature
1 1/4 cups flour
1 pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 cups chopped pecans

For the sauce :
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup brandy

1. Sprinkle bicarbonate of soda over the dates. Pour the boiling water over the dates. Leave to cool.
2. Cream the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl. When the butter mixture is light and creamy, gradually beat in the egg.
3. Sift the dry ingredients. Alternately fold the dry ingredients and the date mixture into the creamed mixture, using a metal spoon.
4. Pour into a greased 25 cm pie dish or cake tin.
5. Bake at 180 C (350 F) for 45 minutes until dark brown and done.
6. Prepare the sauce and pour over the hot tart.
7. To Make Sauce:. Bring the sugar, water and butter to the boil. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla and brandy. Pour the warm sauce over the hot cake and leave to cool.
8. Cut the tart into equal portions.
9. Fill a large piping bag with 1 cup whipped fresh cream.
10. Pipe a large curl of cream on each serving. Add a sprinkling of chopped pecan nuts.

Crunchy oat and coconut biscuits

Makes about 32

250 g butter, softened
3/4 cup caster sugar
1/2  cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
1.5 cups desiccated coconut
2.5 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 Tbsp cocoa
200 g melted chocolate

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F.
2. Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter, sugar and oil until light and fluffy.  Add the vanilla essence, then the eggs one at a time, beating well after adding each one.  Mix until the mixture is pale yellow and fluffy.
3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and cocoa. Add the sifted dry ingredients and the coconut to the butter mixture and mix well with a wooden spoon until all dry ingredients have been incorporated.  
4. If NOT using a cookie press, form a ball of dough with your hands and roll it into a cylinder about 2.5cm in diameter. Wrap it in clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 mins (otherwise it will be too soft to work with). Remove from refrigerator and slice into rounds about 1cm thick.  Place the rounds on a baking sheet covered in baking paper, leaving about 2cm around each cookie.
5. If using a cookie press, fill the press with dough and fit a plain icing nozzle with a wide opening.  Pipe small ovals about 4cm long onto a baking sheet covered in baking paper.
6. Bake at 180C/350F for 15-20 minutes. Remove the cookies and cool completely on a wire rack.
7. Melt and temper the chocolate (see note above), then working quickly, spread the flat base of a cookie with a generous amount of chocolate, sandwich with another cookie, and place on a rack for the chocolate to harden.  Repeat until all cookies have been sandwiched.


 Makes 15

For the pastry:
300 g(2 cups) self-raising flour
50 g caster sugar
125 g butter – cold and cubed
3 extra large egg yolks
Ice water`

For the filling:
smooth apricot jam
a little flour
5 extra large egg whites
160 g caster sugar
160 g(2 cups) desiccated coconut

1. Place flour and sugar into a food processor and pulse until mixed. Add the butter cubes and pulse a few times to cut the butter into the flour mixture. Beat the egg yolks and add it to flour mixture. Pulse a few more times until the dough starts to form a ball. Add a little ice water if too stiff. Remove from the processor and throw out on a floured surface. Bring together with your hands and cover with cling film.  Refrigerate for at least an hour. When ready to make the hertzoggies, pre-heat the oven at 180°C.
2. Prepare a muffin or patty pan tray with non stick cooking spray.
3. On a floured surface, roll out the dough and cut circles with a cookie cutter to fit into the pan cavities.
4. Press the dough into prepared pans.
5. Put 1 teaspoon of smooth apricot jam in the flour and coat the “ball” of jam(this prevents the jam from boiling out the tarts) Now place the jam on the dough in the pans.
6. Beat egg whites until stiff. Add the caster sugar while beating. Fold in the coconut. Place a spoonful of meringue mixture on top of dough and apricot jam.
7. Bake for 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool and store in an airtight container. That is if there are any left to store!

Buttermilk Rusks

Serves 8

2 cups unbleached white flour
2 cups whole wheat flour (coarsely ground if possible)
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup melted butter
2 eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp pure almond extract

1.Preheat oven to 400º
2.In one large bowl, mix the dry ingredients together; in another bowl, mix the wet
3.Pour wet into dry and stir until a dough ball forms
4.Turn the dough onto a floured surface and roll it to 1/2 inch thickness
5.Cut the dough into 2×4″ rectangles
6.Bake on a parchment covered baking sheet for 25 minutes until the tops are crisping and browning a little
7.Keep them in a 200º oven all day to dry

Sweet Chilli Jam

Makes about 700 ml

12 large, ripe, red tomatoes
2 big red peppers (capsicums)
4 (or more, depending on how hot you'd like your sauce) fresh red chillies
1 thumb-size piece fresh ginger, coarsely grated
2 1/2 cups (625 ml) white sugar (or more, depending on the wateriness and acidity of the tomatoes)
4 T (60 ml) Balsamic or white wine vinegar
salt to taste

1. Roughly chop the tomatoes, peppers and chillies (skin, seeds and all) and place in a liquidiser, or a blender fitted with a metal blade, together with the grated ginger. Whizz on the highest setting for a minute until processed to a foamy, thinnish liquid: don't worry if there are pips, or bits and pieces of pith and peel bobbing around. Pour into a large, deep pan and tip in the sugar and the vinegar. Add salt, to taste. Place over a medium heat and bring to the boil, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon to dissolve the sugar. Now turn the heat right up and boil vigorously for 30-45 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent the mixture from catching. Use a large flat metal spoon to skim any foam or scum from the surface of the sauce.
2. In the meantime, rinse three small glass jars (or bottles, or Tupperware blikkies) in very hot water. If you're fastidious (which I am not) you can sterilize them first by microwaving the wet jars on high for three minutes, or by placing them, and their lids, in a clean saucepan of rapidly boiling water for five minutes. Drain upside down on a paper towel.
3. Taste the mixture - if it's too sweet, add a little more vinegar. When the mixture darkens a little, becomes syrupy and spits angrily when you stir it, it's nearly ready.
4. If you have a sugar thermometer, bring the mixture up to a few degrees below jam point. Or, much easier, take an ice cube from the freezer and drop a large blob of the mixture on to it. If the mixture, once it's cooled for 20 seconds, slides enthusiastically off the ice cube, you're not there yet - carry on boiling it for a little longer. If the sauce sets to a wobbly, trembling gel within 20 seconds of hitting the ice cube, it's ready.
5. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for five minutes.
6. Put a sheet of newspaper under the hot jars and use a ladle to fill each jar almost to the brim. Screw on the lids tightly. If the jars are sticky on the outside, give them a quick rinse under the hot tap before you put them away.