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Festive Gingerbread Milk Tarts

Festive Gingerbread Milk Tarts

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A classic South African milk tart gets a festive twist with a gingerbread pastry and a spiced orange custard filling! 

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Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE a good mince pie, a slice of fruit cake with a THICK layer of marzipan, gingerbread biscuits and don’t even start with my weakness – trifle. But it’s a little sad that here in South Africa our Christmas tables are laden with recipes originating from America and the UK when we have such delicious traditional recipes of our own! This year, I’m ditching the mince pies for our very own South African version: the festive milk tart!

The pastry for these festive gingerbread milk tarts has a sprinkling of spices and the Natura Sugars Molasses sugar (Click to shop it on my online shop) gives it a rich molasses flavour and just a hint of sweetness. The custard filling is infused with orange zest and bay leaves – and of course, it’s not a milk tart without the cinnamon topping! I cut out festive shapes from acetate sheets and used them to create an effortless decoration! 

Check out the video I made below of these Festive Gingerbread Milk Tarts and how to make them step by step. Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel (it’s free) here: https://youtube.com/thekatetin

FESTIVE GINGERBREAD MILK TARTS

GINGERBREAD PASTRY
250g cake flour
5ml cinnamon
2.5ml ground ginger
2.5ml freshly grated nutmeg
60g Natura Sugars Molasses Sugar (CLICK to shop) 
120g salted butter, coarsely chopped
3 large egg yolks

MILK TART FILLING
950ml milk
Zest of 1 orange
1 cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
3 large eggs
225g Natura Sugars Caster Sugar (CLICK to shop) 
50g cake flour
50g cornflour
20g butter
10ml ground cinnamon

For the pastry, process the flour, spices and Molasses sugar in a food processor to combine, then add butter and process until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the yolks, process until just combined. Tip out onto a work surface and bring the pastry together to form a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured work surface to 5mm thick and line 8, x10 cm loose-bottomed straight-edged tart tins.
Trim the edges with a sharp knife and refrigerate to rest (1 hour).
Blind-bake the tarts by placing a piece of baking paper in the lined tart tins and fill with dry beans, rice or baking beads.
Bake for 8-10 minutes until light brown and crisp, then remove baking paper and weights and bake for a further 5 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
To make the milk tart filling, in a saucepan over a medium heat, bring the milk, zest, cinnamon and bay leaves to just before boiling point, remove from the heat and allow to infuse for 30 minutes.
In a mixing bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, flour and cornflour until well mixed. Strain the hot milk gradually into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the stove and whisk constantly until it thickens, then add the butter and mix. Leave to cool before pouring the mixture into the cooked tart shells. Allow to cool before sprinkling liberally with the cinnamon.

OR get the printable recipe card below: 

Festive Gingerbread Milk Tarts
Yields 8
Print
Prep Time
1 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
2 hr
Prep Time
1 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
2 hr
0 calories
0 g
0 g
0 g
0 g
0 g
0 g
0 g
0 g
0 g
0 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
0g
Yields
8
Amount Per Serving
Calories 0
Calories from Fat 0
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 0g
0%
Saturated Fat 0g
0%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 0mg
0%
Total Carbohydrates 0g
0%
Dietary Fiber 0g
0%
Sugars 0g
Protein 0g
Vitamin A
0%
Vitamin C
0%
Calcium
0%
Iron
0%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. GINGERBREAD PASTRY
  2. 250g cake flour
  3. 5ml cinnamon
  4. 2.5ml ground ginger
  5. 2.5ml freshly grated nutmeg
  6. 60g Natura Sugars Molasses Sugar
  7. 120g salted butter, coarsely chopped
  8. 3 large egg yolks
  9. MILK TART FILLING
  10. 950ml milk
  11. Zest of 1 orange
  12. 1 cinnamon stick
  13. 2 bay leaves
  14. 3 large eggs
  15. 225g Natura Sugars Caster Sugar
  16. 50g cake flour
  17. 50g cornflour
  18. 20g butter
  19. 10ml ground cinnamon
Instructions
  1. For the pastry, process the flour, spices and Molasses sugar in a food processor to combine, then add butter and process until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the yolks, process until just combined. Tip out onto a work surface and bring the pastry together to form a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured work surface to 5mm thick and line 8, x10 cm loose-bottomed straight-edged tart tins.
  3. Trim the edges with a sharp knife and refrigerate to rest (1 hour).
  4. Blind-bake the tarts by placing a piece of baking paper in the lined tart tins and fill with dry beans, rice or baking beads.
  5. Bake for 8-10 minutes until light brown and crisp, then remove baking paper and weights and bake for a further 5 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
  6. To make the milk tart filling, in a saucepan over a medium heat, bring the milk, zest, cinnamon and bay leaves to just before boiling point, remove from the heat and allow to infuse for 30 minutes.
  7. In a mixing bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, flour and cornflour until well mixed. Strain the hot milk gradually into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the stove and whisk constantly until it thickens, then add the butter and mix. Leave to cool before pouring the mixture into the cooked tart shells. Allow to cool before sprinkling liberally with the cinnamon.
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calories
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fat
0g
protein
0g
carbs
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The Kate Tin https://thekatetin.com/
Naartjie Koesisters for World Koesister Day

Naartjie Koesisters for World Koesister Day

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This Sunday is the very first World Koesister Day and if you’re as excited about this as I am then you’re definitely going to want to whip up a batch of my naartjie koesisters, a twist on Cariema Isaacs’ traditional Cape Malay recipe! 

Now, I’m ashamed to say that while I’ve eaten my body weight in koesisters, I’ve never actually made a batch myself. When I’ve found myself even remotely near the Bokaap on a Sunday, best believe I’m stopping by Rose’s Cafe for the still-warm coconut-coated spiced piece of heaven which is a koesister. And you can never just have one! If, like me, you’ve never made your own koesisters, then this Sunday, the very first World Koesister Day, is about as good a day as any to give them a go! 

What is a koesister? 

Nope, there’s no spelling error. We’re celebrating the Cape Malay KOEsister, which is very different from the koeksister (with two k’s) of Dutch origin. Having almost the same name is where the similarities between these two traditional South African bakes ends. While a koeksister is crunchy and drenched in thick syrup, the koesister is more like a doughnut – spiced, soaked in syrup and rolled in coconut. As Vannie Kaap so eloquently put it, ‘Koesisters are vetkoeke that believed in miracles’. (Side note: they have this on aprons – NEED!)

1 September is World Koesister Day 

I was fortunate enough to be invited to a koek-off between Radisson Red Chef, Naseer and renowned Cape Malay cookbook author Cariema Isaacs where they competed for the best koesister kudos (and we got to taste!) when they announced the inaugural World Koesister Day. If you think you’ve got the best koesisters in the land, then make sure to head to the Radisson Red Hotel this Sunday (with your plate of koesisters) and enter to win the title of the Kwaiest KOEsister!  

How to make a Cape Malay Koesister

I have huge respect for the tradition of so many Cape Malay women who woke up at goodness knows what hour on a Sunday morning to have a plate of warm koesisters ready for their family. And as I’m no expert in Cape Malay baking, I relied on the recipe and instructions of arguably the most famous Cape Malay cook, Cariema Isaacs. I used her koesister recipe (which was taught to her by her mom-in-law) straight from her book ‘My Cape Malay Kitchen‘. I added my own twist of naartjie zest (in the dough) and naartjie zest (in the syrup) and doubled up on the spices as I love my koesisters extra spicy!  

Will you be making koesisters for World Koesister Day this weekend? 

Naartjie Koesisters
Serves 24
A spiced Cape Malay doughnut soaked in syrup and covered with coconut.
Print
Prep Time
2 hr
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
2 hr 20 min
Prep Time
2 hr
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
2 hr 20 min
0 calories
0 g
0 g
0 g
0 g
0 g
0 g
0 g
0 g
0 g
0 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
0g
Servings
24
Amount Per Serving
Calories 0
Calories from Fat 0
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 0g
0%
Saturated Fat 0g
0%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 0mg
0%
Total Carbohydrates 0g
0%
Dietary Fiber 0g
0%
Sugars 0g
Protein 0g
Vitamin A
0%
Vitamin C
0%
Calcium
0%
Iron
0%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 1/4 cup (60ml) caster sugar
  2. 3 cups (750ml) cake flour
  3. 1/2 tsp (2.5ml) baking powder
  4. 1/4 tsp salt
  5. 5g (1/2 packet) instant yeast
  6. 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  7. 2 tsp ground ginger
  8. 1 tsp ground cardamom
  9. 4 tsp whole aniseed seeds
  10. zest of 2 naartjies
  11. 30g melted butter or margarine
  12. 1 large egg
  13. 375ml warm milk
  14. 1/2 cup (125ml) self-raising flour, for dusting
  15. Vegetable, sunflower or canola oil, for frying
  16. SYRUP
  17. 250ml white sugar
  18. 250ml naartjie juice
  19. 1 star anise
  20. 1 cinnamon stick
  21. 1 cup desiccated coconut, for sprinkling
Instructions
  1. Combine the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
  2. Add the melted butter, eggs and just enough milk to form a sticky dough.
  3. Transfer the dough to a clean, well-oiled bowl, cover with clingwrap and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size.
  4. One the dough has risen, dust your work surface with self-raising flour and form the dough into a long log shape about 5cm wide. Use a knife to divide the log into 24 pieces - each piece of dough should the size of a small lime. Form the dough balls into oval shapes and stretch it gently so it's 5-6 cm long and 3cm wide.
  5. Place on well-floured baking tray, cover with greased clingwrap and allow to rise for about 30 minutes or until puffed up.
  6. Preheat the oil to 180 degrees celsius and fry the koesisters 3-4 at a time until golden brown and cooked through. Drain on paper towel and set aside to cool while you make the syrup.
  7. To make the syrup, place the sugar, naartjie juice and spices in a saucepan and cook over high heat until the sugar is dissolved. Turn the heat down and simmer gently.
  8. While the syrup is simmering, place the koesisters in the syrup and cook for 1-2 minutes, turning over regularly.
  9. Remove from the syrup and sprinkle with coconut. They are best served hot!
Adapted from from Cariema Isaacs Koesisters from My Cape Malay Kitchen
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calories
0
fat
0g
protein
0g
carbs
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Adapted from from Cariema Isaacs Koesisters from My Cape Malay Kitchen
The Kate Tin https://thekatetin.com/
Maltabella Chocolate Chip Cookies

Maltabella Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Maltabella (malted sorghum) gives these chewy chocolate chip cookies a malty nuttiness and dense texture which makes them my best chocolate chip cookie of all time! 

MALTABELLA CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Was I the only child in South Africa who was convinced/brain-washed into believing that maltabella was chocolate porridge? It never quite occurred to me that despite its deep brown colour, it didn’t really taste like chocolate at all! Luckily the lashings of butter and a sprinkling of brown sugar made up for any disappointment and so I grew to love this winter morning ritual. Maltabella is most definitely the taste of my childhood and probably most of South Africa’s! 

Maltabella is nothing more than malted sorghum so if it’s not as close to your heart as it is for me, feel free to swop it for any malt – like malted barley or malted wheat.

While the rest of the world has only just discovered sorghum as a ‘superfood’, here in South Africa, it’s been an integral part of our cuisine and culture for ages so I love to champion it in anything I can – including dessert, of course! Last year, I took another South African favourite, the buttermilk rusk and added maltabella to make these moreish Maltabella Rusks which are heavenly with a cup of rooibos! Have you tried baking with maltabella yet? If not, give my chocolate chip cookies a try! 

Maltabella Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yields 24
My ultimate chocolate chip cookie with a South African childhood twist to it - malted sorghum flour, which gives it a delicious nuttiness.
Print
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
25 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
25 min
0 calories
0 g
0 g
0 g
0 g
0 g
0 g
0 g
0 g
0 g
0 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
0g
Yields
24
Amount Per Serving
Calories 0
Calories from Fat 0
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 0g
0%
Saturated Fat 0g
0%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 0mg
0%
Total Carbohydrates 0g
0%
Dietary Fiber 0g
0%
Sugars 0g
Protein 0g
Vitamin A
0%
Vitamin C
0%
Calcium
0%
Iron
0%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 200g salted butter (or margarine), softened
  2. 340g light demerara sugar (I used Natura Sugars)
  3. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  4. 2 tbsp milk
  5. 1 large egg, at room temperature
  6. 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
  7. 250g cake flour
  8. 230g maltabella (malted sorghum) or malt flour
  9. ¼ tsp baking powder
  10. ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  11. 250g The Kate Tin Dark Baking Chocolate, chopped into chunks
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C (or 160°C fan-forced).
  2. Line two cookie sheets with non-stick baking paper.
  3. Melt the butter over a low heat and simmer until it reaches a golden brown colour and starts to smell nutty – about 5 minutes.
  4. Quickly remove the brown butter from the heat and pour into a bowl.
  5. Refrigerate until the butter has set but is still soft.
  6. Place the soft brown butter and the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and cream for 8-10 minutes until pale, creamy and light.
  7. Add the vanilla, milk and egg.
  8. Add the flour, maltabella, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and chopped chocolate and mix to combine.
  9. Drop tablespoonfuls of the cookie batter onto the prepared baking trays, leaving enough room for spreading.
  10. Bake for 15-16 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are golden brown but the centre should still be moist.
Notes
  1. If you can't find malted sorghum, you can substitute with any malted flour (barley or wheat) or simply substitute with 100g cake flour.
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The Kate Tin https://thekatetin.com/

Moerkoffie Cake with Condensed Milk Drip

Moerkoffie Cake with Condensed Milk Drip

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This moerkoffie cake is really a chocolate marbled cake inspired by the plumes and clouds made when condensed milk is poured into strong, black moerkoffie (bitter coffee). It’s covered in a chocolate coffee French buttercream and finished with a condensed milk drip glaze. 

It was while sitting at Kobus van der Merwe’s famous Wolfgat restaurant in Paternoster along the West Coast that I got an idea for this moerkoffie cake. The meal was faultless and an honest, innovative ode to the ingredients and culture of the area; the entire meal made from local seaweed and herbs foraged from the sand dunes along the coast. A true tribute to the area and the perfect end to the meal was a cup of strong, bitter moerkoffie sweetened with condensed milk. Inspiration struck! 

I’ve put a spin on our good old Peppermint Crisp Tart, and our milk tart so why not our moerkoffie? 

If you don’t know what moerkoffie is, it’s a quintessentially South African style of making coffee that’s as unglamorous as it comes. Made in an enamel tea pot, traditionally over a fire, the ground coffee is boiled until the life has literally left it – all day, to be exact.  A short rest so the coffee grinds sink to the bottom and the bitter, hair-on-your-chest brew is then poured into cups (enamel, preferably) before getting the finishing touch. A very generous swirl of condensed milk – straight out the tin, please! 

It may not be as refined or well known as Vietnamese coffee, or the Spanish cafe bombon, but the combination of strong, bitter coffee and condensed milk is utterly delicious. How it hasn’t yet been turned into a dessert is beyond me! 

The cake itself is a mocha vanilla swirl reminiscent of the clouds that form when you pour condensed milk into the coffee and it’s soaked in a moerkoffie syrup then topped with a mocha French buttercream. To finish, a sticky condensed milk drip that only uses 1/4 of a tin of condensed milk. I don’t need to tell you what to do with the rest, do I? 

  

MOERKOFFIE CAKE
Serves 8
This marbled cake is inspired by the plumes made when condensed milk is poured into strong, black moerkoffie (ground coffee made in a pot/kettle over an open fire)
Print
Prep Time
3 hr 20 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
4 hr
Prep Time
3 hr 20 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
4 hr
0 calories
0 g
0 g
0 g
0 g
0 g
0 g
0 g
0 g
0 g
0 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
0g
Servings
8
Amount Per Serving
Calories 0
Calories from Fat 0
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 0g
0%
Saturated Fat 0g
0%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 0mg
0%
Total Carbohydrates 0g
0%
Dietary Fiber 0g
0%
Sugars 0g
Protein 0g
Vitamin A
0%
Vitamin C
0%
Calcium
0%
Iron
0%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. MARBLED CAKE
  2. 250g salted butter, softened
  3. 10ml (2 tsp) vanilla extract
  4. 550g castor sugar
  5. 6 large eggs
  6. 300g (2 cups) cake flour
  7. 150g (1 cup) self-raising flour
  8. 3,5g (½ tsp) bicarbonate of soda
  9. 245ml full-cream milk
  10. 50g The Kate Tin Cocoa Powder
  11. 5g (2 tsp) instant coffee powder
  12. MOERKOFFIE BUTTERCREAM ICING
  13. 300g white sugar
  14. 150ml moerkoffie , plus extra 125ml (½ cup), to brush
  15. 6 large egg yolks
  16. 720g unsalted butter, at room temperature, cubed
  17. 7g (1 tbsp) The Kate Tin Cocoa Powder, sifted
  18. 15ml (1 tbsp) brandy mixed with 2g (1 tsp) instant coffee powder
  19. CONDENSED MILK DRIP
  20. 4g (1 tsp) powdered gelatine
  21. 30ml (2 tbsp) water
  22. 150g white sugar
  23. 100g sweetened condensed milk
  24. 175g The Kate Tin Baking White Chocolate, finely chopped
  25. 5ml (1 tsp) vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 170˚C. Grease and line 3 cake tins (each with a diameter of 20cm) with baking paper. Set aside until needed.
  2. For the marbled cake, use a free-standing mixer or an electric hand-held beater to whisk the salted butter, 10ml (2 tsp) vanilla extract, castor sugar, eggs, cake flour, self-raising flour, bicarbonate of soda and full-cream milk together until pale and fluffy. Divide the mixture between two bowls. Fold the 50g cocoa powder and 5g (2 tsp) instant coffee powder into one half until thoroughly incorporated.
  3. Using a small measuring cup as a scoop, drop a dollop of the vanilla batter into the centre of each prepared cake tin. Next, drop a cupful of the coffee batter into the centre of each blob of vanilla batter. Repeat with the remaining batter, alternating between the vanilla and coffee flavours as you go. When finished, tap the cake tins on a flat surface to spread the batter evenly.
  4. Bake the cakes in the preheated oven until a skewer inserted into the centres of the cakes comes out clean, about 20 – 30 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool in the tins. Once cool enough to touch, remove the cakes from the tins and transfer to a wire cooling rack. Use a serrated bread knife to cut the top off each cake to create a flat surface.
  5. For the moerkoffie buttercream icing, place the 300g white sugar and 150ml moerkoffie in a medium saucepan. Stir over low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat and bring the mixture to a boil until it reaches soft ball stage. Remove from heat and set aside.
  6. Use a free-standing mixer or an electric hand-held beater to whisk the egg yolks until pale and fluffy. Gradually pour the hot sugar syrup down the inside of the bowl, while whisking continuously. Continue to whisk until the mixture thickens and becomes cool to the touch. Slowly add the unsalted butter (one cube at a time) until the mixture turns creamy. Whisk in the 7g (1 tbsp) sifted cocoa powder and fold in the brandy mixture. Set aside until needed.
  7. To assemble, stack the cakes on top of one another on a cake stand, spreading a thick layer of the moerkoffie buttercream icing between each layer. Brush the cakes with the moerkoffie as you go. Cover the entire cake with a thin layer of icing to form a crumb coat. Place in the fridge until the icing has set. Remove from fridge and add a second coat of frosting. Return to the fridge until set.
  8. While the cake is refrigerating, make the condensed milk drip. Place the powdered gelatine in a small, microwave-safe bowl (about the size of a teacup) and add enough cold water to just cover the gelatine. Set aside to soak for 1 minute. Once soaked, microwave in 10-second bursts until the gelatine has dissolved. Set aside until needed.
  9. Place the water, 150g white sugar and condensed milk in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Once boiling, remove from heat and add the gelatine. Stir until well incorporated then add the chopped white chocolate and 5ml (1 tsp) vanilla extract.
  10. Place the saucepan over an ice bath and whisk gently until the chocolate has melted and the mixture has thickened, about 5 minutes. Carefully pour the mixture over the edge of the cake, allowing it to slowly drip down the sides.
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calories
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fat
0g
protein
0g
carbs
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The Kate Tin https://thekatetin.com/
Moerkoffie Cake with Condensed Milk Drip

Doughnuts Stuffed with Milk Tart Filling

Doughnuts Stuffed with Milk Tart Filling

One of life’s best experiences is eating a still-hot doughnut straight from the deep-fryer. Like chilli it has that pleasure-pain thing going on that just drives me crazy! Hot doughnuts are pretty high on my list of ‘things that I crave the most late at night’ as my husband-to-be can attest to, afterall, it was on one of these craving days that I found out he was a keeper! It was about 10pm on a weeknight and I was tucked up in bed. I casually tossed out a ‘I could kill for a warm doughnut right now’ as if uttering the words out loud would somehow make the craving go away. In my doughnut-lusting state I completely missed him sneaking out the room and it was only when I heard the sound of dough being submerged in hot, bubbling oil that I realised my deep-fried carb dreams (and marriage aspirations) were about to come true! A few minutes later, he presented me with 5 perfect, piping hot, light-as-air doughnuts lightly dusted in cinnamon sugar. While I scoffed them under the duvet covers, I remember thinking that these were the best doughnuts of my life. And this was the best man of my life! While I’ve tried to recreate those 5 perfect doughnuts and been unsuccessful, these do come pretty darn close. Stuff them with raspberry jam or nutella if you wish, but since today is National Milk Tart Day, I thought I’d give them a custardy kick. I hope these make your deep-fried carb dreams come true just like they did mine!

Milk Tart Doughnuts

Makes 30.

 

Milk tart filling

600ml milk

2 tbsp (30ml) cornstarch (maizena)

1 tbsp (15ml) cake flour

4 tbsp (60ml) Natura Sugars Golden Caster Sugar

3 eggs, separated

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp ground cinnamon, plus extra for dusting

 

1 cup Natura Sugars Golden Caster Sugar

2 tbsp ground cinnamon

500g store-bought or homemade yeast dough, proved once (use my recipe here)

vegetable oil, for frying

 

For the filling, bring the milk to a boil (I added a cinnamon stick and bay leaf to mine). In the meantime, whisk together the cornstarch, flour, sugar, egg yolks, vanilla and cinnamon and a little of the milk to make a creamy paste. Pour the hot milk over the paste, whisking continuously then return to the heat and cook until thickened. Whisk the egg whites until stiff then whisk into the still-warm filling. Allow to cool then place into a piping bag. Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and set aside. To make the doughnuts, knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Roll 2 tablespoonful of dough into balls at a time and place on a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper and set aside for 30 minutes or until risen.

Place the oil and a sugar thermometer in a large, deep saucepan over medium heat until temperature reaches 180°C. Cook the doughnuts, in batches, for 1 minute each side or until golden. Drain on absorbent paper and immediately roll in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Carefully pierce doughnuts with a knife and fill with the custard. Serve immediately.

 

 

The Best South African Koeksister Recipe

The Best South African Koeksister Recipe

It was only about 3 hours into the drive along Route 62 when I realised what I was actually doing; I was travelling 400km into the middle of the Klein Karoo (aka nowhere) in search of ‘The Perfect Koeksister Recipe’. Those that know me, expect nothing less, but still, it was quite crazy. Even for me.

To catch you up to speed, a koeksister is a plaited, deep-fried doughnut drenched in a seriously sticky syrup. It’s a treat as South African as milk tart, biltong and beer. Like American’s and their doughnuts? Koeksisters are a big deal here – we take them as seriously as our rugby! We even have a monument dedicated to the treat! My search for sweetness led me all the way to the little town of Ladismith where rumour has it, I’d find the best. Although tuisnywerheid’s (little shops selling home-baked treats) have all but died out in the big cities, in a small town like Ladismith it is still the place to go for the best cakes, rusks and jams (and  also the latest skinner/gossip!)

Only the finest bakers get their goodies displayed on the shelves here. It was while scanning the fully-laden racks that I met Lallie Botha who tells me she was Ladismith’s first koeksister queen back in 1972 when she founded the tuisnywerheid. Back then, she would go through an 85L drum of oil each month! I was convinced I was in the right place – the people of Ladismith definitely love their koeksisters! After giving me some tips on what to look out for in the perfect koeksister, Lallie dished the dirt on who makes the best and sent me on my way (with 5 bottles of homemade jam). While walking through the town of Ladismith, I couldn’t resist stopping a few locals to ask about their favourite koeksisters. But it seemed the town was completely divided on who makes the best and I sensed a little competition between two particular bakers. It was definitely time for me to meet the koeksister contenders!

My first visit was to the home of Euradia Muller, who greeted me, voorskoot (apron) and all, before hurrying back into the kitchen while fretting that her koeksisters were now sitting in the syrup too long! Over a cup of milky rooibos tea brewed in a green teapot on the stove, Euradia caught her breath long enough to tell me that there are no secrets when it comes to making koeksisters! I could barely hide my disappointment. Had I come all this way for nothing?

Euradia wakes up at the crack of dawn to make the dough before the heat of the Klein Karoo sets in. She uses an heirloom ruler to measure her koeksisters – a lady after my own OCD heart! Her ‘sisters are cut into rectangles which are then halved and twisted before being deep-fried and plunged into ice cold syrup. She tells me that it is very important that the syrup is very cold. Finally! I had something to go on! My excitement was short-lived though as she then explained that the recipe was passed down to her by her mother who refused to give it to anyone. The recipe used to be kept under lock and key but is now engraved in her mind and she cooks it off by heart. My koeksister trek (mission) seemed more and more doomed. On leaving I was handed a neatly wrapped tray laden with freshly baked koeksisters and the instructions to store them in the fridge as soon as possible. But, as far as a recipe was concerned, I left empty-handed!

My disappointment was immediately forgotten though when I felt the warm Karoo hospitality the minute I was welcomed through the backdoor of Cynthia du Plessis’ farm kitchen. After I was shown photos of her 4 grandchildren, and told the long story of how her and her husband Willem moved from Pretoria to stay in Ladismith, I finally managed to sway the conversation back to her koeksisters. On hearing whose kitchen I’d just come from, Cynthia tells me she used to be a fan of Euradia’s but now bakes her own (I didn’t press the clearly sensitive matter!) But the big question was, would she share her secret recipe with an English girl from the big city?

I was in luck! Cynthia welcomed my enthusiasm with open arms and proceeded to run me through all her baking secrets like I was her granddaughter! I learnt to knead dough with my fists like a real Afrikaans tannie and mastered the trick to twisting the koeksisters just the right way so they don’t unravel while frying. And when it came to the syrup, I thought I was terribly clever when I eagerly offered my new-found knowledge from Euradia to use ice cold syrup, only to be told that it was actually the wrong way to make koeksisters! Ai. It seemed the only thing the two ladies did agree on, was that koeksisters need to be stored in the fridge to stay crisp. At least there was that!

As we finished deep-frying the twists, I stole a taste of Cynthia’s koeksisters. As to who’s were the best? I was undecided as they were equally delicious! But thankfully, this time, I left the kitchen (via the backdoor) with my mind filled with years of wisdom, a scribbled recipe in one hand, a packet full of fresh koeksisters in the other and two newly-adopted ouma’s who insist I come back to visit soon.

Cynthia’s Koeksisters

Recipe by Cynthia du Plessis

Note: While 165ml baking powder is a lot, Cynthia assured me it’s to keep the koeksisters crunchy in the syrup. Who am I to question the koeksister queen?! This recipe makes a large amount of koeksisters, so it’s safest to halve this recipe.

Makes 4 dozen

 

1250g cake flour

½ tbsp salt

165ml baking powder

1 ¼ cups milk

1 ½ cups water

5 large eggs

62g butter or margarine, softened

oil, for deep-frying

 

Syrup

12 cups sugar

6 cups water

2/3 cups lemon juice

1 ½ tbsp cream of tartar

1 tsp caramel essence (optional)

 

Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a large bowl. Whisk the milk, water and eggs together and add to the dry ingredients. Mix to form a soft dough then knead thoroughly for 10 minutes, adding a little butter or margarine in every now and then.

Cover the dough with clingwrap and place in the fridge overnight. Make the syrup by combining the sugar, water, juice, cream of tartar and caramel essence in a large pot and stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Boil the syrup for 10 minutes then allow to cool to room temperature. Break off a fist-sized chunk of the dough and roll out into a long sausage on a lightly oil-greased surface, then using a rolling pin, roll out to about 10cm wide. Cut into 1cm strips.

Take each strip then roll into a sausage, twist the ends around each other to form a koeksister shape and pinch the ends closed. Heat the oil to 180C then deep-fry the koeksisters, a few at a time, turning often to brown on all sides, until golden and cooked through.

Drain from the oil and immediately plunge into the room-temperature syrup, making sure to keep the koeksisters submerged so they soak up the syrup.  Drain the koeksisters from the syrup and allow to cool. To keep your koeksisters crispy, store them in the freezer. Remove them from the freezer 15 minutes before you want to serve them. Enjoy with a lekker koppie rooibos tee!

WATCH MY ADVENTURE HERE AND SEE HOW CYNTHIA MAKES HER KOEKSISTERS:

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