Traditional Cape Malay Koeksisters (koesiesters) With A Twist [Paleo, Gluten free, Grain free, Refined Sugar Free]

There is something about a warm koeksister and steaming cup of coffee (or tea!) that just screams ‘comfort from the cold’! Try these paleo ones – yep, I also thought them impossible until I did it!

HOW was this even going to happen…? No gluten, no grains, no sugar but still a batch of koeksisters??? Really??? I have been ‘researching’ aka googling every traditional Cape Malay koeksisters recipe I could find and sat scratching my head about how on earth I was going to pull this one off. Then, in this cold weather, I wanted nothing more than a cuppa tea and some comfort food so I started experimenting. 

Traditional recipes call for mashed potato so naturally, some mashed sweet potato was a must, particularly for some sweetness as well as texture. Tapioca flour was always going to feature though I didn’t realize just how much I would need until after I made the batter and had to add a helluva lot more than initially anticipated! So yeah, this is not going to be great for everyday indulgences because of two reasons: 

1. They’re addictive! No really, you cannot eat just one.

2. See point number 1 above… Yes. These are so good that they’re bad. 

Now, don’t say I didn’t warn you! 

Also, using gluten free flours the dough will not come together quite as easily as regular dough. It will be sticky – I added more than enough flour until I got to the point where I thought well, why don’t I just eat a bag of tapioca flour and call it a day. It was bordering on ridiculous really! You’ll need to just lightly wet your hands to handle the dough when forming the shape in your hands to fry. 

Now do bear in mind that this is a substitute and as such will NEVER be exactly the same as the real thing, but dagnabbit, it’s a pretty close second! The tapioca flour does create a ‘gluey’ texture but with the crunchy outside, soft gooey inside, and with the honey and coconut drizzled over … Mmmmmmhmmmm!


Do be ready for some preparation to get the different components ready but it is a labour of love so enjoy the process 😉 However, although it does seem like a lot going on, it’s actually rather simple and not complicated at all. You may need to adjust some of the flour quantities depending on the batch of tapioca you use (trust me, I have to do it too!). Well, I think that about covers the tips I needed to pass on so let’s get to it! 

Recipe for Paleo Cape Malay Koeksisters

Yield: 12 palm-sized koeksisters

Prep time: 20-30 minutes (including boiling the potato)

Cooking time: 10 -15 minutes 

What you need 

2/3 cup mashed sweet potato (peel and cube a sweet potato, boil, and mash with 2 tspns butter in a blender to ensure it’s completely smooth) 

1/4 cup melted butter

1 jumbo egg

1 tblspn raw honey 

2-3 tblspns almond milk, lukewarm

3/4 cup almond flour

1.5-2 cups tapioca flour (you might need more after mixing if the dough is still too sticky)

2 tblspns coconut flour (this dries out the dough so you can handle it slightly better)

2 tspns baking powder

1 tspn cinnamon powder

1 tspn ground ginger 

1 tspn mixed spice 

Pinch of salt

Raw honey and dessicated coconut to drizzle over the cooked koeksisters

What you need to do (first, read the entire blog post for tips!)

1. Boil and mash the potato as directed above. 

2. Mix the dry ingredients together. 

3. Add melted butter, egg, honey, and lukewarm milk to a small bowl and whisk together. 

4. Add mashed potato and egg mixture to the flour mixture and form a soft (erm … Sticky-ish) dough.  Allow to ‘rest’ for 10 minutes. 

5. Add coconut oil to a frying pan (enough to cover the entire surface of your pan). Wet your hands lightly by rubbing a bit of water over them and then scoop out a piece of dough and shape between your hands. Add to frying pan. Fry as many as you can at a time. Turn them over to ensure even cooking.  

6. Ensure they are properly browned all around.  

7. Remove from oil and place on a plate lined with kitchen paper. Once the oil has drained somewhat, place onto a serving dish and drizzle with honey. Sprinkle with dessicated coconut – and eat whilst warm!!  


Done! Now it’s time to sit back and try your damnest to not eat more than one – if you can manage that, well, you’re a superhero!! Enjoy 😉 

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9 thoughts on “Traditional Cape Malay Koeksisters (koesiesters) With A Twist [Paleo, Gluten free, Grain free, Refined Sugar Free]

  1. Pingback: Afrogem | Koeksisters. Uniquely South African

    • These are great, but certainly not for Reboot. Trying to do this with date paste will be a disaster I’m afraid. Plus, pseudo-junk is not really encouraged on Reboot so I’d save them for after 😉


  2. Hi Melissa/Living Spot:

    I would like to make these koeksisters for work,, though need a few points clarified regarding servimg them at work.

    I need to make them the day before and refrigerate them. I would like to serve them, as described in recommended, hot. What are recommendations, if there is only a microwave available to heat them? 1. At what microwave power? 2. How many units are available to be microwaved at the same time? 3. How many seconds or minutes are they to be microwaved? 4. How many minutes does one need to wait before serving them, so they are not scorching hot, before consumed?

    Thanks, in advance of your time and reply.


    • Hi there,

      These are not going to roll out into a dough like regular koesiesters, so braiding is out of the question. They’re Paleo and as I mention in the actual post, it is a very sticky dough that requires gentle handling.

      Also, recipes with tapioca flour, when microwaved, become very chewy and not very nicely textured (in my opinion). These are meant to be cooked and eaten when needed.

      Hope that helps 👍


    • I do say it a LOT in the post – this is very very sticky and you do need to keep adding flour, and to use wet hands when handling it. Also, tapioca is never going to give you the exact texture of regular flour.


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