Vetkoek: the easy, delicious recipe for a classic South African bread

Total time: 75 Min
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 12 people
By Cookist
water, lukewarm
2 cups
White sugar
1/4 cup
Active Dry Yeast
1-25 ounce package
All-purpose flour
7 cups
2 tsp
Oil for frying
3 cups

With its crispy outside and soft, fluffy, and chewy inside, vetkoek is an amazing, incredibly tasty fried dough bread that is a staple part of South African cuisine. Made from a yeast dough, vetkoek, or fat cake in English is an easy-to-make snack that you can make in no time.

While it's usually made in savory versions, you can also make sweet vetkoek. It's popular in South Africa where it is enjoyed on its own or filled with mouthwatering minced curry, cheese, ham, and other fillings. Enjoy vetkoek as a snack or as a light meal during the day.

What is Vetkoek?

Vetkoek, or fat cake, is a type of traditional fried dough bread from South Africa. It's a delicious savory fried dough bread that is similar to Dutch oliebollen, Mexican sopaipillas, and Caribbean Johnnycake. It's made from yeast dough and can be filled, often with curry.

Vetkoek's origins are with the Dutch settlers who came to South Africa in the late 1700s and early 1800s. The most basic recipes simply use flour, salt, water, and yeast, but some versions, like this one, also call for sugar in the recipe. Others even use milk and egg – it's up to you which version you decide to make.

What to Pair with Vetkoek

In South Africa, vetkoek is often stuffed with minced curry and enjoyed as a hearty snack. You can make unfilled versions and serve them with anything from avocado, sausage, cheese, chicken, ham, tuna, or any other tasty savory dish you like. They're also wonderful with jam.

Tips for Making South African Vetkoek

Aim for a temperature of 105 to 115F for the water.

The ideal temperature for frying the vetkoek is 350F. Use a candy thermometer to test the temperature of the oil before you start cooking them.

Don't refrigerate leftover vetkoek as they will become soggy and oily.

Vetkoek is made from yeast dough. It can't be made without yeast unless you have a sourdough starter on hand to leaven the dough.

How to Store Vetkoek

Let the vetkoek cool completely, then place them in an airtight container and keep them at room temperature for up to 2 days.

How to Make Vetkoek

Add the water, sugar, and yeast to a bowl. Stir and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes until the mixture becomes frothy.

Add the flour and salt to a large bowl. Whisk to combine.

Add the yeast mixture to the flour. Knead for 5 to 7 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Cover with a damp cloth and leave the dough to rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

Lightly flour a work surface. Cut off a piece of dough about the size of a tennis ball. Roll, then flatten out into a disc. Repeat with the rest of the dough.

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven. Fry the dough discs for 2 to 3 minutes on each side until golden brown.

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