Vetkoek, also known as ‘fat cakes,’ is, in our opinion, right at the top of the list of traditional South African foods. In fact, we at FinGlobal would go so far as to say that South African vetkoek and mince rub proverbial elbows with infamous Saffa favorites such as biltong, droewors, and bobotie! If you haven’t experienced the delicious crisp yet chewy texture of golden vetkoek dripping with melted butter and stuffed with savoury mince, or oozing dollops of golden syrup, then you haven’t lived! Ask any Saffa, and you’ll find they readily agree that Ouma se vetkoek recipe is a staple in every South African household!
What is vetkoek?
For those who don’t know, vetkoek is traditionally made from deep-fried, unsweetened yeast dough. These small savoury cake-like balls resemble doughnuts but without the sugary coatings and well-known doughnut-style holes. Synonymous with South African culture since the 17th century, vetkoek is often eaten with mince, honey, jam, or syrup. According to the yellowing history books, vetkoek was preferred to bread in the old days because it stayed fresher for longer.
How is vetkoek prepared?
Vetkoek dough is traditionally prepared in the same way as bread by adding baking powder or yeast to flour to form a soft dough. Next, the dough is rolled into small balls and deep-fried in oil until golden brown. A well-made vetkoek is crispy on the outside yet soft and chewy in the center. Once cooked, the dough balls are slit down the side and stuffed with a variety of fillings ranging from traditional curried mince, butter, and jam to more decadent fancies such as chicken mayo, pulled pork, or slivers of beef and coleslaw. The great part about the humble vetkoek is that it can be dressed up (filled with glamourous fillings) or down (slathered in butter), depending on your cravings.
The ultimate easy vetkoek recipe
If all this talk of deep-fried dough and tasty fillings has you reaching for Ouma se vetkoek recipe, you are not alone. We were just doing the exact same thing! But, while making fresh vetkoek is both exciting and exhilarating (for the tastebuds), it can be particularly frustrating to find that you don’t have the one ingredient needed to whip up a batch of these tasty morsels – yeast! Thankfully a modern yeast-free easy vetkoek recipe is just as delicious and much quicker to make; just don’t tell Ouma we said so!
What you need:
To make this vetkoek recipe without yeast, you will need to gather a few basic ingredients.
- 240 ml Natural Greek yoghurt (thick, unsweetened)
- 140 g self-raising flour/plain cake flour with 1tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- Oil for frying (Canola oil/ sunflower oil)
- Wok/large frying pan
What to do
Using a spatula, combine the Greek yoghurt, flour and salt.
- Next, get your hands into the mixture and gently shape the dough into a ball. If you notice the dough is too sticky and refusing to form a nice smooth ball, add an additional tablespoon of flour to the mixture and continue manipulating it until it forms a ball.
- Tip the dough ball out onto a lightly floured surface and, using a knife, divide it into 6-8 equal portions depending on the size vetkoek you want to make.
- Use the flat of your hand to lightly press down on each portion, creating flattish, oval-shaped pieces of dough that are ½ cm thick. Don’t worry; they will puff up during the cooking process!
- Now it’s time to cook your vetkoek. Place the wok or large frying onto the stove, add the oil (about 2.5 cm deep), and heat the oil.
- To ensure the oil is hot enough, add a small pinch of dough to the pan; when the oil starts to sizzle and turn the dough brown, the oil is hot enough to cook the vetkoek.
- Before adding the dough to the oil, reduce the temperature to prevent the vetkoek from burning on the outside while remaining raw on the inside. Trust us, not a good vetkoek to eat!
- Use a spatula to carefully lower the dough balls into the hot oil. Try not to overcrowd the pan, as the vetkoek will get puffy while cooking, and you will need space to turn them over.
- Cook the vetkoek slowly over low heat, turning them regularly to ensure they cook evenly; this should take about five minutes.
- The vetkoek are cooked when they are crisp and golden on the outside.
- Remove the vetkoek from the hot oil and place them on a piece of paper towel to cool before serving.
The final stukkie vetkoek
Fresh vetkoek are so versatile you can eat them plain without a filling or stuffed with anything that takes your fancy. While most Saffas would opt for traditional curried mince or apricot jam, vetkoek are also great for creating decadent sandwiches or as an excellent alternative to bread when slurping on a gorgeous bowl of soup or gravy-rich stew! But, of course, this isn’t something we need to tell you, especially if you are a born and ‘bread’ South African!
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