Generously scattered around the Netherlands at this time of year are oliebollen stands. You will find these sweet Dutch treats at winter fairs and Christmas markets and in any town centre. However, you can also make your own with this recipe.
The Dutch Doughnut
Olibollen are deep fried dough balls, usually covered in icing sugar. Translated as ‘oil balls’ they are commonly labeled as Dutch doughnuts. However, they have no hole in the middle and are actually likely to be the precursor to the common North American doughnut.
Having been around for centuries, oliebollen have Germanic origins and came about as offerings to keep the Gods on site, albeit more in the form of a biscuit than the dough ball of today.
Through the years the dough ball emerged and the Dutch take their oliebollen very seriously, some joining long queues to sample those made by the national winner of the ‘best oliebollen’ annual contest.
New Year’s Eve
As soon as the cold days approach bakers start setting up their stands but actually oliebollen are traditionally eaten on New Year’s Eve. They are a staple part of seeing in a new year whilst watching fireworks or the huge bonfires on the beach and toasting with a glass of champagne.
Make Your Own Oliebollen
If you are not lucky enough to be in the Netherlands during the winter months then you can make your own oliebollen. Here’s what you’ll need to make between 25 and 30:
- 500 ml lukewarm milk
- 1 pack of dry yeast (7 gr)
- 3 tbs of sugar
- 500 gr flour
- 1 egg
- pinch of salt
- 150 gr raisins
- 150 gr currants or cranberries
- 1 lemon
- icing sugar
- oil for frying
- Add the yeast and ⅓ of the sugar to the warm (not hot) milk to activate the yeast.
- Beat the egg and set it aside.
- Put the flour in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the middle.
- Pour the yeast mix and the beaten egg into the well.
- Add the remaining sugar and the salt and mix well with a spatula until you have a dough mix.
- Cover the bowl with a damp tea cloth and put in a warm place for 90 minutes until the dough has doubled in size.
- Heat the oil to 180°C.
- Meanwhile, add the fruit to the dough mix and combine well.
- Use an ice cream scoop to put a ball of mix into the oil. Place no more than 5 or 6 balls at a time in the oil to avoid the oil cooling too much. Take the oliebollen out of the oil once they are golden brown.
- Dust with icing sugar and as the Dutch say – lekker smullen!
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