New Years Eve just wouldn’t be the same without Dutch oliebollen. These deep-fried dough balls studded with rum soaked raisins and doused in icing sugar is the way Netherlanders ring in the New Year. It’s a centuries old tradition and it’s said that oliebollen were likely the precursor to the modern day donut, thanks to the Dutch settlers bringing their recipes with them to the New World.
‘Young woman with a cooking pot filled with oliebollen’ (Aelbert Cuyp, ca. 1652). Sourced from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oliebol
I have wonderful childhood memories of my Dutch family and friends getting together for New Year parties and partaking of oliebollen, along with deep-fried apple fritters, otherwise known as appelbeignets (let’s not even start a conversation about calories!). And why do we love them? Coz they’re crunchy on the outside, soft and doughy on the inside and far too moreish for their own good – thank heavens they’re a once-a-year treat only!
I found this great recipe at The Dutch Table.com – my new go-to site for authentic Dutch recipes. I doubled the recipe and made 20 balls (ice-cream scoop size). They’re extremely easy to make and, so long as your oil is hot enough, you can’t go wrong with them. I do hope you get to try them out at least once in your life – you’ll need to go on a diet for a week afterwards, but hey… some things are worth it! Happy New Year!
OLIEBOLLEN (Deep fried dough balls)
Makes about 8-10 (depending on size)
- 2 Tbsp raisins
- A little dark rum or water, to soak raisins in
- 2 tsp active dry yeast
- ½ cup of milk, warmed
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ Tbsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp lemon zest
- Pinch of salt
- 1 egg, lightly whisked
- 1 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled
- 2 litres (8 cups) vegetable oil, for frying
- Icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar), to dust
- Soak the raisins in some rum or warm water (enough to cover) for several hours before making the oliebollen (preferably the night before). When ready to make the oliebollen, drain the raisins and put aside.
- Scatter the yeast in the warm milk and leave it for 10-15 minutes to ‘sponge’ – if the yeast is still active, it will froth up. If it doesn’t, you’ll probably need to buy new yeast.
- In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and lemon zest. Stir in the milk/yeast mix. Add the salt, whisked egg and melted butter and stir the batter until combined well. Finally, stir in the drained raisins.
- Cover with a tea-towel and let it rise until it doubles in volume (this may take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour). As you can see from the photo below, the batter is quite wet. It puffs up and bubbles when it rises and, when you stir it, it’ll look quite stringy. Stir the mixture to deflate it, then cover and allow to rise again (the second time should be shorter).
- In the meantime, heat the oil in the fryer up to 180C (356F). Place a plate with several paper towels to soak up the excess fat of the fried balls.
- Stir the batter (it will deflate again). Now use a large spoon or an ice cream scoop to scoop out a portion of the batter (you’ll find it’s easier if you wet the spoon in water before each scoop). Drop it into the hot oil and fry for about 2-3 minutes on each side or until a deep golden brown. Lift out each ball with a slotted spoon and drain on the paper towels (you will need to refresh the towels for each batch).
- Transfer the oliebollen to a serving plate and sprinkle with icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar) to serve. They can be served warm or cold.
Food Photography Info: Canon 550D (EOS Rebel T2i); Canon 50mm 1.8 lens / Natural lighting