What is Oliebollen?
New Year’s Eve at the Noordijk house was always filled with laughter, games, and oliebollen. ‘Oil balls’ is the literal translation; a more appetizing translation would be Dutch doughnuts. My dad was the oliebollen maker in our family, he emigrated from the Netherlands as an adult and brought this Dutch New Year’s Eve tradition with him.
He would prepare the dough in the kitchen, I was always amazed at how thinly he could peel the apple and all in one piece. My brother would setup a table in the garage with a hotplate, large pot, and utensils so the house wasn’t filled with the odor of fried food. When the dough was ready my dad would head to the garage for frying. He’d drop balls of dough in the hot oil, watch them flip, scoop them out with a slotted spoon when they were golden brown, and set the doughnuts on a plate lined with paper towels. The final Dutch touch was dusting powdered sugar on the tops. Opa would proudly bring a plate inside and the rush was on. A special batch without raisins or apples was made for his grandsons. That night or the following day we would deliver plates of oliebollen to neighbors and friends.
This Dutch tradition is a delightfully delicious way to enter a new year.
2 TBSP raisins
2 tsp active dry yeast
½ cup lukewarm mild
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ TBSP sugar
½ tsp lemon zest
1 tart apple chopped in cubes (Granny Smith works well)
Pinch of salt
1 egg, lightly whisked
1 TBSP butter, melted and cooled
8 cups vegetable oil, for deep frying
Powdered sugar for dusting
1. Dissolve the yeast in the milk, leave for a few minutes to get frothy.
2. Mix the flour, salt and sugar.
3. Add the egg and the yeast-milk mixture to the flour.
4. Use a wooden spoon, whisk (needs to be a sturdy one) or dough-hooks and a mixer to mix everything together.
5. Keep mixing for about 10 minutes to develop the gluten.
6. Mix in the raisins and apple.
7. Cover the bowl and leave to rise for about 1 hour.
8. Heat the oil in a deep fryer or suitable pot to 350F.
9. Form spheres from the risen batter with 2 spoons, or an ice cream scoop, dipped in the hot oil and let them slide into the hot oil.
10. Bake them until brown, in 4-6 minutes. When the temperature of the oil is correct, the oliebollen will turn their selves over when the first side has browned enough.
11. Take the oliebollen from the oil with a slotted spoon, place them in a colander to get rid of most of the oil, then place them in another colander layered with kitchen paper towels. Use more kitchen paper towels between the layers. The towels will absorb the remaining oil.
12. Use the same method to bake the rest of the dough.
13. Eat hot, cold or reheated in the microwave and dusted with powdered sugar.
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