Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Oliebollen, a Dutch New Year's Eve tradition

Oliebol  (Pronounced oh-lee-bowl)
An oliebol is a traditional Dutch food.  The plural Oliebollen (oh-lee-bowl-ah) are traditionally eaten on New Year's Eve.
Oliebollen are a variety of dumpling made by using two spoons to scoop a certain amount of dough and dropping the dough into a deep fryer filled with hot oil. In this way, a sphere-shaped oliebol emerges.
The dough is made from flour, eggs, yeast, some salt, milk, baking powder and usually sultanas, currants, raisins and sometimes apple pieces and zest.  In some family recipes, beer is added to the dough.  The dough needs time to rise for at least an hour and are usually served with powdered sugar.

Ok, now that we've got the formalities out of the way, here's my thing.  Not that I can't make oliebollen homemade but, my husband has made me kinda nervous because nothing can live up to how his Oma made them.  She was a very good cook and my husband's face lights up every time he talks about what things she cooked for him in his youth.  It's all very sweet .. so, I already know from other cooking experiences that he'll tell me, "That's not how she did it .." or "I like it better this way 'cause Oma always makes it like this for me."  So, how could I possibly match her in the oliebollen department?  I used a BOX mix .. yes, you read that right!  I used a box mix when we lived in the Netherlands but since coming back to America, my only other option was to either make them from scratch or find a Dutch food website and order from them.  It just so happened our lovely Dutch friend Erna sent us a care package before Christmas and among it's treasures was this one box of oliebollen mix.  It's like she 'knew' we'd need it .. she's eerie like that!  With that being said, I began my oliebollen making.  A little late though as I made them after midnight ..

So I cheated and used the boxed oliebollen mix, sue me!

After letting it rise for an hour, the dough is ready to be formed into 'oil balls', hence oliebollen ..

Gentle ..

Careful ..

We have a ball! Getting ready to plunk it into the hot oil ..

 And there it is, oliebollen in the making ..

The one cool thing about oliebollen is that it miraculously turns itself over in the oil, making less work for the cook .. awesome!

Mmmmm, looking gooooood ..

After they're removed onto paper towel, shake a bit of powdered sugar on them while still hot ..

I happen to like LOTS of powdered sugar!

Look how gorgeous and golden brown they are .. just the way they're supposed to be ..

My Mama bought this old glass flour shaker many years ago and never used it. It's absolutely perfect for my powdered sugar!

And there you have it, oliebollen for the New Year. The box says you get 25 oliebollen but, I like mine big and I got 17 out of it. Gelukkig nieuwjaar!!

If you feel adventuous, here's a recipe I found on bigoven.com:

Oliebollen - Dutch Doughnuts

  • 2/3 oz. Fresh yeast (1 cake)
  • 1 1/2 c. Currants and raisins, washed
  • 1 Tart cooking apple
  • 2 1/4 c. flour
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • Oil for deep frying
  • 1 c. milk  
First blend the yeast with a little lukewarm milk.  Sift the flour and salt.  Add milk, mix to batter with yeast and egg.  Add currants, raisins and peeled minced apple.  Leave batter in a warm place to rise to double its size.
Heat the fat to 375 F. (190 C).  Put two metal spoons in the batter.  Shape balls with the two spoons and drop them in the fat.  Fry them for 8 minutes until brown.  The doughnuts should be soft and shouldnt be grease soaked inside.  If they are fried too slowly the crust becomes hard and tough and the doughnuts become greasy.  Drain on absorbant paper.  Serve them piled on a dish and cover thickly with confectioners sugar.  Eat them hot, if possible.  Makes 20 oliebollen.

If you're not adventurous and want to buy a boxed mix, there's a website called Typical Dutch Stuff that carries Koopmans Oliebollen Mix which is just as good as Markant.  There's nothing wrong with wussing out every once in a while.  Maybe next New Year's Eve, I may give it a shot .. but, don't hold me to it!