Oliebol stands pop up in the Netherlands as early as mid-to-late November and coincide with dropping temperatures, comfort food cravings and holiday season. Considered a widely popular tradition, the Dutch (population: 16-17 million) consume about 130 million oliebollen (7-8 oliebollen pp) each holiday season!
The first documented recipe appears in a Dutch cook book published in 1669, but the tradition is presumed to be centuries older (exact date unknown). The first iteration of the oliebol, was actually flat, more like a fried cookie than ball and consumed year-round, particularly during the colder winter months.
The homeless and hungry would knock on doors between December 21 and January 6, singing Christmas carols in exchange for oily cookies. The cookie was transformed into a ball, containing more expensive ingredients (apple, currants, raisins) in the 19th century. Oliebollen are now ubiquitous Dutch New Year’s Eve treats and widely considered precursors to the popular American Donut. But Americans love their sweet treat so much, that they’re available year-round, sometimes even consumed on a daily basis (we don’t blame them!)
Though temperatures never drop too much in Curaçao, our New Year’s Eve remains loyal to our Dutch settlers. We savor delicious oliebollen between December 27 and New Year’s Eve, to ring in a sweet and light new year. We recommend you do the same… No one wants ‘oliebol’ top on the beach!
(Adapted from Jane Lawson’s Snowflakes and Schnapps Cookbook by way of Almost Bourdain)
10 g fresh yeast
2 tbsp caster (superfine) sugar
125 ml lukewarm full-cream (whole) milk
190 g plain all-purpose flour
A large pinch sea salt
1 tbsp rum (optional)
1 small egg
1 1/2 tbsp raisins, chopped (or currants)
1 granny smith apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped (optional)
1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
sunflower oil, for deep-frying
icing (confectioner’s) sugar and cinnamon, for dusting
1. Break up the fresh yeast then mash together with 1 tsp of the sugar and 60 ml (2 fl oz / 1/4 cup) of warm milk until smooth. Set aside in a warm place for 15 minutes or until frothy.
2. Sift the flour, sea salt and remaining sugar into a bowl and make a whole in the center. Pour in the warm milk, rum, yeast mixture and the egg and mix well to combine.
3. Stir in the raisins, apple and lemon zest, combining well. Cover and rest in a warm place, until doubled in size – will take about an hour or so.
4. Bang the bowl a couple of times on the work surface to knock out some of the air.
5. Fill a deep-fryer or large heavy-based saucepan one-third full with oil and heat to 350F, or until a cube of bread dropped into the oil browns in 15 seconds.
6. Using two spoons, carefully drop rounded tablespoons of the mixture into the oil, use one spoon to push the mixture off the other, and cook for about 6 minutes, or until puffed and golden and cooked all the way through.
7. Drain on paper towels.
8. Sieve powdered sugar over the ‘oliebollen’ as well as a dusting of ground cinnamon, and serve warm.
Tips (from About.com)
- Don’t store the uncooked dough for more than an hour or two (covered with a damp dish towel), because the yeast will remain active. Instead, make and fry the dough as needed.
- If the fritters are uncooked on the inside, the oil is either too hot or too cold. The oil should not be hotter than 350 F. Oil that is too cold is the result of frying too many oliebollen at the same time.
- Allow leftover oliebollen to go stone cold and then store in an airtight container at room temperature. They will keep for approximately two days.
- Leftovers can be warmed in a preheated oven at 390 F for 15 minutes or in the microwave on high for 20 to 30 seconds.
- Leftovers can also be frozen; they’ll keep in the freezer for about 2 months. To eat, defrost and warm as above.
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