A Culinary Trip Through Europe: Oliebollen

Warm and fatty: who can resist these tasty oliebollen?
Oliebollen have definitely been around since the 17th century, but they are probably even older. They originate from ‘oliekoek’, a round pastry which was baked with raisins, flour, eggs, apple and rapeseed oil. However, these ‘oil cakes’ contained more herbs, raisins and fruit than the current oliebollen. The first real oliebollen recipe came from a cookbook from the year 1668.
Nowadays you can find oliebollen in the Netherlands and Belgium. In the Netherlands they are mostly eaten with currants and raisins. In Belgium, in contrast, they are eaten plain with a little dusting of icing sugar. Translated literally oliebollen means oil cakes. They taste similar to doughnuts and are sometimes called Dutch doughnuts or dutchies in English.
In the Netherlands you normally see them at New Year’s, where they are often eaten together with apple turnovers. In Belgium you are more likely to see them at the Kermesse festival. But wherever they are eaten, the balls are first sprinkled with sugar.
Is your mouth watering already? We’ll show you what you need to prepare oliebollen and how to make them particularly delicious!
Ingredients for 20 oliebollen:
  • 500 ml milk
  • 500 g flour
  • 40 g butter
  • 1 packet of yeast (7 g)
  • 1 egg
  • 4 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 bottle of fry oil or sunflower oil
  • Pinch of salt
  • 150 g currants (can also be left out if preferred)
  • Icing sugar
  • Think about which kind of oliebollen you want to make before you start. If you want to make the traditional Dutch oliebollen, then we recommend soaking the currants for 15 minutes the night before and then leaving them to dry.
  • Pour half the milk into a large bowl and add the sugar, room temperature butter and salt.
  • Weigh out 500 g of flour and sieve it into the bowl with a flour sifter. Form a small hollow in the middle.
  • Add the yeast, the rest of the milk and the egg and mix everything well.
  • Place a tea towel over the bowl and leave the dough to rise for an hour.
  • Did you decide to make the Dutch version? Then add the currants once the dough has risen enough. With the Flemish version you can skip this step.
  • Now is where the action really starts! Pour the oil into a fryer or a large pot and heat it to around 175 degrees Celsius.
  • When the oil has reached the correct temperature, you can use an ice cream scoop or a tablespoon to add a few balls of dough to the pot. Turn the oliebollen over after a short time if they do not turn over by themselves. They are done when they turn a nice brown colour. Keep going until there is no dough left!
  • When all the oliebollen are cooked, you can dust them with icing sugar. And then all that’s left to do is enjoy!
To finish we’ve compiled a few important tips for you:
  • Use lukewarm rather than cold milk
  • If you have oliebollen left over and want to store them, use an airtight container
  • Ensure the temperature remains constant when frying; 175-180 degrees Celsius is ideal
  • Avoid fluctuating temperature when the dough is rising. This can have a negative impact on the rise!
  • If you use raisins or currants, then don’t forget to soak them so they don’t absorb moisture from the oliebollen
  • Don’t fry too many balls at once, otherwise you risk them sticking together
  • Use fresh oil. It might sound a little excessive, but the right oil is essential for the taste
  • Get creative! If you want to conjure up some special oliebollen, you can add anything else you find tasty
  • Form the balls with an ice cream scoop to ensure they are nice and round

Essential items for perfect oliebollen

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