Food & Drink

Recipe oliebollen (dough balls)

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Christmas and New Year's Eve in Holland is always a magical time of year. The country is usually covered under a thick blanket of snow and streets are decorated with Christmas trees and thousands of lights that add to the wonderful atmosphere. People hurry home to be with their loved ones, but not before stopping by one of the many oliebollenkramen. These colorful food stalls pop up on various street corners during this time of year and sell a variety of traditional, seasonal fried foods. People will often take home a bag of freshly fried oliebollen, and get a spare one to eat on the spot!

Oliebollen, literally translated as grease balls, are deep fried dough balls, studded with raisins and currants, and sweetened with a generous dusting of powdered sugar. It is traditional to serve oliebollen with coffee during this time of year.

Oliebollen are good cold too, with a hot cup of coffee and some extra powdered sugar. This recipe makes about six oliebollen.

Dough balls (oliebollen)

  • 125 grams (4.4 oz) flour
  • 75 ml milk,warm
  • 7 gram (0.25 oz) active dry yeast
  • 20 grams (0.7 oz) butter, softened
  • 15 grams (0.5 oz) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 20 grams (0.7 oz) raisins and currants or other dried fruits
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of powdered sugar

Soak the raisins in some rum or warm water several hours before, preferably the night prior to the frying. Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk. Mix the flour, sugar and the lemon zest, and stir the milk and yeast mix carefully. Add the egg and the salt and stir the batter for several minutes until everything is nicely blended. Stir in the drained raisins. Cover and let rise until it doubled its volume, stir down and let rise again.

In the meantime, heat the oil in the fryer up to 190°C (375F). Place a plate with several paper towels to soak up the excess fat of the fried goods. Stir the batter down. Now use a large spoon or an ice cream scoop to scoop out a portion, drop it into the hot oil and fry for about four minutes on each side or until brown. It's important to gauge the temperature of your oil: too hot and the oil will scorch the outside but leave the inside of the balls uncooked.

Drain the balls on paper towels, then transfer onto a new plate and sprinkle with powdered sugar.