There must be something in the human psyche that makes us want to celebrate the ending of another year by eating copious amounts of rich foods, and by stuffing ourselves with large quantities of sugar and butter, all doused in a consistent flow of adult and non-adult beverages. It's as if we were saying: "Well, I made it another year, you can't take THAT away from me!" while shaking a fat finger in the face of the inevitable.

New Year's Eve in Holland is a great example of mindset. What better way to ring in the New Year, we seem to think, than by eating deep-fried dough balls and batter coated apple slices?

Oliebollen (literally "balls of oil") and appelbeignets are a standard fare during the holiday season. The raisins and apples in the dough can hardly be considered a nutritional advantage, but it's one of those once-a-year treats that one looks forward to!

I love oliebollen but can only stomach about two. The usual amounts given in recipes are for 30 or more. Here's one that makes about eight oliebollen. Use peanut, soybean or sunflower oil in your fryer to fry these, not shortening. Oliebollen are good cold too, with a hot cup of coffee and some extra powdered sugar.

1/3 cup (50 gr) mixed dried fruits (raisins, currants) 
2 (7 gr) teaspoons active dry yeast 
1/2 cup (125 ml) milk, warm 
1 cup (150 gr) all purpose flour 
pinch of lemon zest
pinch of salt
1 egg
1 (10 gr) tablespoon butter, softened 

1 heaping tablespoon powdered sugar

Soak the dried fruits in some rum, orange juice or warm water several hours before, preferably the night prior to the frying. It's traditional to use currants and raisins, but fresh or dried apples, apricots, cherries are all very nice as well. Drain the fruits before you add them to the batter, and spread them out a bit so they can air-dry.

Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk. Mix the flour and the lemon zest, and stir in the milk and yeast mix. Add the salt, the egg and the butter 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.

In the meantime, heat the oil in the fryer up to 350F/175C. Place a plate with several paper towels to soak up the excess fat of the fried goods. Use a large spoon or an ice cream scoop (see suggestions below) to scoop out a portion, drop it into the hot oil and fry for about four minutes on each side or until brown. Dipping the scoop or spoon in the hot oil before each scoop will make it easier to drop the batter into the oil. It's important to gauge the temperature of your oil: too hot an oil will scorch the outside but leave the inside of the balls uncooked. A low temperature will not fry the balls fast enough and they will become "sinkers": oil-saturated and inedible.

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

Oliebollen on the left, appelbeignets on the right....
Happy New Year!

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  1. Hi Nicole! My name is Phyllis and I'm Leonie Sutherland's sister. I made these last night but have a few questions.

    You include butter in the ingredients, but I didn't see it used in the directions.

    Also, you say dissolve the yeast in the milk, then mix the flour, sugar and lemon zest in a different bowl. Then, did you mean to write "stir IN" the yeast/milk mixture into the flour?

    Lastly, about how many olibollen should you get out of this recipe? About a dozen? And is the batter a bit loose? I can't recall what my mom's batter looked like ... it's been years and years since I've made these! :-)

    Happy New Year!

    1. Hi Phyllis! I've added the instructions for the butter, it's stirred into the batter, thank you for pointing that out! The recipe yields about six oliebollen. If you let the batter rise twice, it'll develop some gluten and become stringy. Too wet to knead and too thick to pour: somewhere inbetween. Hope that helps.

  2. Hi Nicole,

    Thanks for the recipe. I'm not that much of a baker and usually order the oliebollen mix online. I forgot so I'm going to try with your recipe. Do you think I can just quadruple the amount to yields more oliebollen? Also, I usually bake them in peanut oil as this gets hotter than other kinds of oils. Happy New Year!

  3. Can't wait to make thse

  4. When we came to Canada in 1947 my mother tried to make them but they didn't come out the same as when we had them in Holland, it seems there is a difference in the flour here in Canada.

  5. Oops I didn't know the raisins needed to be soaked . My dad made these for many years but now I make them . I am sending a batch with my wife to her bible study meeting tonight at my families Dutch Reformed Church . In appreciation for many prayers and praises through the years . (Crossing my fingers now , unable to type anymore . Bye ) Gary John Schraa

  6. Gebruik je ongezoute of gezoute boter voor dit recept?

  7. Pascale, op 10 gram maakt dat niet zoveel uit, dus pak maar wat je hebt. Ikzelf gebruik gezouten boter. Je kunt altijd het beetje zout eerder in het recept achterwege laten.


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