Sunday, January 06, 2008


Little oily balls.

Direct translation. Not so appetizing in the midst of our current anti-fat bigotry.

Fruit doughnut? Only a little better.

Apple Fritter, suggests the MacGear.

And I accept it as descriptive and inviting. For a translation.

But Oliebollen is the name as this is the progenitor of all doughnuts: A yeast raised sweet dough, filled with fruit, and deep fried, traditionally eaten in the Netherlands at New Years since the late sixteenth century. Approximately guessed.

For certain it attracted the notice of that famed historian Diedrich Knickerbocker who describes a a high tea among the Dutch settlers in the Hudson valley as including:

Sometimes the table was graced with immense apple-pies, or saucers full of preserved peaches and pears; but it was always sure to boast an enormous dish of balls of sweetened dough, fried in hog's fat, and called doughnuts, or olykoeks—a delicious kind of cake, at present scarce known in this city, except in genuine Dutch families.
-- Washington Irving, Hist of New York,
Chapter III

Thus Oliebollen are as native to this country as the Dutch farmers and merchants who built Wall street.

The Congressional Club Cookbook of 1927 is the earliest recipe I have. My transcription (possibly not verbatim)

13 oz flour7oz currants
1/2 pint milk4 oz raisins
3 eggs1 1/2 oz citron chopped fine
1 1/2 oz yeast1-2 sour apples chopped fine
2 oz butter
Mix above in bowl. Stir well. Let stand 30 minutes. Drop by spoonfuls into hot oil. Cook slowly until brown.
-- Mrs. Jacob Steketer

But, as with any traditional dish there are many variants' only one of which will be acceptable to the one who grew up with a particular recipe. The rest may pick and choose and use the result as a springboard to their own version.

For your browsing pleasure we offer a round half dozen out of the myriad your search engine will find:

  • Oliebollen
  • Oliebollen (Dutch Doughnuts)
  • Oliebollen
  • International Recipes: Oliebollen
  • Oliebollen -- New Year's Eve Doughnuts
  • Recipe for Cooking Olie Bollen

  • Although essentially the same in the main ingredients, variation appears in the fruit used, how it is incorporated with the dough and the consistency of the dough which may be a batter or a soft, but moldable dough, or any likely point between. In some recipes the dough wraps around the filling rather like Bao. This requires dough to work. If the fruit is mixed in with the flour and liquid, then a batter consistency is good, though the dough still works.

    Dum Luk's, but of course, does it other.

    Dum Luk's Oliebollen
    1 cup starter (or yeast)3 eggs
    1 cup cream2 tbl Butter, melted
    1 cup Flournutmeg
    1 tart apple grated1/2 cup filberts,chop fine
    Mix all of the above, except sugar, in a bowl. Adjust flour until you have a good batter. Deep fry in your Christmas goose schmaltz, or lard, at 350of (180oc) until brown. Turn halfway through. Drain and cool slightly. Then roll the oliebollen in sugar. Powdered or granular as you wish.

    Goed Niewe Jaar!

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    1. My dad used to make cake donuts covered with cinnamon sugar every Halloween. I looked forward to the hot donuts each year as much as I did the candy haul.

    2. They leave Powder Milk biscuits in the dust, don't they just?