Thursday, January 3, 2013

Oliebollen recipe

'Oliebollen' are little Dutch doughnuts that can be bought from stalls all over the Netherlands during the winter months. They come in two varieties - with or without added dried fruit. You'll be asked two key questions when you buy them - do you want it warmed up, and do you want icing sugar on it? I recommend saying yes to both, though be prepared for the mess. I usually get covered in icing sugar when I'm eating an oliebol, but it's worth it. And anyway, eating food in the street is rarely sophisticated, so give in to the experience!

Oliebollen are an important part of the New Years' Eve ritual in the Netherlands. They are the snack that keeps you going through the long night of alcohol and fireworks. For the event you can not only buy oliebollen in bulk from the stalls, but also from supermarkets (this is the only time they sell them). You can buy packet mixes to make them yourself at home, but if you want to go all the way and make them completely from scratch try this recipe. It's based on the one in my trusty classic Dutch cookbook 'Het Nieuwe Kookboek', but is slightly modified to contain a bit less fruit (I was advised on New Year's Eve that the original recipe maybe contained a bit too much). They're easy to make, but be warned... they are deep-fried.

Oliebollen recipe
(makes 12-15)

250ml milk
6g dried yeast (13g fresh)
250g plain flour
5g salt
30g currants
30g raisins
half an apple, peeled and finely chopped
(optional 20g candied peel, chopped)
oil for frying

1. Heat the milk until it is lukewarm.
2. In a mug, add the yeast to half of the milk, and mix thoroughly.
3. Add the salt to the flour in a large bowl and stir it through. Then make a well in the centre.
4. Add the yeast mix and the rest of the milk to the flour, and mix from the centre outwards, to make a smooth, wet dough. The dough should be quite thick and fall from a spoon in lumps.
5. Add the fruit to the dough and mix together.

6. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave in a moderately warm place to rise for about an hour. It should double in size.
7. Deep-drying: use a deep-fat frier or a medium saucepan 2/3 full of oil. Heat the oil to about 175 degrees centigrade, or until a small piece of bread crisps quickly in the hot oil.
8. Using two dessert-sized spoons form the dough into little balls (about 4-5cm wide) and add to the pan. Dip the spoons in the fat before making the balls - then they won't stick. Cook about 4 oliebollen at a time.
8. After about 3 minutes, turn the balls over to cook the other side. After another 2 minutes both sides should be nicely browned.

9. Remove olibollen from the pan and put on kitchen paper to soak up any excess fat.
10. Serve warm, dredged in icing sugar.