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New Year’s Eve. You are at a party in The Netherlands, somewhere in Breda. Everybody is dressed in sparkly clothing and festive outfits. People are a bit drunk and then suddenly the host of the party walks in with a big serving plate with these weird beignet-things They are covered under powdered sugar and you thing you see raisins somewhere in there too. What in the world are those things? Well, let me tell you!

They are oliebollen and they are usually traditionally served during New Year’s Eve, but they are sold in typical Dutch Pastry Stalls that you sometimes see on the market or during carnivals in the summer. They can be described as Dutch Doughnuts, but they are so much better than just doughnuts! The origins of Oliebollen aren’t very clear, but the Dutch Centre for Folk Culture thinks that Oliebollen were first made in the Middle Ages. They also assume that the Oliebol was first created in a location what current Dutch ground is, or somewhere really close by. There is, however, a possibility that the Oliebol is a variation of a Portuguese/Sephardi Jewish dish; Sufganiyah.

Here is how you make Dutch oliebollen:

1 hour to prepare the batter, max of 25 minutes to make/fry the oliebollen (depending on how much oliebollen fit in your pan).

What you need for 20 oliebollen

500 ml room-temperature/lukewarm semi-skimmed milk

500 gr flour

1 bag of dried yeast (7gr)

4 tablespoons of light brown caster sugar

1 egg - Pinch of salt

1 bottle of sunflower oil (depending how much ml fits in the pan)

Optional: 150 gr raisins or 2 apples cut to pieces

The oliebollen

1. Start off by soaking the raisins in a bowl of water for 15 minutes. If you don’t include raisins, you can skip this part of course.

2. Mix the dried yeast, the milk and (all) the sugar together and let this sit for some minutes. There is no precise time set for this.

3. The flour needs to be sieved into a bowl. Then add a pinch of salt.

4. Slowly add the milk + yeast mixture to the flour and mix it together with special dough hooks until it becomes a sticky mixture. Then add the egg (and whip the raisins or apples to the batter).

When you have done this, you are going to cover the bowl with a damp tea towel and let it rise for 60 minutes. The size of the batter needs to increase twice its size.

5. Heat the sunflower oil at around 180 degrees C (or 350 degrees F) in a large, deep pan or frying pan.

To check the temperature of the oil, you can put the handle of a wooden spoon in the oil. If little bubbles start to form around the spoon, the oil has reached the right temperature!

6. With moist spoons, you can start to add the batter to the pan. After a couple of seconds of adding the batter to the oil, you can see the Oliebol growing in size and it will start to float to the surface. With a wooden spoon, you must turn them over a couple of times. You can also use a normal spoon of course.

7. After around 6 minutes, the Oliebollen are done and you can remove them from the pan! Let them drain on a paper towel and then you can place them on the serving plate.

Finally, sprinkle the Oliebollen with powdered/icing sugar and you are ready to serve the Oliebollen!

These are 5 tips on how you can make your Oliebollen better or how you can best save them for a later time.

1. Let the raisins soak in a bit of rum for an extra bit of flavour before you add them to the batter.

2. To let the batter rise for an hour, it is best to do that in a room temperature room. When it’s too hot, the batter will rise too fast and air bubbles will form. When it’s too cold in a room, the batter won’t rise enough and will be too soft.

3. When you want to use apples for your Oliebollen, you can best use Goudrenettes. They are firm and a bit sour. They give a fresh taste to them. These kinds of apples are available at almost every supermarket and at every market.

4. It is best to use two moist spoons for putting the batter into the pan. This is because the batter is very sticky and the moist spoons can help you a lot better.

5. How you save Oliebollen? They are best to eat within three days. After that, it is best to put them in a box in the freezer. However, don’t eat them anymore after two months, then they will lose most taste and because there is dried yeast used it might not be the save to eat anymore… If you eat them from the freezer, just get them, thaw them and you can heat them up in the oven for a couple of minutes.

Enjoy your oliebollen and happy New Year everyone!