Traditions can be weird. Especially those focused around New Years, it seems as everyone has a superstitious new year’s requirement. Smashing plates against friend’s front doors or eating exactly 12 grapes are a couple of traditions around the world. Or how about burning photographs shoved in a scarecrow at midnight? Yeah, not sure I can get behind those.
Food traditions are much tastier although still somewhat weird in meaning. For instance, these oliebollen. According to Wikipedia: They are said to have been first eaten by Germanic tribes in the Netherlands during the Yule, the period between December 26 and January 6 where such baked goods were used. The Germanic goddess Perchta, together with evil spirits, would fly through the mid-winter sky. To appease these spirits, food was offered, much of which contained deep-fried dough. It was said Perchta would try to cut open the bellies of all she came across, but because of the fat in the oliebollen, her sword would slide off the body of whoever ate them.
Um, gross. I know you are thinking – you want us to make these? Yes, because they have the same oil content as a regular donut and when was the last time you didn’t eat a donut because it was “too oily”. Yeah, never.
Besides these are healthy… ok fine, they have apples and raisins in them. Those are healthy right? I did give them an extra little kick by soaking the raisins in rum, but that’s splitting hairs.
These are very yeasty balls of dough – oh by the way, oilebollen literally translated from Dutch into English is ‘oily balls’. I know, I know, I really am not making a valid argument for you to make these. Ignore me! They are yummy! The outside is slightly crispy, the inside soft and doughy. That bite of raisin gives it a sweetness and change of pace. The apples actually become the part of the dough, they are harder to find unless you are looking for them, but you would certainly miss them if they weren’t there. They are a treat.
So I wanted to talk a little bit about my pictures. Tools? Gears? Yes, interesting right? I made these oliebollen at my parent’s house and had a stroke of genius to photograph them in my dad’s garage. He’s the reason the Dutch heritage is part of our holidays anyways so I figured it was appropriate. The vintage tools and car parts are normal for his garage and generally found anywhere you turn. I’m positive you won’t find raisins, flour or powdered sugar everywhere, so I didn’t really point out that I would be throwing them across his workbench until after the fact. I cleaned up – he was ok with it, so it was a success!
- 2/3 cup lukewarm milk + 1 tsp sugar
- 3 teaspoons yeast
- 1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour flour
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1 egg, lightly whisked
- ½ cup raisins
- 1/3 cup rum
- 1 apple, peeled and finely chopped
- Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- Oil for frying
- Mix raisins and rum in a small bowl. Let soak at least 15 minutes.
- Mix warm milk with sugar and add yeast in a small bowl. Stir briefly and leave to sit for 5 minutes.
- Put flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Combine then add milk mixture with egg, raisins, apple and lemon zest. Stir to combine then cover with a damp towel and leave to rest for one hour.
- Heat oil in a large deep pot. Scoop out pieces of dough about 1 tablespoon each, then fry in hot oil, for 1 minute until golden brown. Drain – they should be soft inside, crispy outside and not greasy. Dust in powdered sugar to serve.