December is actually my favourite month in The Netherlands. The Dutch do christmas very well, restaurants, bars and shops are all adorned with real christmas decorations, fresh wreaths, holly and pine tree garlands draped luxuriously, the golden glow of light peaking through the tiny dutch windows, punctuating the very long and very cold nights. It really is gezellig. You wander around the miraculously tasteful christmas markets clutching a mug of gluhwein or oliebollen bought only ever from small temporary kiosks, then duck into a tiny bar to pass the evening.
Oliebol literally translates to oil ball, lest there be any confusion that this is health food! Legend has it they were first easten by Germanic tribes in The Netherlands during Yule, the time between the 26th december and the 6th January. There is some tale about a german goddess cruising about during this time and slitting the bellys of anyone she saw (nice lass it turns out). However, if the person has eaten what I can only imagine would have to be a fair few oliebollen, her sword would slide right off their belly on account of the fat (Ha! Fantastic!) So dont say you havnt been warned, fail to eat these at your own risk!
1x 7gram sachet of instant yeast
4 tbsp caster sugar
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1 1/2 cups plain flour
pinch of salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup raisins or currants (or any dried fruit you like, cranberrys also work well)
1 apple, grated (with skin on)
Vegetable oil for frying
Icing sugar to serve
Mix the warm water, sugar and yeast in a small bowl and set aside for 10 minutes or until the surface is covered with foamy froth.
In a larger bowl mix together the flour and salt.
Make a well in the flour and pour in the yeast mixture and all the remainding ingredients. Mix until combined.
Cover with a teatowel and leave in a warm place for an hour or so, or until doubled in size.
In a large saucepan pour enough vegetable oil to reach 1 1/2 inchs in depth. Heat oil until around 160 deg C (320 F), or until a tiny drop of the batter turns golden brown under a minute.
Using 2 tablespoons or an icecream scoop, scoop out 1 tablespoon of dough at a time (the dough naturally becomes pretty spherical when cooked so dont worry too much about perfect scoops as the dough is sticky), and drop into the hot oil, turning the dough over after a minute or so, until entire surface is golden brown, a total of 4-6 minutes. Repeat until all dough is used up.
Toss in icing sugar and serve.