Ring in the new year with oliebollen!

In Recipes on January 2, 2022 at 1:08 am

My Oma and Opa migrated from the Netherlands in 1951, joining the thousands of other European migrants abandoning the continent after the devastation of WWII. To come to Australia they had to leave a lot behind, in those days migrants were supposed to ‘assimilate’ into Australian society, abandoning the culture and customs of their homeland, to become what was known then as ‘new Australians’. In more recent times, we have placed emphasis on new migrants retaining their cultural roots as much as possible, and this has created, especially in Melbourne, a genuinely rich multicultural society. But, to return to my Oma, like most migrants many of the traditions that she did retain from the Netherlands related to food, and one of the most important was to make oliebollen every New Year’s Eve for the whole extended family. I remember eating these ‘oil balls’ (not the most inspiring name I have to say), every new year throughout my childhood and adulthood, until sadly, we lost my Oma in 2003. I had all but forgotten about these delicious treats until this new year, when my aunt made a batch of bubbling oliebollen batter and cooked some up, ably assisted by my mother. Fresh from the deep fryer, tossed in icing sugar, like Proust with his madeleine, my first bite transported me back to my childhood and summer holidays spent with my Oma and Opa.



50g (1oz) fresh yeast or half as much dried yeast

175ml (6fl oz) lukewarm scalded milk

1 lemon

1 large cooking apple

50g (2oz) raisins

25g (1oz) mixed peel

225g (8oz) strong white flour

pinch salt

castor or icing sugar for dusting


Activate the yeast in some of the warm milk, adding a pinch of sugar if using dried yeast. Grate the peel of the lemon. Squeeze the lemon and grate the peeled apple into the juice. In a large bowl, add this, and the lemon rind to the yeast mixture along with all of the other ingredients, except the sugar, and mix well. Cover with a damp cloth and leave in a warm spot to rise until the mixture has doubled in size. Heat a neutral oil such as canola or peanut, in a deep fryer or in a saucepan. If not using a deep fryer, you can check if the oil is hot enough by inserting the handle of a wooden spoon into the oil, if the oil bubbles around the handle then the oil is hot enough. Using two oiled soup spoons, scoop out the mixture, trying to form it into a ball-like shape. Drop into the hot oil one at a time. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan as it will bring the temperature of the oil down and the oliebollen will stick together. When the olibollen are golden brown on one side, flip them over with a slotted spoon and brown the other side. Remove from the oil and drain well on kitchen paper. Dust with castor or icing sugar and eat as soon as they are cool enough to handle. Any leftover oliebollen can be stored in a sealed container and eaten the next day, but remember, they are at their best when eaten fresh out of the fryer.


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