|Doughnut or dumpling|
|Place of origin:|
|Flour, eggs, yeast, some salt, milk, baking powder; usually sultanas, currants, raisins; zest or succade|
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An oliebol (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈoːlibɔɫ], plural oliebollen pronunciation (help·info)) is a traditional Dutch and Belgian food. They are called oliebollen (literally oil balls) in the Netherlands, while in Belgium they are called smoutenbollen (literally lard balls although the real "smout" is of rapeseed oil) in Dutch and croustillons (loosely crispies) in French. In English they are more commonly known as Dutch Doughnuts or Dutchies.
Oliebollen are a variety of dumpling made by using an ice-scooper or two spoons to scoop a certain amount of dough and dropping the dough into a deep fryer filled with hot oil. In this way, a sphere-shaped oliebol emerges. Oliebollen are traditionally eaten on New Year's Eve and at funfairs. In wintertime, they are also sold in the street at mobile stalls.
The dough is made from flour, eggs, yeast, some salt, milk, baking powder and usually sultanas, currants, raisins and sometimes zest or succade. A notable variety is the appelbeignet which contains only a slice of apple, but different from oliebollen, the dough should not rise for at least an hour. Oliebollen are usually served with powdered sugar. In Flanders the "oliebol" is called "smoutenbol" where as the only difference is not baked in vegetable oil, but in animal fat. Another difference between the Dutch oliebol and the Flanders smoutenbol is that the smoutenbol is usually not filled in contrast to the Dutch oliebol. The filling of the oliebol could consist of raisins, currants and apple, other ingredients can be added, such as Succade, pieces of orange or whip cream.
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. It is also said that the oliebollen come from Portugal. It is suspected that the Portuguese Jews during the Spanish Inquisition fled to the Netherlands with their recipes. In Portugal at that time, there was already something similar to the oliebol: (dried) Southern Fruits.
From oliekoek to oliebol
For centuries the Dutch ate oliekoek ("oil cake"), an old name for oliebol. The Oliebollen you see in the painting from around 1652 are very similair to today's oliebol. At that time, they were baked in Lard or Raapolie. During the nineteenth century the word "oliebol" started to be used more. In 1868 Van Dale, a famous Dutch dictionary, put the word "oliebol" in its dictionary. But it was not a commonly used word yet said by "Woordenboek der Nederlandsche taal" (1896), which is another Dutch dictionary. In that dictionary they say that "oliekoek" is a more commonly used term, but then there was a major change and from the early twentieth century the word "oliekoek" was not used anymore and had been replaced by "oliebol".
A very similar type of oliebol can also be found in the Walloon part of Belgium, Brussels and northern France. Croustillons are deep fried dough balls served hot and liberally sprinkled with powdered sugar. They are usually served in a paper cone with a little plastic fork to eat them with. They are typically found at fairgrounds in Belgium and in Lille, France.
Since 1993 The Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad has been holding an annual highly publicized oliebollentest at the end of each year. Each year the panel tastes each participant's oliebol to then announce the winner. The winner can then call themselves the best baker for a year. In 2011 Richard Visser won this test for the eighth time in the 19th year the test was held. In 2012, the bakery of Willy Olink from Maarssen won the test and took the place of Richard Visser.
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