“Oliebollen” are a traditional fried yeast dough dish from the low lands. Traditionally there are eaten by the Dutch on New Years Eve, also they’re being sold on fun fairs all across the Netherlands and Belgium.
Oliebollen are manufactured by using two spoons to drop an amount of batter in a pan with hot oil to form a sphere-shaped oliebol, you leave it in the pan untill it becomes brown.
The batter consists of flour, eggs, yeast, some salt and milk, sometimes beer is used instead of yeast since beer contains yeast. The batter should rise for around an hour, making the oliebol is a very light baked good. Most of the time oliebollen get eaten with powdered sugar.
There are several theories about the origin of the oliebol. This one in particular is referring to the Teutonic tribes in the area that is now known as the Netherlands. They would consume these baked goods at the “Joelfeest”, between December 26 and January 6. According to the Teutonic would he goddess Perchta and other evil spirits wander at night. To satisfy these spirits food was offered, most of them containing fried dough. Because of the fat the sword of Perchta would simply slide off the body. 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 also something similar to the oliebol. (dried) Southern Fruits.
From Oliekoek to Oliebol
For centuries the Dutch ate “oliekoek”, an old name for oliebol. The oliebollen back then are very similar to the oliebollen now. At that time, they were baked in Lard or “Raapolie”. During the nineteenth century the word “oliebol” started to be used momre. In 1868 Van Dale, a famous Dutch dictionairy, put the word “oliebol” in its 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but then there was a major change and from the early twentieth century the word “oliekoek” was not used anymore and had been replaced by “oliebol”.