Nothing says, “Happy New Year!” like balls. Amitrite? Everyone knows I like my balls (insert hilarious but innocent link here). Growing up, I asked one of my grandfathers what nationality we were. His reply was nothing short of insightful.
“You’re a mutt.” He replied and laughed and laughed.
What he didn’t know is this little girl was lost inside. What was I? I wasn’t blonde and didn’t like pickled herring all that much, so I must not be Norwegian. I wasn’t tall and didn’t swear like a farmer in the church parking lot so I must not be Dutch.
I was longing for something to hang on to for my native identity. In the meantime, this mutt picked up the special traditions of her closest friends and made them her own. Susie and the other Dutch kids in my school made oliebollen every New Year’s Day. The Norwegians stocked up on lefse every Christmas. Let’s just say I knew who and when to visit.
Is it a coincidence when I visit Wallingford district in Seattle I get lost and find myself in Ballard next to all the Scandinavian stores and bakeries on my way home every single time? I think not. It is my Viking soul calling me home.
Makes about 20 balls.
- 2 teaspoons yeast
- 1/4 cup lukewarm water
- 2 cups flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 cup milk
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup raisins
- 48 ounces canola or vegetable oil (for deep frying)
- 2 cups powdered sugar (for sprinkling)
Stir water & yeast together in a small bowl. Set aside.
Mix flour, sugar, and cinnamon together in a mixing bowl.
Place milk, egg & vanilla in medium bowl and whisk together until well beaten.
Pour yeast mixture into dry ingredients. Add about half of milk mixture to bowl as well. Combine. Add remaining milk mixture and combine until smooth – about 2 minutes. The dough should be very sticky.
Cover the bowl with a dishtowel and allow to rise in a warm place for about an hour. Once the dough has doubled, stir in the salt and raisins.
Heat the oil to 375°F a deep fryer. Do not start frying until the oil has preheated or you will end up with balls of oil. (Never mind that oliebollen actually means oil balls.)
Form balls of dough using a cookie scoop. Carefully dip scoop in oil to prevent sticking, scoop some dough, and drop carefully into hot oil one at a time. Be sure not to crowd too many in as it will cool the oil down and your balls will become oily. (I know. I know.) The oliebollen will sink to the bottom of the fryer and then float up to the top. Fry until golden brown on the first side for about 3 minutes, carefully flipping when required and frying another 3 minutes on the second side. Use tongs to remove the oliebollen from the hot oil and place them on a sheet pan covered with paper towels to drain the excess oil.
Sprinkle powdered sugar over oliebollen and serve warm.
I call this photo “MUST HAZ ALL DA SUGARZ”
When the Dutch made oliebollen, they were some of the first doughnuts on the planet. “My people” probably even brought them to America. You’re welcome.