Oliebollen or “Oil Balls” are Dutch apple doughnuts which are traditionally eaten at midnight on New Year’s Eve but are often found at oliebollenkraam (market stalls) in many Dutch cities from November onwards. The best oliebollen are the ones that aren’t oily, even though they are called “oil balls” in Dutch!

Many believe the Dutch introduced the “doughnut” to the US where they then took it further by introducing hundreds of fillings, flavours and toppings.

Surprisingly, there are no spices or extracts added to the oliebollen mixture. The apples and raisins give the oliebollen its unique flavour and as the sugar is only added at the end as a coating, this apple doughnut equivalent is perfectly balanced in flavour and sweetness. In fact, the Dutch say that the sugar sprinkling is believed to symbolise a sweet and everlasting life. That’s a great start to the new year, for sure!

Gluten-Free Oliebollen (Dutch Apple Doughnuts)

  • 250g store-bought or homemade gluten-free bread flour
  • 80ml milk, lukewarm (used for the yeast mixture)
  • 2 teaspoons dried yeast
  • ½ teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 180ml milk, lukewarm
  • 170g raisins
  • 1 green or red apple, peeled, cored and chopped in 2cm pieces
  • 1 small lemon piece (for soaking the apples in water)
  • 45g succade (lemon and orange candy peel pieces), chopped finely (optional)
  • Sunflower oil, for deep-frying
  • Icing sugar, for dusting

Step-by-Step Instructions
1. Add the lukewarm 80ml milk to a jug and stir in the yeast until dissolved.
2. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm place for 10 minutes.
3. Cut the apple in 2cm pieces and place in a bowl of cold water with a lemon piece. Set aside.
4. In a large bowl, mix the flour, xanthan gum, salt and the lukewarm 180ml milk with the eggs.
5. Add the yeast mixture, raisins, apple pieces and succade (optional). Mix well using a large spatula.
6. Cover with a damp cloth and rest in a warm place for 1 hour.

7. Heat oil in a deep pan to a temperature of 170°C/ 325°F.

8. Test to see if the oil is ready by first frying a small piece of oliebollen.

9. Using two spoons or a normal size ice-cream scoop, shape the dough into balls and drop them carefully into the hot oil, a few at a time so not to overcrowd the pan.

10. Deep-fry for approximately 4 minutes. The oliebollen will sink to the bottom of the pan and then return to the top, floating. Turn the oliebollen around several times to ensure all sides are golden.

11. Remove the oliebollen with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

12. Immediately dust the cooked oliebollen with icing sugar and continue frying the remaining balls.

13. Oliebollen can be eaten warm or cold. Dust a second round of icing sugar just before serving.

Makes: 12
Keeps: Best eaten on the same day

A modern touch is to add whipped cream or custard to the centre of each oliebollen. Use a piping bag and large nozzle to insert the filling easily.
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