Tuesday, 5th December 2023
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Lerato’s Guide To A New Year With Great Food: Dutch Puff Puff / ‘Oliebollen’

This time every year we reflect and plan as much as we eat and drink. It's a new year, a time of excitement and anxiety in equal measure. This time every year we reflect and plan; we reflects on our lives and plan for the future. What did I accomplish in the outgoing year and…

This time every year we reflect and plan as much as we eat and drink. It’s a new year, a time of excitement and anxiety in equal measure. This time every year we reflect and plan; we reflects on our lives and plan for the future.

What did I accomplish in the outgoing year and what would I like to let go of? What are my goals for the new year and how will I go about achieving them?

Humans that we are, we cannot escape our desires, hope and wishes, but we can direct them more positively. And what better way to push for a great new year than starting it with family, friends and great food!

Yes bring out the champagne for the new year toast, if you must, but my idea of great food is food for the soul; food that will remind you of past pleasures, evoke happy memories or food that just makes you smile because it is so delicious and exciting.

For some it’s oysters, or a juicy burger and for some people like in my family it’s chocolate. Lots of chocolate recipes to come in 2016.

One of my ultimate favourite snacks is the well known ‘puff puff’, a much loved Nigerian snack – a doughnut hybrid. I love it so much that once my mum ordered a batch from a woman who had fried them with peanut oil/groundnut oil (which I am allergy to) but that did not stop me. I ate them and smiled while doing so.

Puff puff became more special to me, when I discovered yet another similar recipe far away in the Netherlands. On a Christmas holiday many years ago now, my Dutch uncle and aunt took my brother and I to some typical Christmas markets in Cologne, Dusseldorf and Amsterdam. This was the real deal, authentic Christmas markets with open air stalls decorated with little angels and Christmas lights with people selling mulled wine, ginger bread, sizzling sausages and Lots of bakes treats. In Amsterdam I tastes the Oliebollen and I have been hooked ever since.

Oliebollen aka Dutch doughnuts aka oil balls are delicious fried dumplings made with flour, eggs, yeast, sugar, salt, milk with fillings such as raisins, currants or apples and a generous coating of powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar. These are typical Dutch snacks served during yuletide and to ring in the new year. Since I first tasted these delicious dumplings I have always associated my new year with them, because I am reminded of the Nigerian puff puff which I love and of the Christmas markets which are so festive and Christmassy; all rather sentimental to me.

I usually add chopped apples in my Olibollen mix because I am fond of cooked apples especially in bakes treats, but this time I used the Christmas pudding leftover my vegan brother in-law brought to Christmas dinner. It was rich and packed with orange and lemon peels and zests, currants, raisins, cinnamon, nutmeg; such wonderful flavours adequately suited to such a recipe’. Isn’t it rewarding using something that is already wonderful to create yet another wonder?

And so like the Oliebollen, so new and yet so familiar; this new year may we use our old experiences to shape up wonderful new beginnings.

Dutch Puff Puff / Oliebollen

photo 3 (1)


400g flour
21/2 tsp instant yeast
50g golden caster sugar
3 table spoons of cinnamon
2 eggs
450ml warm milk
1 tsp salt
5 tbs icing sugar
200g of raisins, currants or chopped apples
I used my brother inlaw’s Christmas pudding leftover
(A moist crumbly cake made with orange peels, lemon zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, raisins & currants)
Sunflower oil for deep frying

Yields up to 15 balls


photo 2 (1)

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sifted flour, yeast, salt and caster sugar, cinnamon and make a well in the middle of the bowl. Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl and pour into the well you have just made. Add the eggs as well as the yeast mixture. Pour half of the warm milk into the well and mix all ingredients thoroughly. Add the rest of the milk until your dough mix is smooth. 4. Once your dough has doubled in size, add the salt and fruits. Don’t be tempted to add the salt at this stage because it will interfere with the yeast growth.

2. Using a damp dish cloth, cover the bowl and keep in a warm area for about an hour. This is an important step to allow the yeast to rise properly. I tend to leave my dough to rise in my kitchen cupboard. Probably best not to put it under your bed.

3. If using dried raisins, soak them in hot water for 15 minutes and drain for plumper juicier fruit. You will be glad you didn’t forget this step when you are enjoying your treat. Once your dough has doubled in size, beat it down with a wooden spoon and add the salt and fruits.

4. Prepare your deep dryer or deep pan with enough oil for deep frying, which means a lot of oil. 1.5 litres of oil will be appropriate for this size of dough. Heat the oil slowly so that it doesn’t become to hot. Test the temperature by dropping a tiny scoop of dough. It should sizzle moderately and not violently. Adjust heat as needed.

5. Now this is the potentially messy part. Use two tablespoons; to form spherical balls and to scrape the dough into the oil. Be careful not to overcrowd the balls so that they cook properly. As one side browns turn the balls around to cook evenly. Don’t worry too much about perfectly shaping the balls. You won’t care when eating them.

6. Once cooked drain the Oliebollen on a plate covered with paper napkins. And now for the fun part; sieve the powdered sugar and remaining 2 tablespoons of cinnamon onto a dry plate and coat the Oliebollen heavily.

Serve these to your guests or to yourself as you ring in the new year! It is going to be full of wonderful surprises!

Happy 2016
Find more recipes and wonderful ideas on Instagram @lerato_tomato

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