Marco and I made oliebollen a few days ago. It’s a donut-like snack that you fry in oil and then cover in powdered sugar.
Of course, purists would say that donuts took their inspiration from oliebollen, not the other way around.
I also purchased some apple beignets from the oliebollen stand at the Grote Markt yesterday. New Year’s Eve is the busiest time of the season for oliebollen stands; this particular one opens at 06:00 on New Year’s Eve.
I was recently at Albert Heijn doing some grocery shopping. I swear, you almost don’t need a calendar when you walk in there — you can easily tell it is after 5 December (Sinterklaas) because the first ingredients for making oliebollen (a donut-like treat frequently eaten on New Year’s Eve) have started to appear.
At the top of the display you have powdered sugar in the blue and white cans, oliebollen mix in the middle in the yellow and orange boxes, and whipped cream on the far right. Although they haven’t quite set up the tower of sugary goodness that they had last year. Yet.
I am also happy to report that my favorite Christmas cookies are back at Albert Heijn. I picked up a pack for home and a pack for my coworkers the first day they were stocked. It’s a nice large Christmas cookie (in the shape of a wreath) dipped in dark chocolate and covered in red and green sprinkles.
You know it is (almost) November when you see the oliebollen (English Wikipedia) stand pop up in the last few days of October, a sign of yummy things to come. Oliebollen are a donut-like treat that is popular this time of year. They are eaten en masse on New Year’s Eve. Marco and I usually make oliebollen every year. These days the stands are allowed to open from 1 November until the end of January.
As you can see they still have their preferred spot at the end of the Grote Markt street. They used to be closer to city hall but moved to this spot when construction for the Amare cultural centre started some years ago. Speaking of Amare–apparently the building will be getting a Spar grocery store (indebuurt.nl, in Dutch).
I did forget to post a picture of the oliebollen Marco and I made yesterday. Opps!
In the foreground is krentebollen (oliebollen with raisins) and in the background, just barely visible, is oliebollen (no raisins). I am a fan of the no-raisins variant, partially because raisins make everything sweeter. And I want to save my extra sweetness levels for a bit of powdered sugar. Although in the last few years or so I have realized that cinnamon sugar – just barely pictured in the background – is even better than powdered sugar. Although perhaps that opinion makes me a bit of a heretic…
Outside it is fairly quiet although I do hear the occasional boom from fireworks off in the distance. That is slightly surprising, since fireworks have been banned for the last two years thanks to corona. Even these fireworks have been illegally stored in people’s basements or they made the trip to Germany or Belgium to purchase fireworks. Hmmm.
Marco and I made oliebollen tonight (Wikipedia). Or, more accurately, Marco made oliebollen and I helped/looked cute/cleaned things occasionally. Now that we have a bit of experience, we’re definitely getting better and faster at making them. The longest wait is letting the raisins soak for 15 minutes and then letting the oliebollen dough rise for 45 minutes. You then fry them at around 190C/375F for about 3-4 minutes each.
This batch of oliebollen is for tomorrow evening’s New Year’s Eve festivities. I will also stop by the Grote Markt oliebollen stand (official website) while I am in the city centre to pick up a few apple beignets.
Speaking of oliebollen… Koopmans (a major distributor of boxes of oliebollen mix) forgot to put yeast into a small percentage of their boxes. Opps?
It’s not harmful, but the mix won’t rise at all, meaning your oliebollen will be more like bricks then fluffy donuts. It’s a bit of bad timing on their part as everyone and their mother bakes oliebollen around New Year’s Eve.
The funniest part? The affected products have a production code of L212447 and a timestamp between 02:30 and 05:00. Yeah, I wouldn’t be awake at that time of the day either, so it makes sense that someone forgot to press the button to add the yeast in…
Earlier this month I had mentioned that oliebollen stands started appearing on 1 October, the first day they were allowed to do so. Marco finally gave in today (16 October) and purchased an oliebol for me and a krentenbol for himself, aka an oliebol with raisins. It still annoys Marco that the names changed over the years. It used to be that if you ordered an oliebol you would get a doughnut-like thing with raisins. If you wanted the version without raisins you had to say “oliebol without raisins”. Oh well…
Of course I had already taken a few bites when I remembered that I wanted to take a photo for a blog post, so I had to strategically position it so that you couldn’t really tell that about 15% was missing…
Marco and I either make our oliebollen ourselves or we order it from Vermolen in the city centre. I found this article about the 2021 situation (in Dutch from ad.nl): Oliebollen van Vermolen toch op Grote Marktstraat, gemeente verandert van gedachte. Quick summary: this oliebollen stand was always found at the Spui. However, for the last three years the stand was moved to the end of Grote Markt, about 100-150 meters away but much closer to the crowds of shoppers. It was moved due to the ongoing construction at the Spui for the Amare building. Officially the construction is complete and the Amare building is open, but things are still in a bit of flux in the area. The owner of the oliebollen stand first heard last week that he had to move back to his old location this year, but after a bit of campaigning at city hall (a lot of the politicians stop by for his oliebollen) he heard that he was indeed able to open at the Grote Marktstraat this year. Next year is still up for debate – he might need to move back to the Spui then.
Last year it was a huge decision to let the oliebollen stands open a month earlier, on 1 October, due to missed income (no festivals were being held, etc.). This year they also opened a month earlier, from yesterday. But this was more of a surprise as it wasn’t splashed everywhere on the news. The stands are usually allowed to be open between 1 November and mid-to-late January as oliebollen is a treat for Christmas and New Years.
But it is good news to see that the stand is back in the city centre, at the end of the Grote Markt shopping street (across from the public library). And perhaps they will be allowed to stay here; they moved to this spot some years back due to the construction around the Amare building. But construction of the Amare building is complete (previous blog post) so that is a good sign for the oliebollen stand.
Tomorrow (Sunday) is the last day you can buy oliebollen and krentebollen (=oliebollen with raisins) from the oliebollen stand at the end of the Grote Marktstraat next to the Blokker and Xenos stores.
This is our Marco, Roger and I’s favorite place to get oliebollen and apple beignets. Usually they close every year by 15 January, however this year the city granted them a permit extension through the end of January. They were also able to open a month earlier due to most carnivals not being able to open during 2020 (the same was true for all oliebollen stands in the area).
As you can see the top is covered in Nutella (English Wikipedia) and chocolate shavings. The inside of the oliebol is also filled with Nutella, because it can never be sweet enough. And it was delicious! The dangerous kind of delicious that makes you want to buy one every week…
However, it was sweet enough that I decided to save half of it for tomorrow evening. Otherwise I’ll be bouncing off the walls in no time.
Random article of the day: Anger over NS plan to remove conductor whistle from nltimes.nl. It is not quite what it sounds like. Each train has a conductor who checks to make sure that all passengers have entered the train. When it is time to leave the conductor blows their whistle and passengers (in theory) do not try to enter or exit the train after that moment. The NS (the largest Dutch train company) plans to use cameras instead to watch the doors. They say this will make trains more punctual however the union sees that as an easy way to get rid of the conductor’s job altogether.