Happy New Year to My Food Trail readers! Welcome to our first post for 2016, I’ve been incredibly busy already, but I’ve got so much to share with you. Where do I start!?
Let’s start with Christmas. I’ve always wanted to make my own bacon, and after overdosing on brisket in American BBQ Nirvana (Texas) over Summer, I was convinced Santa would bring me a Smoker. As circumstances would have it however, I ended up splurging our savings on a brand new TM5 Thermomix! Not quite a bacon maker, but known as “The World’s Smallest, Smartest Kitchen”, and it has opened my world into endless food producing possibilities.
But I have a confession to make. Until recently, I was skeptical, even anti-Thermomix. I felt this machine was taking away the “art of cooking”, where people could make anything at the press of a button, completely skipping the process of learning the fundamentals and putting love into cooking a dish.
My view changed over time, once I realised how much more you could do in the kitchen with a Thermomix. Things like:
- Making precisely heated and smooth lemon curd (This is important because my wife LOVES lemon curd. Happy wife, happy life. I can also use lemon curd to bribe her hehe)
- Freshly milling rice flour from rice grains or blitzing sugar into icing sugar. Instantly, I can reduce the 10 or so different sugars in my pantry by a third. Strangely, clearing the overcrowded pantry also makes wifey happy…
- Stirring my risotto and kneading my bread while I do other more important things like checking Instagram…(wife not so happy)
Seeing the potential that a Thermomix could help me bang out a dish I’d made many times before, but in record time, I took the Thermomix leap and didn’t look back.
Thermomix Vs Man – Oliebollen Dutch Donuts
The first big test I put my Thermomix through was a head-to-head Iron Chef battle against my father-in-law, Rob. Rob is a proud Dutch-Australian and amongst his many talents, he has become legendary for his Dutch donuts. Dutch donuts are known as oliebollen, or translated from Dutch as “oily balls”. These balls are made from a batter consisting of flour, eggs, sugar, yeast and milk, then deep fried in hot oil. Usually they are loaded with dried fruits or apples, and even a few swigs of beer in place of the yeast.
Legend has it that a Germanic goddess called Perchta, flew around Holland during the twelve days of Christmas, looking for food. Perchta would slit open the belly of anyone she could find and steal the food in their belly. If you had eaten oliebollen however, the “oily balls” would protect your stomach, and make Perchta’s sword slide off your belly.
Not that I needed another reason to eat oliebollen. The first time I tried oliebollen was at a small food stall in Salamanca Market while holidaying in Hobart several years ago. I curiously bought one, and remember the sweet crunch followed by a fluffy centre with moist sultanas. It was a simple, yet satisfying ball of dough. I didn’t get to encounter that oliebollen feeling again (they are surprisingly hard to find in Melbourne), until I discovered my in-laws made them around New Years, a Dutch tradition they subscribe to every year.
So it was for years, I would ask (or some might say, beg) to help my father-in-law make his famous oliebollen. I never managed to hustle my way in to this secret oliebollen making ceremony. Until recently.
What I discovered in the process was how seriously the Dutch take their oliebollen. Every year around Christmas time in Holland, one of the national daily newspapers, the Algemeen Dagblad, run a competition to find Holland’s best oliebollen. The AD Oliebollentest competition is in it’s 23rd year, and holds high prestige, with the 2015 winners, Master Bakers Cees Weeda and Arnold Kabbedijk, claiming “this is a baker’s best prize.” Their winning bakery, Meesterbakker Voskamp, also won the coveted award in 2010, which quadrupled their sales. In the lead up to New Year, they were able to sell up to 12,500 oliebollen an hour, and almost half a million oliebollen in total during the Christmas/New Year season. Like I said, serious business.
In comparison, Rob and I worked our backsides off over several hours, making and selling over 400 oliebollen for a Christmas carols event. And that’s not including that one’s I ate! I ate so many oliebollen I literally lost count. We were exhausted but it was an amazing day!
The day started with helping Rob prepare the mixture. I hear some Dutch families keep their oliebollen recipe physically locked in a safe, and while Rob doesn’t, I’m sworn to secrecy. However, I can share a behind the scenes view of Rob’s secret process, and there is an oliebollen recipe I used in the Thermomix below too.
The Oliebollen Dutch Donut process
STEP 1 – Rob prepares his secret flour mix, a combination of flour, yeast, salt and sugar, mixing them together by hand in giant tub.
STEP 2 – Rob then adds the wet ingredients, milk and eggs. He hand mixes the dough until he reaches the consistency where there are no flour clumps
STEP 3 – Rob uses raisins and currents in his standard oliebollen mix, adding them as the final step
STEP 4 – The oliebollen mix is transferred into a bin, covered, then left in a warm spot to rise. Over the next 1-2 hours, depending on temperature, the oliebollen mix should more than double in size
STEP 5 – Deep fry the oliebollen in hot oil and remove when golden brown.
STEP 6 – Dust the oliebollen with a generous serving of icing sugar and serve
After a random poll of 10 people, 80% loved Rob’s hand made oliebollen. MAN wins!
Recipe – Thermomix Oliebollen
Adapted from Devil of a cookbook by Fiona Hoskin
- 60g sugar plus extra to dust (Mill 4 sec @speed 9)
- 1 medium size Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and quartered (Chop 5 sec @speed 4)
- 2 sachets dried yeast (14g)
- 130g water
- 450g plain flour
- Pinch sea salt
- 250g full cream milk
- 2 eggs
- 100g currants
- 30g raisins
- Vegetable oil to deep fry
- Ground cinnamon to dust doughnuts
- Mix yeast and water together in the Thermomix, 2 minutes, 37 degrees @speed 2
- Add the flour, salt, milk, eggs and sugar into the mixing bowl, then knead for 1.5 minutes
- Add currants, raisins and apple, stirring for 20 secs, reverse, speed 2 until combined
- Pour the mix into a glass bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise in a warm spot until doubled in size (approx 1-2 hours)
- Heat oil to approximately 150 – 160 degrees, and deep fry the oliebollen until golden
- Generously dust the oliebollen with cinnamon and sugar. Serve immediately
Much more to come on my new toy in future posts.
Until next time, happy eating, Brando