Dutch Oliebollen, a deep-fried new years’ delicacy

The one bake both famous, and infamously, associated with the end of the year in English speaking culture is the fruitcake. The rich in dried fruit dense cake is known for its heavy load of calories as well as its unusual shelf life – especially when copiously drenched in booze. Although the booze is tempting, this story is about another year end tradition… other cultures have their own tasty traditions, and the one celebrated by the Dutch won’t ever be rather launched by trebuchet into fruitcake oblivion as there won’t be any leftovers! [1]

The last two balls of the fourth batch, a few minutes before Simon came in from the school bus.

A particularly yummy end of the year tradition, [2] Dutch oliebollen (literally, oily balls) are essentially a sweet and fruity deep fried dough. Probably all cultures, at some point or another, invented fried dough, in some way or shape, but I dare to bet the Dutch version is the only one consumed solely at years end. What the two do have in common is that both the English fruitcake and the Dutch oliebollen are a high caloric food, perfect for adding some extra padding in anticipation of meager, winter times.

It is not quite clear when the oliebol first appeared in Dutch baking. Perhaps the Batavi and Friesian cultures offered fried dough to their goddess Perchta, hoping excess grease would help deflect her sword from cutting? More mainstream, fifteenth century sources mention the consumption of linseed oil cakes at the court of the count of Holland. Or perhaps oliebollen are derived from a Jewish sweet fried dough, part of the traditional Jewish celebration Hannukah and introduced to the Netherlands in the sixteenth century by Sephardic Jews emigrating from Spain and Portugal.

What we do know for sure is that cakes fried in oil were already a thing in the middle ages. At the time, Christmas indicated the end of a fasting period which started November 11th, Saint Martins Day. The end of this fasting was celebrated with oily cakes, not only great tasting but also loaded with calories and fats. Quite useful, right before the cold and dark and nutritiously poor season. At the time these cakes were not just for the winter season. They could be eaten the whole year through, cheap and nourishing, especially for the poor or during sieges. Fresh food would be eaten or spoil quickly, but oily cakes could keep a house, keep or castle going. [3]

“Meid met oliebollen” (Maid with fried dough balls) by Aelbert Cuyp (1652)

As oil was expensive, deep frying was not a thing quite yet. Olykoeken or oily cakes would be pan-fried and thus flat, not bulbous as they are now. With better economic circumstances and increased trade [4] in the seventeenth century deep frying became a mainstream option. The 1668 cookbook ‘De Verstandige Kock of Sorghvuldige HuysHoudster‘ (The smart cook or careful housekeeper) lists a recipe for oily cakes that uses just about a liter and half of oil, and this extra space would allow the cakes to swell and become rounder. Similar can be seen in the painting “Meid met oliebollen” (Maid with fried dough balls) by Aelbert Cuyp (1652) which shows oily balls looking pretty close to our modern oliebollen. By the eighteenth century the cakes really turned into balls as shown by the recipe book De Volmaakte Hollandsche Keukenmeid (The perfect Dutch kitchenmaid) from 1746. Not only do the oliebollen float around freely in a deep kettle filled with copious oil, the dough is added by forming it between two tin spoons – just like I do every year.

A typical seasonal Oliebollenkraam, with lights, and a long, long line of expectant customers…

The oliebol as a specific new years tradition did not really start until the nineteenth century. And with the invention of cooking stoves – and modernly, electric deep fryers – the baking of these treats became much saver for the general public. Although, growing up, I remember many would purchase their dozen of oliebollen from seasonal street vendors instead of frying from scratch. And as a kid, it sure felt magical, peering up into these beautifully lit and mirrored palaces of deep fried dough and getting handed a steaming hot oliebol, copiously covered in powdered sugar, which in turn would copiously cover us kids too – magical memories, indeed… [5]

But… that is not where the story of the oliebol ends. Like much that is Dutch, the oliebol also emigrated to the american continent; New Amsterdam to be specific, and then went about to reinvent itself, again. But instead of becoming the big, round and fluffy dough balls we know today, over here the oily cakes lost their marbles! [6] Specifically, a circular hole was cut right through the center. I had heard it was to cut down on the possibility of an under cooked center but of course there are other, often much more colorful, explanations… Was it to stint on ingredients? Did the hole make the whole easier to digest? Did Captain Gregory, whose mum is credited with rebranding the oily cakes, use the hole to stick it to his ships wheel during rough weather?

The Willy wonka-like automaton use to make cider donuts by our local Littletree Orchards

Whatever the reason, from then on Dutch oily cakes became forever known as the American doughnut (courtesy of Captain Gregory’s mum – she’d put walnuts in the middle to help it bake throughout; a dough-nut). production was automated in the 1920’s by a Willy Wonka-like machine, [7] doughnuts became poster boy in the 1934 World’s Fair in Chicago as a prime example of “food to hit the Century of Progress.” And a 1937 popular song suggests you can live on coffee and doughnuts if you’re in love… I won’t comment on the latter, but I do know from experience coffee and donuts make for a great survival combination: many a day at Market I’ve had apple cider donuts for ‘lunch’! [8] Simon thinks it fantastic, me moving next door to the ‘donut people’ as they give away any leftover at market end, [9] especially to the vendor with the hungry teenager… but personally? I’d take a Dutch oliebol anytime! [10]

Happy new year!

Would you like to make your own oliebollen?
I uploaded a short youtube video with (dairy free) recipe of the last batch I made this past weekend. Enjoy!

Want to see how the donuts machine works? Click here; my market neighbors Littletree Orchard brings it out for special events.


[1] This would be in Manitou Springs, Colorado, which holds an annual fruitcake toss where unwanted loaves are bid adieu by medieval means—namely, catapults.
[2] I might be prejudiced as I am a Dutch native. Or perhaps not…
[3] Until their stores of flour and oil ran out, of course.
[4] Think Dutch Golden Age.
[5] Perhaps not for the mothers, having to deal with sugar covered kids (going by the memory of my mom’s disapproving face).
[6] You know, a donut hole, looks just like edible marbles.
[7] Very clever, and certainly attracted loads of intrigued customers.
[8] Perfect COVID lunch, quick to eat and mask back on!
[9] Which does not happen nearly as often as Simon had hoped.
[10] Well… anytime that is years’ end, of course!

Bring the kids to Ice Dragon for free; a new Kingdom initiative


Children 17 and under are now FREE to go to the Festival of the Passing of the Ice Dragon as a part of new initiative within the Kingdom!


Celebrate the turning of the seasons and the return of warmer winds with the whole family at Ice Dragon, in the Barony of the Rhydderich Hael on Saturday, March 26th, 2022.

Ice Dragon is also still accepting merchant applications!
Spots are filling up so please don’t delay.


Ice Dragon is a great opportunity to show your wares to a large crowd of shoppers. If you are interested in applying to merchant all the information you need can be found here.  Please contact Merchant Liaison, Magnus de Lyons (Lance Kazmark) with questions or concerns via email or the Book of Faces.


The doors will open at 8:30 am to all attendees and will close at the conclusion of Evening court. All attendees must be off site by 8:00 pm. Activities for the day will include the traditional Arts & Sciences Pentathlon, a hall of Merchants with a wide selection of items. Martial tournaments and activities for adults and youths. There will be a Quiet Room available for any attendees that need a break from the activities of the day. A children’s activity area will be available for unstructured play time and crafts, and a host of Bardic and other performing arts performances.




Adult Event Registration: $20

Adult Member Discount Registration: $15

17 and Under: FREE

Please visit the Ice Dragon website to register for event.

There is also a Facebook event page found here where additional event details can be found.

On the day of the event, please be sure to bring your proof of vaccination, State ID card, proof of membership, payment, and exact change.

Directions: Genesee Community College in Batavia, NY (1 College Rd, Batavia, NY 14020). Event will be in multiple buildings on campus including the main building and the Tech building. Additional locations on campus will be added potentially. General directions are to take I-90 East to Exit 48 Batavia continue NY 98 South / Oak Street to College in Batavia.

**PLEASE Remember that Event will be following current SCA policies regarding COVID protocol. Further information will be provided as the event gets closer and will be updated with any SCA policies related to Covid protocol**

Contact the Autocrat, Lady Thalia Papillon (email; snail mail: Vanessa Hayes, 268 Adam Street, Tonawanda, NY. 14150, phone: 540-649-4337)

New Society Chronicler


The Board of Directors is pleased to announce the appointment of Krystal Smith (Mistress Cecilia Blythe, OP) as Chronicler for the Society for Creative Anachronism.

Krystal Smith is an official court reporter in Circuit Court for the State of South Carolina and lives in Florence, South Carolina.

Mistress Cecilia Blythe lives in the Kingdom of Atlantia in the Barony of Hidden Mountain, where she has enjoyed playing in the SCA for over 20 years. She can be always found holding one or more offices at a time from the canton to kingdom level and previously served as a landed Baroness. She is very organized and enjoys paperwork and kumihimo.

The Society Chronicler is primarily responsible for overseeing the production of kingdom newsletters, local branch newsletters, and any other publications the Board may designate. In addition, they establish overall policies for publishing Society-sponsored events and branch-related papers at all levels. The Society Chronicler provides a source of publishing expertise and advice for the benefit of the Society. The appointment is a three-year term.

Comments are strongly encouraged and can be sent to:
SCA Inc.
Box 360789
Milpitas, CA 95036

You may also email sca-comments@lists.sca.org.

This announcement is an official informational release by the Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc. Permission is granted to reproduce this announcement in its entirety in newsletters, websites and electronic mailing lists.

Amendment to Society CovidSafe Policy


The Board of Directors of the Society for Creative Anachronism has announced a change to its CovidSafe policy.

Effective February 1:

Proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test shall not be required for children who are ineligible by virtue of their age. In addition to the normal sanctions process, anyone challenging event staff regarding the enforcement of this COVID policy shall be denied entry to or be immediately removed from the event.

The full announcement is available here.


From the Seneschal: Event Cancellation and Related

From the Kingdom Seneschal:

With a heavy heart I must announce that, in consultation with Duke Christopher, Deputy Kingdom Seneschal for Pandemics, and Their Majesties, we are canceling Debatable Lands 12th Night.

As I am sure you know and can see in the news, the Omicron variant is nearly everywhere in AEthelmearc. We have become too uncomfortable with the risk that a large, mostly inside event could become a super spreader event. I am sorry, this must be disappointing for many of you.

We have not yet canceled other events happening this month – His Grace is hoping that we see our numbers coming down soon. We will let you know if we have to cancel those as well. We are hoping to make those decisions at least a week in advance.

We also do think that the risk of smaller practices and gatherings are less risky (not no risk, but less risk) and are going to continue to let those continue to happen. Please continue to follow the COVIDSafe rules and AEthelmearc’s masking requirements (which can be summarized as everyone wears masks inside at all times, no exceptions for those over the age of 2, outdoors – vaccinated folks can go without masks).

Please be safe and take care at this time.


Twelfth Night Pies


By THFool Dagonell the Juggler

I made these for the last shire Twelfth Night I physically attended, two years ago this week. They were well received. This would make a good feast dish; combine, cook, serve. Serves 12. More of my recipe redactions may be found on my website.


Harleian ms. 279, “Dyed Bake Metis” (“Various Baked Dishes”) (Found in “Two Fifteenth Century Cookery Books”)

“Chawettys. Take Porke y-sode, & mencyd dates, and grynd hem smal to-gederys; take yolkys of Eyroun, & putte þer-to a gode hepe, & grene chese putte þer-to; & whan it ys smal y-now, take Gyngere, Canelle, & melle wyl þi commade þer-with, & put in þin cofyns; þan take yolkys of Eyroun hard y-sothe, and kerue hem in two, & ley a-boue, & bake hem; & so noyt y-closyd, serue forth.”


“Small pies. Take pork seethed & mined dates, and grind them small together; take yolks of eggs, & put thereto a good heap, & green cheese put thereto; & when it is small enough, take ginger, cinnamon, & mix well thy mixture therewith, & put in thine coffins (pie shells); then take yolks of eggs hard seethed, and carve them in two, & lay about, & bake them; & so not closed, serve forth.”


My wife and I “live country, live clean”. We have a huge chest freezer in our basement. We literally buy our beef by the half cow. I didn’t have any pork, but I have lots of ground beef. The recipe calls for small pies. I keep frozen pie shells to hand, so I made full size pies and increased the cooking time I would use for tarts. Professional food historian (now I know what I want to be when I grow up!) Cindy Renfrow speculates in “Take a Thousand Eggs or More” that green cheese was literally green cheese, what we now call blue cheese. (Wikipedia says, according to legend, blue cheese was discovered when a shepherd accidently left his cheese behind in a cave and found it again three months or so later.) If green cheese is actually blue cheese, I’m wondering if the moon being made of green cheese wasn’t simply a way to describe the color.


  • 3 lbs. ground beef
  • 1 cup minced dates
  • 12 eggs
  • 1/2 lb. blue cheese
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 commercial pie shells


Leave the pie shells and frozen beef in the fridge to thaw overnight. Pre-heat oven to 435*. Hard boil six eggs. In a large mixing bowl combine ground beef, minced dates, 6 egg yolks (reserve the whites for tomorrow’s breakfast), crumbled blue cheese, ginger, and cinnamon. Mix thoroughly. Scoop the mixture into two pie shells, pushing it down to fill the crust evenly. ‘So not closed’ means it’s an open face pie, like a quiche. Shell the hard-boiled eggs, cut them in two, and ‘lay about’ six half egg yolks in a circle on the top of each pie. Save the whites for tomorrow’s breakfast. For tarts, I would put one on each tart. Bake for 50 minutes. Let cool. May be eaten hot or cold.


Special Instruction Categories at the Ice Dragon A&S Pentathlon



Are you thinking of entering the Passing of the Ice Dragon Arts & Sciences Pentathlon? And perhaps in any of the following categories: Beverages, Culinary Arts, Curiosa or Performance Arts? Then you should be aware that these entries are handled a wee bit different as before the Plague, and now have their own deadline, too!

The Special Instruction Categories deadline is February 15, 2022

Beverages category: German Roggenbier or rye beer, entered in the Passing of the Ice Dragon, AS 51

As the Beverages, Culinary Arts and Curiosa categories have special preparation needs, especially this year, entrants are required to contact the Pent Coordinator before registering to make sure their entry can be processed. The Pent Coordinator is preparing a ‘double’ event – so to speak – to be prepared for the preferred in-person even but also to have a virtual option as a back up.

Assuming the event is in person, then judging will be on site. You would come in, register, and drop off / set up entries – business as usual. Similarly, Performance entries will be scheduled for the theater and times will be assigned when you sign in.

But, if we are not in person, then the Pent Coordinator will make every attempt to make connections between entrants and judges / judge groups to get materials from the entrants to the judges. This system worked adequately well last year, both at the Pent as well as with Kingdom Champs – but this will only work well with enough warning to make arrangements. For the Performing Arts, we’ll set up zoom performance venues (which seems so easy now, right?).

A double Culinary Arts entry: leavening or yeast cakes, and the Pompeii bread made with them, by Cristina inghean Ghriogair at the Passing of the Ice Dragon Pent AS52

More questions? Please check the Pent website or contact Pent Coordinator Cori.

We are all looking forward in anticipation to seeing what the artisans of our Sylvan Kingdom will share with us at this second year of the Plague Pent! I’ve already heard rumors of full pent entries in development… and will cross my fingers for an in-person event as I really want to peruse the tables and see the wondrous entries in 4K…uh, I meant, 3D – obviously!

– Elska



Event Announcement: Queen’s Rapier Championship of Juliana III


, , ,

Her Majesty Juliana calls those fencers in the kingdom to her home Shire of Misty Highlands to compete for the honor of standing as her champion.

All are invited to come join the galleries as our Kingdom’s fencers display their prowess and skill as the vie to stand with that honor!

The next Queen’s Rapier Championship will be hosted by the Shire of Misty Highlands on January 29, 2022 at Robert C. Byrd High School, 1 Eagle Way, Clarksburg, WV, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

This is a royal progress event

Entrants in a past Queen’s Rapier Tournament process before the Queen. Photo by Baroness Aine ny Allane.

. Site is dry, no flames are allowed. The site also is not wheelchair accessible and only service animals are allowed (no pets).

The autocrat for the day is Baron Arias Beltran del Valle. Contact him for any questions.

The site fee for the day is $10 for each gentle, and those 17 and under are welcome as guests of the Shire. Checks can be made payable at the door to SCA WV, Inc. – Shire of Misty Highlands.

QRC and the Shire of Misty Highlands will follow all SCA COVID guidelines in effect on the day of the event.

We look forward to welcoming all to our Shire once again!

See the event page on Facebook here and the official announcement here.

New Society Minister of Arts + Sciences


Meet your new Society Minister of Arts and Sciences, Magnifica Hildegard Bergerin, OL!

Magnifica Hildegard has been appointed to the Office by the Board of Directors for a term of 3 years.

For more information, please check out the details at SCA.org

People on the Move – New Society Minister of Arts & Sciences https://www.sca.org/…/people-on-the-move-new-society…/


Event Announcement: New Years Resolutions



Rapier melee. Photo by THLady Aaliz de Gant.

This is a PSA (Po Service Announcement) from Steel Therapy:

New Year’s Eve. You’ve stuffed yourself full. You’ve dealt with family and friends, partied (or drunk, or danced, read, napped, whatever) all the way to midnight, and then snogged anyone within range…

…and now, what you really need is to stab someone.. Or many someones… Luckily, there is an opportunity…

Donnan has a Party… Cyrus has an Academy… Po has … New Year’s Resolutions! “Fence MORE! More fencing is MORE FENCING!”

As has become the tradition, we’ll give the New Year 12 hours head start and then come after it, smiling with rapiers in hand! We’ll have space for fencing and/or rattan, and tables for camaraderie. I’m sure the Endless Voices will be singing in the corner somewhere. There will be time for tourneys and pickups, games and schmoozing, and who knows what else! (Steel Therapy, as always, is already conspiring tourney ideas…)

This is an open, sanctioned event. While there will be no charge, we’ll ask folks to help as we pass the hat.

Due to COVID restrictions, masks will be required. Please be prepared to show proof of vaccination or a negative test within 72 hours of event. We will not be doing a potluck but there will be multiple food options available in the mall adjoining.

We’ll be starting at noon on January 1, 2022 going through 8:00 pm at:

  • Ovation Theatre Performance Space in the old Sears building in the Wyoming Valley Mall
  • 29 Wyoming Valley Mall
  • Wilkes Barre, PA 18702

Autocrat for this event is Master Po Silvertop, email here.

See Facebook page here and official event announcement here.