Sue Housenga (left) and Joyce Tiesman deep fry oliebollen at the Windmill Cultural Center in Fulton, Ill., on Wednesday.

Natalie Conrad/Clinton Herald
Herald Staff Writer

Dozens of Fulton residents made their way to the Windmill Cultural Center on Wednesday to learn how to make a pastry that has ties to the town’s ancestors.

The Dutch pastry oliebollen was the topic of discussion for the second Wild Winter Wednesday program. with Joyce Tiesman and Sue Housenga presenting the history of the pastry and also demonstrating how to make it. The two made oliebollen for the city’s Dutch Days Festival for 25 years.

Oliebollen, which means fat balls or oil balls, is a traditional Dutch pastry that consists of balls of dough, deep fried and dipped in sugar and similar to doughnuts.

The dough is made from milk, eggs, flour, sugar, salt, lemon rind, cinnamon and yeast. After the dough is made, raisins are added. The mixture must then be placed near a warm area to rise for about an hour and a half. Tablespoons of the dough are then deep fried and rolled in sugar.

The pastries are traditionally eaten on New Year’s Eve or for special events or festivals.

Tiesman and Housenga were taught how to make the pastries by Dutch immigrants Patti Ritzema and Audrey Postma in the 1970s. The idea came when Tiesman and Housenga were members of the Ladies Auxillary Club. The ladies were working on ways to raise money for Fulton Community Christian School and Ritzema and Postma suggested they do something with Dutch heritage. That was the beginning of the big Dutch dinner and  Dutch Days in Fulton. They would serve the oliebollen at the morning coffee at the event. Later they added lunch to the event where they would serve leftover oliebollen from the morning.

Making oliebollen is a very lengthy process, according to Tiesman and Housenga. During Dutch Days the ladies would start with preparations the night before by getting all of their ingredients together. They would begin baking at 4 a.m. the morning of Dutch Days to start the yeast and make 12-14 batches, with each batch making 10-12 dozen. The two would continue their duties until about 3 p.m., including cleanup.

They used to make the oliebollen at the school and then transport it in a roaster in several carloads to the fire station for Dutch Days. Housenga said some people would line up to get pastries before they were even done making them. After a few years the state of Illinois stepped in and said they couldn’t continue to transport the oliebollen. The ladies made the oliebollen at the fire station from then on.

After 25 years of making the Dutch treat at the festival, Tiesman and Housenga stepped down. The Sweetheart Bakery in Clinton took on the lengthy task.

“It has been a lot of fun, but we have let the younger ones take over,” Tiesman said.

Tiesman says the bakery uses a slightly different recipe from the original.


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