09 November 2010

9 November - New Netherland

Today in 1674 was the last day of Dutch rule over their North American province of Nieuw Nederland.  By the Treaty of Westminster, the colony was ceded to the English, and on the 10th of November, the fortified settlement of New Orange (formerly New York, formerly New Amsterdam) was transferred to the English governor, Major Edmund Andros, and became, once again, New York.

Originally set up as a commercial venture to exploit the fur trade, permanent settlement of New Netherland started in 1624 with the arrival of 30 families, followed by 45 families the following year, who scattered to the outposts on the Delaware, Hudson, and Connecticut Rivers.  Growth was steady after that, but mismanagement and a lack of protection on the part of the ruling Dutch West India Company allowed incursions by native populations, the English colonists of New England to the east, and the Swedes of New Sweden to the south.  A surprise and unresisted attack by the English in 1664 transferred control of 'New York' to England, but in 1673 the Dutch recaptured 'New Netherland' as part of the second Anglo-Dutch War.  The war being ruinous to both combatants, a treaty was formed in 1674 which ceded 'New York' to the English again, leaving the South American colony of Suriname and the Caribbean islands of Tobago, Saba, St. Eustatius, and Tortola to Dutch control.

So let us celebrate the 50-year history of New Netherland with OLIE-KOEKEN, the precursors of what we now enjoy as doughnuts.

A 1668 Dutch recipe from the cookbook De Verstandige Kock starts as follows:

"Om oliekoecken te backen Neemt tot 2 pont tarwemeel 2 pont lange rosijnen (als die schoongewassen zijn, laetse in lauw water wat staen zwellen), een kop van de beste appelen (schilt die en snijtse in heel kleyne stucxkens, de klockhuysen wel uytgedaen), een vierendeel of anderhalf gepelde amandelen, een loot caneel, een vierendeel loots witte gember, een weynigh nagelen (dit wel ondereengestoten), een half kommeken gesmolten boter, een groote lepel gist en niet wel een pintje lauwe soetemelck, want het moet heel dick beslagen zijn, dat het beslagh noch tay om de lepel blijft..."

You can read the rest of the recipe, and the English translation here at The Food Timeline.   Meanwhile, try this recipe for Olykoeks:

This is a yeast bread, so make sure your ingredients are at room temperature.

Soften 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter.  Set aside.

Scald 1 cup of milk; let it cool to lukewarm.  Heat 1/4 cup of water to lukewarm (105 - 115 degrees F); sprinkle 3 packages of active dry yeast over the water.  Let stand for a few minutes, add a pinch of sugar, and then stir to dissolve. Set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together the softened butter and 3/4 cup of sugar until well mixed and creamy. Beat and add 3 eggs separately, i.e. beat one egg, add to sugar/butter, beat 2nd egg and add, beat 3rd egg and add, mixing well.  Stir in the milk/yeast mixture.

Sift together 4 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon of nutmeg, and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.  Stir the flour mixture into the milk/yeast/sugar/egg mixture, until mixture forms a dough.

Cover bowl and let dough rise in a warm place for about an hour. 

Heat 3-4 inches of oil to 350 degrees F.  The original olykoeks were fried in lard, and you can do that as well, or use canola or vegetable oil.  Use two tablespoons (soup spoons will do); scoop up dough, form into 1 to 2-inch balls, and carefully drop dough-ball into the hot fat (you will probably need to push the dough off one spoon with the aid of the other).

Allow to fry on one side for 3-4 minutes or until golden; turn it over and fry the other side.  I always fry one 'test' piece to make sure the oil is hot enough and the dough cooks through; after that, 4 - 6 dough-balls at a time depending on the size of the pan (don't over-crowd them).  When done, remove each ball with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.  While still warm (but cool enough to handle), roll each olykoek in powdered sugar.

If they last long enough, pile them on a plate.