Oly Koek and Doughty Doughnut recipes | Sleepy Hollow

“Such heaped up platters of cakes of various and almost indescribable kinds, known only to experienced Dutch housewives! There was the doughty doughnut, the tender oly koek, and the crisp and crumbling cruller…”

-The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Washington Irving

What is an Oly Koek?

An oly koek is a deep-fried ball of dough in hot oil. Brought to America by the Dutch, they are the precursors to the dough-nut, which are also mentioned in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.


deep fried dough

The olykoek is the grandpa of the doughnut.

Some recipes in The Sensible Cook suggest that citrus, apples and/or almonds be mixed directly into the dough. However, in The Sensible Cook, a recipe found in Albany, New York provided an additional recipe for olykoek that folds raisins and dried citrus soaked in brandy, into the middle of the dough. I found this allowed for a more consistent cook through.


When did the olykoek become a doughnut?

Washington Irving captured the olykoek and the dough-nut in another of his books, A History of New York, from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty (1809). It captures the interchangeable use of the terms at the turn of the century. Whether the dough-nut at this time has a hole punched through the middle is unclear.

“Sometimes the table was graced with immense apple-pies, or saucers full of preserved peaches and pears; but it was always sure to boast of an enormous dish of balls of sweetened dough, fried in hog’s fat, and called dough-nuts, or oly koeks: a delicious kind of cake, at present scarce known in this city, excepting in genuine Dutch families.”


“doughty dough-nut”

The ‘doughty dough nut’ is also mentioned in Sleepy Hollow. To simplify the baking process, we used the same dough, created a ball without the filling and punched a hole through the centre with our finger before frying.


How to make olykoeks and doughnuts

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Oly Koek and Doughty Doughnut recipes

  • Author: Bryton Taylor; Food in Literature
  • Total Time: 3 mins
  • Yield: 18 1x


Units Scale
  • 1 cup mixed dried fruit (raisins and citrus)
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 1.5 packages of dry yeast
  • 1/8 cup warm water
  • pinch of sugar
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 egg white, beaten
  • 5 cups plain flour
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1.5 L vegetable oil for frying


  1. Start by preparing the mixed dried fruit the night before by soaking it in the brandy.
  2. The day of, in a bowl of the warm water, sprinkle the yeast, stir and cover in a warm spot. meanwhile warm together the milk and butter, then mix in with the eggs, sugar and nutmeg.
  3. Stir in the yeast, then begin mixing in the flour, a cup at a time until you reach the consistency of a soft dough.
  4. Cover and set aside in a warm place to rise for an hour.
  5. Meanwhile, drain the fruits from the brandy. Tear off an egg-sized piece of the dough, create a well in the middle, fill with the fruits and close the dough back up.
  6. Create all the balls first before frying. Deep fry one or two at a time until golden before removing.


Use a sugar thermometer. The oil temperature should 170-175C, but no hotter than 180C, as the dough on the outside with cook too fast, leaving the inside uncooked.
Don’t use plastic when removing the dough from the oil. Use a wooden or metal ladle with slots or holes.
The doughnuts and olykoeks can be served hot or cold and should be dusted with icing sugar for flavour.

  • Cook Time: 3 mins

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