South-Dutch Donuts

South-Dutch Donuts

Poefele and Nonnevotte.. Most Dutchies won’t even be able to tell you what these are. This is because they are a variety of the oliebollen I told you earlier about, but only eaten in the south of the Netherlands, Limburg. They are enjoyed during Carnaval, a Christian festival right before the start of lent. Nonnevotte literally means: Nun bums. That sounds hilarious in English too! Poefele are just puffy 🙂

I got this recipe from my dad, who used to make dozens of these each year and me and my brother used to help him.

Sadly he hasn’t baked in years, so I am picking up on the tradition.

Carnval is a Catholic holiday right before the start of lent. Traditionally carnival, Dutch: Carnaval or Vasteloavend, is celebrated from Sunday until Wednesday, with Ash Wednesday being the first day of lent. Since no one actually remembers what the carnival stands for, it is often celebrated from as early as Thursday night. The date of carnival depends on the date of Easter, as this is the end of lent. Carnival in modern times means celebration of life and the end of winter, with colourful parades, alcohol and candy. In the Christian calendar, Easter is celebrated on the first full moon in spring. Carnaval is 50 days prior to this date. People dress up in bright costumes, much like Halloween only without the scary part. The main colours of Carnaval are red, yellow and green.


Yields approx. 40 poefele(rolls) and 32 nonnevotte(knots)

  • 300mL milk
  • 200gr caster sugar
  • 14gr dry or 50gr fresh yeast
  • 1kg flour
  • 150gr butter
  • Cooking oil for frying (No fat!)

Start the dough by heating up the milk to a lukewarm temperature 37-46°C, you can do this in a small saucepan or microwaveable container. Don’t make it too hot, otherwise the yeast will die. Add the yeast and sugar to the milk, stir and set aside to activate the yeast. Sift the flour onto a clean work-space and create a crater, make sure it has a solid wall or you’ll end up with a sticky mess! Now, in this crater, add the milk-mixture, butter and the egg and mix thoroughly. Slowly start to mix in the flour bit by bit until it turns into dough. It might seem like the dough is too wet, but because of the amount of butter used it will remain very sticky. Shape the dough into a ball and let it rise in a bowl covered with a cloth for an hour.

Now you can choose! You can either divide the dough into two balls to make an equal amount of poefele and nonnevotte or you can choose your favorite and make a whole batch.

Poefele (rolls)

Roll out the dough until it’s about 1,5cm in thickness. Cut out rounds with either a glass or a cutter and place them on a clean kitchen towel. Dust with flour and cover with another clean towel, let it rise for another 30 minutes.

Nonnevotte (knots)

Make balls of about 60 each, so they will be nice and even. Roll each ball into a sausage shape and then twist it into a knot. Place them on a clean kitchen towel, dust with flour and cover with another clean towel. Let it rise for another 30 minutes.

Mine didn’t really rise, because the house is simply too cold. But don’t worry! They will double in size when fried.

Heat the cooking oil to 180°C, don’t use fat! The fat will solidify at low temperatures and leave a nasty coating, and thus a horrible feeling in your mouth.

Fry for about 3 minutes and turn them over after 1,5 minutes, if that doesn’t happen on its own. If your poefele can swim freely, they will turn over by themselves once one side is done. This happens because the dough side is heavier than the fried side!

If desired, the poefele and nonnevotte can be placed in a bowl of sugar while still hot, to cover them. Place on plenty of paper towels to soak up the excess oil. Serve with powdered sugar if not coated in sugar. My dad loves these cut in half with apricot jam in the middle.

Happy Baking!

1 thought on “South-Dutch Donuts”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.