This is a traditional dish for New Year's Eve in Holland. My grandmother made really good ones. She used to start 'test-frying' in September ;-) She never passed on her recipe but I managed to get it right eventually. She used to have two large enamel pans on the gas heaters to rise them and every now and again dip in her finger to taste. Perfectly hygienic because they will be deep-fried, said my mum :-). She used double the recipe for each pan, so she spent a long time frying. Every ten minutes or so, one of us would sneak into the kitchen and fill the serving bowl again...
1Steep the raisins in enough beer to cover them, for 1 hour.
2Melt the butter in a large pan at very low heat (you need a large pan because the mixture will rise later ;-). Heat milk to lukewarm. Put butter in milk. Put egg in milk. Put yeast in milk. Add a pinch to half a teaspoon salt (to taste). Mix. Put in raisins (with beer and all).
3Add the flour. Mix in the flour and stir until smooth and elastic. Don't use a mixer, it will be a royal mess. I use a large wooden spoon. It should be more like bread dough then pancake mix.
4Cover the pan with a wet towel. Put in a warm place (near the heater or in the sun) to rise for 30-60 minutes. It should be about double the original amount now.
5Use the fryer or pour oil in a frying pan. You need at least half an inch in the pan. Heat the oil at mid to high heat (180 Celsius max). Use an ice-cream scoop (squeezer type) or sauce spoon and dip it in the hot oil (then the dough does not stick to it). Take one scoop and lower it gently into the oil (careful, don't get oil splashes on you!). Some of the balls turn by themselves when one side is done, some need a little push. It takes about 2-6 minutes for the balls to puff up and make a golden brown crust. Take the balls out of the oil and let them drip out in a bowl lined with kitchen paper to absorb any excess oil. Sprinkle with icing sugar. Enjoy!