This is the cake that we make for the New Year. The tradition started about 1500 years ago, and if you wish to read it so that I don’t take up more of your time here go to: The Tradition of the Vasilopita. We put a coin baked inside the vasilopita, and after greeting the New Year we cut it into slices. It is a sign of good luck for the person that finds the coin in his slice of the cake.
There is a ritual concerning the cutting of this cake. Usually the father cuts the cake after making the sign of the cross with the knife. The first piece is for Jesus, the second for Santa Claus, the third for the poor, the fourth for the house, the fifth for father, the next piece for mother and then one for each child of the family starting with the oldest and eventually a piece for every guest, from the oldest to the youngest.
The vasilopita is made everywhere in Greece, but it varies from region to region. It can be a cake, a sweet pie, a meat pie with fillo, or a kind of bread. But everywhere the vasilopita is round and has a coin inside it.
This particular Vasilopita is made with yeast and it goes great with a cup of coffee in the morning or in the afternoon.
Ingredients: 1,300 gr. flour 1 ½ cups butter or margarine melted 1 ½ cup sugar 1 cup milk 8 eggs Three sachets of instant yeast The zest of one lemon The zest of two oranges Juice of 1 – 2 oranges 1 teaspoon salt
Some blanched almonds Powdered sugar
In a large bowl put the flour, the sugar, the yeast, the zest of the lemon and the oranges and the salt. Mix the ingredients. Now put add the melted butter, the eggs beaten lightly, and some of the orange juice.
Mix the ingredients and start kneading the dough. If the dough seems too dry, you can add more orange juice. When the dough is nice and elastic, put it back in the bowl, cover it with shrink-wrap, cover it with a blanket and put it in a warm place for 2 – 3 hours to rise. Check it now and then to see if it has doubled in size.
When properly risen, knead the dough again for a couple of minutes and you put it in a buttered round baking pan. Fill it only halfway, because the dough must have room to rise again without spilling over the rim of the pan. Don’t forget to insert the coin wrapped in aluminum foil in the cake. After it has risen for the second time, you can decorate the surface of the cake with whole almonds if you wish.
After the dough has doubled in size, brush the top with egg-wash and bake at 180oC for about one hour.
Let the cake cool and you can dust it with powdered sugar.
Happy New Year to all of you!