IMG_1747A belated Happy New Year to everyone and health and happiness in 2014!

As the New Year rolls over, Greek families all over the world will share the tradition of cutting the Vasilopita, our Greek New Year’s cake. January 1st is the name day (saint’s day) of Aghios Vassilis (St. Basil), the Greek Santa Claus, and the cake is named in his honor. While Christmas is a more solemn occasion, January 1st is filled with celebrations and the exchange of gifts.

However it’s fixed, cutting the Vasilopita is a celebration of wishes for the new year.

Each Vasilopita is baked with a coin or medallion hidden inside which, according to tradition, will bring great good fortune in the new year to the person who gets it, so the cutting is all-important and the focus of great scrutiny! Traditionally, pieces are cut ceremoniously by the head of the household and allocated to the church (Holy Trinity and Virgin Mary), then the head of the household (male), his wife, their children (oldest to youngest), other family members by degree of relatedness, then guests.IMG_1657


1 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar

3 cups all purpose flour

pinch of salt
6 large eggs (whites & yolks separated)

1  shot of orange liqueur
1  Tbsp. of baking powder

zest of 1 orange

10inch round spring form pan

Pre-heated 350F oven


  1. Whip your egg whites into a meringue and reserve. In a large bowl, use a mixer to blend the butter, sugar and add yolks, one at a time.
  2. Add the liqueur and the zest then add the flour, salt and baking powder. Slowly fold the meringue into the batter.
  3. Place a foil-wrapped coin randomly into the cake mix.
  4. Bake on the middle rack for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool on a rack for an hour.
  5. Make a paper stencil of the new year you’re celebrating, place it on the cake and dust the top of the cake with icing sugar. Remove stencil and reserve to cut at New Year’s.

© 2014,
Peter Minakis

. All rights reserved.

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16 Comments for “Vasilopita”



Happy New Year again Peter! Could not resist telling you how cool that cake is! What a great Greek tradition! You are so clever!



I love these traditions, in our house the first person through the door has to be a dark haired man carrying something to eat and something to keep you warm – it blesses the house apparently. I think it is a british or Scottish tradition?

What i am wondering is do you wrap the coin in something?

Gato Azul


Ayayayayaye… every time I visit, Peter, I get hungry! Please keep on pleasing our eyes and palates during the coming year! Many blessings to you and your family in 2008.



You have so many wonderful Greek traditions and I just love reading about the background to so many of your Greek recipes! I just had to stop by and wish you a Happy New Years! Here is to a warm oven and happy hearts and tummies=D
Shandy@Pastry Heaven



I really enjoy seeing all the different variations of all the Greek recipes you post here, and this one is no exception! My mother usually uses whole almonds to shape the year on the top of the cake, but icing sugar would remind me of kourambiedes- which is always a good thing!

Xronia Polla!



How fun!! We have same tradition here in Catalunya but the 6th of January that’s when the 3 kings come and leave presents for the kids. That day we buy (there’s no tradition cooking it) a cake that has a little figure inside (it’s said it brings luck) and a bean. The one who gets the bean has to pay the cake!!!!!!


Hi Peter, Hronia Polla and and fabulous new year ahead. Thank you for all your great recipes, all the ones I have made have turned out especially your tsoureki recipe.( I know it’s new year but I had to mention it) Keep up the the good work and all the best from Australia!!!

Helen Papapetrou


Happy ,Healthy and Prosperous Year!!!
Thank you for the fabulous recipes!
I cant wait to try this recipe !!!

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