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.
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
- 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.
- Add the liqueur and the zest then add the flour, salt and baking powder. Slowly fold the meringue into the batter.
- Place a foil-wrapped coin randomly into the cake mix.
- 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.
- 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.
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