Vassilopita – A Traditional Greek New Years Cake

It is tradition in Greece that on New Year’s Day a cake is cut, the so called „Vassilopita “. This is a cake baked with nuts and a lucky coin is hidden inside.

First, before cutting the cake, a cross is struck over the cake three times. Then the cake is cut crosswise. The piece that is cut off first is dedicated to God, the second piece to Jesus and the third piece to the house. The other pieces are then distributed to the present family members and/or friends. The one receiving the piece with the coin will be lucky this year. If the coin goes to God or Christ, it means a good blessing for the family. If the coin goes to the house it will be also blessed with luck for the coming year.

The recipe I am presenting here is a very aromatic, fluffy and yummy cake that all of you will love. You will wonder why I use soda powder and baking powder together with the self rising flour. But this is necessary as the dough is quite heavy. 

What you need:

250 gr soft butter
400 gr sugar
1 vanilla sugar
5 egg yolks
5 egg whites
1 pinch of salt
grated peel of 1 orange
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. grounded clove
125 ml orange juice
½ tsp. soda powder
125 ml milk
125 ml cognac
400 gr self rising flour
1 tsp. baking powder
150 gr walnuts coarsely cut
powdered sugar
1 lucky coin

How to prepare it:

In a bowl add the butter with the sugar and the vanilla sugar and beat with an electric mixer for 6-7 minutes until smooth. Add the egg yolks one by one and mix well.

In a separate bowl beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff. Set aside.

Add the orange peel, cinnamon and grounded clove to the butter-egg-mixture and beat continuously.

In a large bowl add the soda powder and pour in the orange juice. Make sure that the bowl is large enough as the soda will “blow-up” the orange juice. It is very important to first add the soda and than add the orange juice. Stir with a spoon and add the mixture to the batter. Add the milk and the cognac and beat.

Mix the flour with the baking powder and sieve. Add to the batter spoon by spoon beating continuously on medium speed. Add the coarsely cut walnuts and mix under at low speed. Finally fold in the egg whites.

Line the bottom of a well buttered baking tin (∅ 35 cm) with baking paper. Add the batter and bake in the preheated oven for 45-50 minutes at 170ºC. Check with a knife or a wooden stick if the cake done. If you use a smaller baking tin increase the baking time until the cake is ready.

Let cool the cake, remove the baking tin and the baking paper and add the lucky coin from the down side of the cake. Dust a thick layer of powder sugar on top of the cake and decorate to your taste.

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