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- Dish type
- White bread
Vasilopita is a sweet Greek bread that's served at the beginning of each new year. The person who receives the coin is considered to be especially blessed for the year.
2 people made this
- 120ml warm milk
- 7g dried active yeast
- 70g strong white bread flour
- 820g strong white bread flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 100g caster sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 170g butter, melted
- 3 eggs, room temperature
- 475ml warm milk
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tablespoon water
- 50g chopped almonds
MethodPrep:20min ›Cook:40min ›Extra time:2hr15min proofing › Ready in:3hr15min
- In a small bowl, stir together 120ml milk, yeast and 70g bread flour. Cover and let the mixture rise in a warm place until nearly doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
- Place 820g bread flour in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the yeast mixture, salt, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, 170g melted butter, 3 eggs and 475ml milk. Mix thoroughly to make a stiff dough.
- Transfer the dough into a greased springform tin. Brush dough with melted butter, cover with greased clingfilm and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 60 to 90 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 200 C / Gas 6. Beat egg with 1 tablespoon water to make an egg wash.
- When dough has risen, insert a clean silver coin into the loaf. Brush dough with egg wash and sprinkle with chopped almonds. Bake in preheated oven until deep golden brown, about 40 minutes.
Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(11)
Reviews in English (10)
Makes good bread and wonderful toast!Had a bit of trouble with the recipe, because the first part instructs you to put milk, yeast and some flour to rise, but then it doesn't specifically tell you to mix it in with the big bowl of flour.My dough was almost too much for a 9" round pan.The flavor is really good, and it makes some of the best toast I've ever had! It's close to my grandmother's recipe, which I've been trying to replicate for several years.-02 Jan 2002
great sweet taste. also, really convenient b/c you don't have to knead it. the texture leaves a little to be desired, but the taste makes up for it. the only problem is that this needs to be in a 9x13 cake pan. the 8x8 is entirely too small.-12 Oct 2003
by Barbara Molin
I used 1 tablespoon of yeast, 3/4 cups of milk, 3 eggs, 1 1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind, 1teaspoon almond extract, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 4 1/2 cups flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 cup melted butter and 1more egg for glazing with the almonds. I made it like ordinary bread rising three times and baking it at 350. It turned out perfect.-02 Jan 2015
- 3/4 cup of butter
- 1 1/2 cups of sugar
- 6 eggs
- 4 tablespoons of brandy
- 4 tablespoons orange zest (grated peel of two oranges)
- 4 cups of self-rising flour
- 3/4 cup of evaporated milk
- Optional: powdered sugar
- Optional: grated coconut
- Optional: marmalade
Bring all ingredients to room temperature, and preheat the oven to 390 F/200 C.
Cream the butter in a mixing bowl. Beating continuously, add in order: the sugar, very slowly, then the eggs one at a time, and finally the brandy.
Still beating, sprinkle in the grated orange peel to distribute evenly throughout the batter. Add milk, then flour, a small amount at a time.
Flour a round 12" to 13" diameter tapsi (baking pan with 2 to 3" sides) and pour in the batter.
The cake will bake for a total of about 45 minutes, but halfway through, when it has started to set, wrap a coin in foil and insert the coin carefully into the dough, pushing it down just below the surface. (Inserting the coin when the cake is slightly firmed will prevent it from sinking to the bottom.) Insert it anywhere except the exact center of the cake.
Continue baking until done. Allow to cool for 5 minutes. Place a large plate over the top of the tapsi and invert it so the cake comes out on the plate. Take a second plate (for serving) and put it over the cake, invert to get the cake right side up.
Allow the Vasilopita to cool for 4 hours before serving.
Vasilopita is a traditional Greek cake that is eaten as a family for Saint Basil’s Day (January 1). It is also called “New Year’s Day Cake”.
It is customary to hide a coin or a bean inside the cake before baking. This coin is supposed to bring good luck to the person who finds it. Vasilopita takes the form of a bread or a cake, depending on the region in which it is made.
What is vasilopita?
Vasilopita (Greek: Βασιλόπιτα) is a traditional cake that is eaten for New Year in Greece and the Balkans. The cake contains a hidden coin or piece of jewelry that is supposed to bring good luck to whoever finds it in their slice of the cake.
There are several recipes for vasilopita. Depending on the region in Greece, this cake comes in the form of a cake or bread. The tradition of a coin hidden in the cake continues to this day.
Vasilopita is rich in flavor, due to the presence of orange peel and typical ingredients such as mahleb and mastic. It is a very fragrant white cake similar to Savoy or pound cake, and which has the quality of having a fairly dense texture.
This cake and associated traditions are also found in the Balkan region, particularly in Ukraine, Serbia, Albania and Bulgaria. It’s also known as Chronópita (Χρονόπιτα), which literally means “New Year’s pie”.
What is the origin of vasilopita?
Etymologically, the term pita (πίτα) refers to the word “tart” or “cake”. The name βασιλόπιτα also comes from βασιλεύς which means “king”.
There are several legends surrounding the tradition of vasilopita. But all the legends often associate the vasilopita with the feast of Saint Basil, on January 1st.
As the city of Caesarea was under siege, Saint Basil of Caesarea (329 – 379), Archbishop of Cappadocia, called on the citizens to gather their most precious effects and possessions to end the enemy attack led by the Roman legions.
Each citizen gave all he could in gold, precious stones and jewelry. Faced with such an act of collective donation, the Roman enemy was so astonished, that the siege of the city was called off without even receiving payment.
The party was there. Saint Basil then set out to return the valuables donated but did not know who each object belonged to. He then prepared several loaves of bread in which he buried all the wealth given by the citizens.
Then he randomly distributed each loaf of bread across town. According to legend, each citizen miraculously received exactly what they gave to end the siege of the city. Since this event, peace has returned to the city of Caesarea.
What is mahleb?
Mahleb or mahalepi (μαχλέμπι) is a spice that is made from the kernel of the black cherry of the Saint Lucia wood (Prunus mahaleb). In Greece, it is found in traditional recipes such as tsoureki bread, New Year’s vasilopita, or the braid of Easter bread. It is used in small quantities because its aroma is very strong.
Traditions & rituals around vasilopita
The tradition of vasilopita brings families together for New Year’s Day. A coin is hidden in the cake before baking. On January 1 at midnight, it is customary to carve a cross with the tip of a knife on the surface of the cake.
Then a part is cut for Jesus Christ, a second part for the Virgin Mary and a third for the poor. Then, each family member is given a slice of cake, in order of age from oldest to youngest. According to some local traditions, slices of cake are reserved for symbolic members such as Saint Basil or other saints.
- To Prepare:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan and a 4-inch round cake pan.
- Combine the almonds, brown sugar, and honey in a small bowl, and set aside. Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and mahlab in a medium bowl, and set aside. In a large bowl, cream the butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the lemon juice and vanilla. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, alternating with the milk, and mix well.
- Divide one-third of the nut mixture between the two prepared pans, scattering it in an even layer over their bottoms. Fill the smaller (4-inch) pan two-thirds full of batter, then pour half of the remaining batter into the larger (9-inch) pan. Bake both layers for 20 minutes, until the cakes become a bit firm. Sprinkle half of the remaining almond mixture in an even layer over both cakes, and lay the coin on top of one of the partly baked cakes. Pour the remaining batter on top of each cake. Bake for another 20 to 25 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center of each comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in their pans for 10 minutes.
- Remove the cakes from their pans, and place the smaller one on top of the larger. Top with the remaining almond mixture, and serve warm.
Excerpted from A World of Cake: 150 Recipes for Sweet Traditions from Cultures Near and Far by Krystina Castella. © 2010 by Krystina Castella. Published by Storey Publishing. Photography © Renee Anjanette Photography, used with permission from Storey Publishing.
Vasilopita Bread Recipe
Every ingredient is important and plays a significant role, but when it comes to baking, I consider yeast to be the most important ingredient. I have been asked so many times now about the brand of yeast I use for my baking that I feel the need of making it public information rather than giving it one-on-one every time.
I have so far used almost 18 different brands and a variety of yeast. All of them are good, however, the brand that I have liked the most is Prime. Ever since I have used Prime Instant dry yeast, I have never tried any other brand. The results are wonderful, no aftertaste, good shelf life and easy to work with. If you plan to buy yeast and looking for a recommendation, go for it.
To start, in a jar/cup take lukewarm milk. Don’t overheat the milk as we are going to dissolve yeast into it and hot milk can kill the yeast. So the temperature of the milk should be between 36° C to 40°C. In lukewarm milk, dissolve 2 tablespoons of sugar and ¾ tsp yeast. Let the solution sit until it froths. In normal weather conditions, it will take approximately 5-10 min to activate.
This recipe reminds me of my Hokkaido Bread. In that bread, I have used milk for kneading, and water for making the tangzhong, however in this good luck bread I have used only milk.
In a kneading bowl, add flour, salt, orange zest, olive oil, and activated yeast solution. Using a wooden spoon start mixing everything. Initially, the dough will be quite sticky. Don’t worry it will be all right once you are done with kneading. Take this dough on lightly floured surface and start kneading.
Continue to knead the dough until you get the soft, non-sticky and stretchable dough. Now place the kneaded dough into a greased bowl and cover it with a clean kitchen towel. Keep the bowl at some warm place until dough doubles.
Presently the temperature at my place remains between 17 °C to 24 °C. So my dough took 50 minutes to rise. You don’t go by the time, but keep checking the volume. Depending on weather conditions at your place it can take lesser or longer time.
When dough doubles, gently punch it to release the air. Knead it for a minute or two. Shape it into a boule. And place it in greased 8” round pan. I have used 8” spring pan. Because of its loose bottom, it becomes easy to demold the bread after baking.
Cover the dough again with a kitchen towel and let the dough rest until it doubles. For the second rise, the dough took 40 minutes. After 40 minutes I kept my oven for preheating at 200 °C. When my oven was getting ready, I made some pattern on my bread using a sharp knife. Because this bread is known as Saint Basil’s Good luck bread, so I carved basil leaves on the boule and brushed it with milk.
I then decorated the bread with some sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds. This all is optional. You can do any design you want. Generally, people write a number of the year or make a cross.
My bread is now ready to go inside the preheated oven. Isn’t it looking pretty? When I made the Pumpkin Dinner Rolls the little pumpkin shaped bread stole people heart. I am sure the beauty of this bread is going to be a tough competition for my Pumpkin rolls.
We will bake this bread in the preheated oven at 200 °C using the middle rack for 30 minutes. If you are not sure about the temperature of your oven, then I would suggest you to start using Oven thermometer for more accuracy.
My bread was done in 30 minutes and so I took it out from the oven. After resting it for 5 minutes, I demolded the bread. This is the time when I inserted the coin into my bread. Few people like to insert the coin into the dough before baking and few after baking. I feel it safe after baking. So using a sharp knife I made a cut in the base and inserted the coin and let the bread rest on cooling rack for overnight.
Next day in the morning, the bread was ready to serve. Overnight resting gave enough time to bread to cool down and made the crust soft. The texture of this Vasilopita recipe with orange zest stole my heart.
My son and his father fought a little on cutting the Vasilopita but finally, the son took over his dad. He was too excited to cut the bread. And he is the one who got the coin. I wish all the luck to him for this coming year and ever.
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Vasilopita (Greek New Year’s Bread)
Growing up, I can&rsquot remember a New Year&rsquos day that didn&rsquot involve Vasilopita. This Greek New Year&rsquos Bread is sweet and moist, baked with eggs and milk, scented with orange zest, and topped with toasty sesame seeds.
It&rsquos brushed with an egg wash before baking and a pattern is carved into it with a sharp knife or razor blade, which results in a gorgeous loaf of bread with a deep, dark, chestnut-brown color.
This is a traditional yeast bread, and requires two rises and kneading. Normally, I&rsquom all about fast, easy recipes, and when I do make bread from scratch I usually use a no-knead bread recipe.
Full disclosure: vasilopita is not very fast to make and it does get a bit messy.
BUT it is relatively easy and it&rsquos such a fun tradition that I love doing it once a year!
Before I get into how to make this bread, there&rsquos one more very special thing about it.
Traditionally, a coin is hidden inside it when it is done baking. It&rsquos slipped into the bottom and then spun around, so the cook doesn&rsquot know where it is either. Whoever gets the slice of bread with the coin has good luck for the rest of the year.
It&rsquos similar to the Western European and New Orleans tradition of a King Cake.
One time when I was little, I got the only coin in the bread for my whole church! I don&rsquot really remember if I was especially lucky that year but I do remember it felt like I won something really, really big.
Eating vasilopita is a Greek Christian tradition that celebrates St. Basil&rsquos Day, or New Year&rsquos Day, but similar traditions are present throughout Eastern Europe.
It&rsquos traditionally sliced into at midnight at the New Year and served to each member of the family in order of age, starting with the eldest. Slices are often devoted to other symbolic people or groups, such as St. Basil or the church.
There&rsquos a rich history involving vasilopita, and you can read more about it here, but I&rsquom going to start to get into how to actually make it! Because eating it is my FAVORITE part.
To start, heat up 1 cup of milk and 1 teaspoon of sugar on the stovetop or in the microwave.
Not too hot! You will add the yeast in the milk. The first time I made this I killed the yeast by heating the milk too high.
It should be between 100-110 degrees (no need to use a thermometer to measure the temperature- you should be able to keep your finger in it and feel warmth, but not burning).
Once the milk and sugar is warm, add 2 packets (or 4.5 teaspoons) of yeast. Whisk until dissolved, cover with a towel and allow to double in size (10- 20 minutes).
Meanwhile, measure 7 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and 3/4 cups sugar into a the bowl of your standing mixer. You can use a wooden spoon or electric mixer to do this as well.
Stir dry ingredients and make a well in the center. After the yeast is doubled in size, add yeast, 1 more cup of warm milk, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 4 beaten eggs, and the zest of one orange. Mix together until a smooth dough forms (add up to 1/2 cup more flour if necessary).
Knead the dough on floured surface for about 10 minutes (or continue kneading in your mixer if you prefer).
Swirl some oil in the bottom of a large bowl. Place the kneaded dough inside and turn once, allowing the oil to coat the top of the dough. This prevents drying out/cracking when the dough rises. Allow to rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours, or until about doubled in size.
When I need to let dough rise, I usually turn on the oven light, turn on the temperature on for 1 minute, allow it to warm up slightly, and immediately turn the heat off. Then, I place the dough in the oven to rise. The residual heat as well as the heat from the oven light will keep a toasty (but not TOO toasty) environment for the dough to rise.
Punch dough down and divide into two. Knead each for a few minutes and form into two balls. Butter two nine-inch round pans and place the dough balls in the middle of each. Place back in a warm area, covered with a kitchen towel, to allow to rise again for about 1 hour.
Man, did I get a lot of new year&rsquos day cleaning done while the dough was rising!
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Once the dough has doubled in size again, use a sharp knife or clean razor blade to carve a pattern in the top of your dough. You can do any design you want, and a lot of people will write out the numbers of the year, or a cross shape, but it&rsquos easy to start with lines that radiate from the center (curved or straight). Then, you can add other lines to connect them.
I got a little fancy and did a vine with leaves coming out from it.
FINALLY, beat one egg and brush the top of each loaf with it to cover it. Sprinkle with sesame seeds (some people use slices almonds instead), and bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees F.
Turn the temperature down to 350 degrees F and bake for another 30 minutes, or until the loaves turn a deep chestnut brown on top.
When they are done, allow them to cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then take them out of the pans and allow to cool on a rack. You may need to run a knife along the edge to separate it from the side of the pan.
At this point, you can insert a coin (I usually use a dime since it&rsquos small) through the bottom of one of the loaves, pushing it through with a toothpick or skinny knife.
Yes, this is probably a choking hazard. Watch your little ones!
It&rsquos very easy to cut the ingredients in half to make only one loaf, if you prefer.
I like having this Greek New Year&rsquos Bread with Black Eyed Pea Soup, another New Year&rsquos tradition in the American south.
And if you like this vasilopita recipe, you&rsquoll love these other Greek recipes for Manestra (Orzo and with Beef), Greek Spaghetti, and Greek Green Beans (Fasolakia).
Vasilopita Recipe: Greek New Year’s Cake
Vasilopita is a cake with a lucky coin inside traditionally consumed on New Year’s Eve in Greece
Here’s a traditional recipe to make the favorite New Year’s Greek cake aka Vasilopita.
14oz/400gr ALL PURPOSE FLOUR
3FL OZ/90 ml MILK
¼ TEASPOON VANILA
¼ BAKING POWDER
1/2 TEASPOON ORANGE ZEST
Lucky charm (usually a foil-wrapped coin)
- Add in the mixer the butter and sugar and mix for two minutes
- As you are continuing mixing add 4 eggs, milk, baking powder, vanilla, orange zest and mix until absorbed
- Add the flour and mix for three minutes
- Place the cake mix in an oiled-up baking pan
- Take a coing and wrap it in foil, place in the cake mix
- Bake at preheated oven 320°F/160°C for 50 minutes
- Add powdered sugar and design the year
Prepare a gift for the person who will find the winning piece with the lucky coin (flouri), it is said thet will have luck for the whole new year. There are different variations of Vasipolita recipes, here’s another one.
Also read the fascinating legend behind the origins of Vasilopita and watch the video:
Traditional, Moist, Orangey Vasilopita Bread
Depending upon where in Greece you might come from, you may have different Vasilopita baking traditions and recipes.
There is the cake version, which is prevalent on many Greek islands and in communities with descendants from Smyrna and Asia Minor, and there is the bread version, which is a variation of the Easter tsoureki.
It seems most people these days opt for the citrus-infused cake version, although most church communities and organizations that host their “Vasilopita Cutting” celebrations usually make breads.
Below is a tried and tested recipe for simple Vasilopita bread.
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 3/4 Cup milk lukewarm
- 3 eggs beaten
- 1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange rind*
- *Note: some people prefer a more orange-flavored cake and double the orange zest, while another option is to add lemon zest to the mixture along with the orange zest.
- Dissolve yeast in 1/4 Cup of the milk. Add remainder of milk, eggs, orange rind and sugar.
- Sift 3 Cups flour, salt and spice into a warm bowl and make a well in the center. Pour in yeast mixture and stir to blend in flour, gradually adding warm melted butter.
- Mix dough with hands until it comes away from sides. Turn on to a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, adding remaining flour as required. Knead for 10 minutes.
- Place ball of dough in a clean bowl brushed with melted butter. Turn dough over to coat top with butter and cover bowl with a cloth or plastic wrap. Leave to prove (rise) in a warm place until doubled in bulk.
- Punch down and turn on to lightly floured surface. Knead lightly and shape into a round loaf. Place on a large greased baking sheet or in a greased 25 cm (10 inch) deep cake pan.
- Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled – about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Glaze with well-beaten egg and arrange blanched almonds in numbers to denote the New Year, pressing in lightly.
- Bake in a moderately hot oven (350 degrees F.) for 45 minutes until golden brown and cooked when tested.
- If bread browns too quickly place a piece of greased brown paper on top. Cool on a wire rack.
- Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.
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Vasilopita/Tsoureki: Greek Round Bread for New Years
- Sift the flour into a very large wooden or plastic salad bowl. Make a small well in the center of the flour.
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Orange-Brandy Cake (Vasilopita)
3/4 cup unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
1 & 1/2 tbs orange zest
1/2 tbs lemon zest
3 & 1/2 tbs brandy
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup orange juice
3 cups all purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
icing sugar coconut shavings for topping (optional)
1.Preheat the oven to 176C. Grease and flour an 10 inch circular pan, line the bottom with parchment paper.
2. With a mixer, beat the butter and sugar well. This will take around 10 minutes on a high setting. The mixture has to change to a very pale yellow colour.
3. Add all the eggs, one egg at a time, ensuring that it has been incorporated into the batter before adding the next egg.
4. Add the brandy and vanilla and mix until incorporated. Add the orange and lemon zests. Don’t worry if your batter begins to curdle at this stage.
5. Stir the baking powder and flour together.
6. Next add the orange juice and flour, alternating with small amounts of each as you add these ingredients, starting and ending with flour.
7. Pour the batter into the pan. If adding a coin into the cake, tightly wrap the coin in plastic wrap, and drop it into the batter. Ensure the top of the batter is smooth so that it is not obvious where the coin has been dropped.
8. Place in the oven for 60 minutes. Test the center of the cake with a toothpick after 60 minutes to ensure it is cooked. Remove and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and let cool on a cooling rack.
9. If you wish, dust icing sugar and coconut flakes on top before serving.
Thank you 2013. Goodbye 2013. You were a wonderful year. I took a photography course. Started my food blog. And met a guy. So all in all, I liked 2013. In a few days 2014 will start. I wonder what is around the corner. If you had asked me 5 years ago where I would be in 2013 I doubt I would have said: I will have quit my lawyer job in London, moved to Cyprus – a country I have only ever visited on holiday, and be learning how to make traditional Cypriot foods and writing about it. Or that I would have a little (fat) pug called Ernie who snorts and begs for food non-stop. But that’s life I suppose.
As for the website, I am so, so thankful to all who have taken an interest. Really, truly thankful. It’s so nice to be able to share something I love to do with you. I really mean it and I don’t know how else to express it except by saying thank-you and baking sweet goodies so that we can enjoy them together via the internet. It’s only been a few months, but the facebook page has just reached “likes” – which is a huge milestone. Really, I extend a HUGE thank-you to all. Thank you to those reading in Cyprus, Greece, and all over the world. And thank you to Cypriot & Proud, Toutoukki Niouz , Foodgawker and Tastespotting for all featuring Afrodite’s Kitchen. OK, so now to the recipe. In Cyprus, when the “New Year” arrives, it is tradition to cut a cake with a coin hidden inside. This cake is called a “vasilopita” and it is said that the person who finds the coin will have good luck for the rest of the year.
It is a nice tradition and often results in family members wanting large pieces of cake. OK, only some. There are a variety of ways to prepare a “vasilopita” and my favourite is to make a sweet-style orange-brandy cake. So that is what you will find below. I think you could substitute the brandy with bourbon if you wanted. Because “that bourbon is so hot right now”. (That’s a “Zoolander” reference in case anyone thinks I am crazy.) I took it to a boxing-day Christmas dinner the other day and those there had seconds so the recipe is a keeper. Anyway, I wish all of you reading a very happy New Year and good luck in finding the coin! Much love to you all, and see you in the New Year with some healthy recipes!
Squeeze the juice of an orange in a bowl and add the raisins to soften them. They will get a lovely orange flavor!
For the New Years Cake we like to use Metaxa , a very special kind of brandy. This Greek cognac is an old brand from 1888.
Make the mixture and put it in a round baking dish which is buttered and floured.
Then, with no one looking, put in the coin somewhere at the side. Do not put the coin in the middle as chances are that in that case more people will get the coin-).
Bake for more or less 45-50 minutes. When you take the cake out of the oven let it cool down a little. Put the Vasilopita on a nice plate and decorate it with icing sugar. Get some delicious pomegranates and ‘write’ the year on top of the cake!
We at Odyssey wish you lots of fun with this Greek tradition. Don’t forget to bless the Vasilopita and dedicate the pieces to everything and everyone that you love. We hope you will be the one to find the coin!