Traditional Vasilopita (Greek New Years Cake)
I rarely bake a type of cake more than once, but this cake is GUARANTEED to be baking away in my oven every single year on the 30th of December. It’s an absolute given that every New Years Eve, once the clock strikes midnight, the family and I will be huddled around the kitchen table indulging in Vasilopita. And we’re not the only ones. It’s a Greek and Cypriot tradition going back YEARS. You see it’s not just any cake; this one is really special to our culture. What sets it apart do I hear you ask? There’s a hidden coin in the cake- whoever happens to have the slice with the coin in is destined for good luck for the whole year. Exciting stuff eh? After cutting the cake, (its cut into enough slices so everyone there has a slice plus one slice for Santa (don’t forget Santa!)), we all make flags out of toothpicks and attach a piece of paper on it with our name written. The flags are then inserted into the pre-cut slices by each person. Our fate is now sealed. We all begin frantically scoffing and dissecting our slice of cake until someone announces they have the coin. In return, we all smile and cheer for them, wishing them all the best for the coming year whilst secretly having the right old ump that we didn’t get the coin. Super childish, I know.
So let’s talk about the cake. Apart from the fact that it’s wonderfully fluffy and light, the zesty aromas make it mouth wateringly divine-promise. I made it my mission to find the best recipe and after trying out different methods, I’ve cracked it. You needn’t look anywhere else for the best Vasilopita recipe- THIS IS IT!
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total time: 4 hours (including cooling and decoration)
For the Vasilopita:
375g butter, room temperature
600g granulated sugar
6 eggs (separated into yolks and whites)
Pinch of salt
Zest of 2 large oranges
125ml freshly squeezed orange juice
225g full fat Greek yogurt (I use FAGE)
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
750g self raising flour, sifted
For the decoration:
A one or a two pound coin, tightly wrapped in foil
Stencil of choice (optional)
Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan and grease and line a 10 inch round baking tin with parchment.
In the bowl of a clean, grease free stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, combine the egg whites with a pinch of salt and whisk on a medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Empty the meringue into a bowl and set aside.
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine butter and sugar and mix on medium speed until fluffy and pale. Add the yolks, one at a time with the mixer on low speed, adding each one only once the last yolk has been absorbed. Add in the orange juice, vanilla extract, zest and yogurt. Mix to combine.
With the mixture on low speed, add a third of the flour to the mixture and fully combine before adding a third of the meringue. Repeat the alternating of flour and meringue until all of it is added to the mixture. Stop mixing once it is all combined (don’t overmix!)
Pour into the prepared pan and place into the oven. Turn the temperature down by 20°C (so 160°C/140°C fan) and bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Place the tin on a cooling rack and let cool for a couple of hours in the tin.
Make a small incision into the top of the cake and push in the coin. Place a serving plate over the tin and flip over to release the cake. No one knows where the coin is now, including you!
Decorate with sifted icing sugar as desired. I always opt for the New Year so I’ll use number stencils but feel free to experiment with different ideas!
Happy New Year and may the coin odds be ever in your favour. Enjoy!