Vasilopita is not just a cake, it is a custom. To be more accurate “cutting the vasilopita” is the custom and it is the most popular Greek custom of New Year’s Eve. Every year this night, families and friends are gathering to celebrate the new year to come. The night starts with a celebration dinner and when the clock strikes midnight we turn off all the lights of the house for just a few seconds. It is our way to say goodby to the old year and welcome the new one with all the lights on again. After exchanging wishes for a good and happy new year it is time for cutting the vasilopita. Vasilopita is a cake or a sweet bread like brioche, with nuts or not, which is baked in a pan and decorated with powdered sugar or icing. The name “Vasilopita” in fact means “Santa’s pie” as the Greek name for “Santa Claus” is “Saint Basil” and the 1st of January is the day we honor his name. The unique and special of the this cake is that there is a hidden “lucky” coin in this. We cut a piece for every person who is present and the one that finds the coin in his piece will be the lucky one for the new year. It is a very beautiful custom and very tasty!
The recipe I give you is the recipe I use for as long as I remember myself making vasilopita. It is an orange cake with an intense orange flavor (due to zest and juice), very fluffy and light. The fruity taste of the cake with the sweetness of the powdered sugar on top makes every bite a real pleasure! Simple but super delicious! Making the vasilopita is not something difficult. It is the classic procedure for almost every cake. Beat the margarine in the mixer until creamy, add sugar, eggs, zest, juice with milk and the flour at the end. The secret to have a real light, soft and airy cake is not to beat the dough very much after you have added the flour. Add the flour spoon by spoon but don’t wait for it to incorporate before adding a new spoon. Make it quick and stop the beating just after the last spoon of flour. With a rubber spatula, gently and slowly, fold in any flour that is not incorporated and pour the mixture to the baking pan.
I am sorry I am not able to show you the inside of this aromatic cake but as I have told you it will be cut just after the entry of the new year. A custom is a custom! I can’t do anything about that! I hope I will take some photos of it at the morning of new Year, if there is something left to photograph. I am not promising!
May this New Year makes us all wiser and more sensitive to other human’s problems or needs!
May all of your dreams come true!
Happy New Year to all of you!!!!
Vasilopita - New Year's cake
- for the cake
- 500 gr self-rising flour, sifted
- 250 gr margarine, softened
- 520 gr sugar
- 4 eggs
- zest of 2 oranges
- 150 gr milk
- 150 gr fresh orange juice
- for decoration
- powdered sugar for dusting
- chocolate, for the chocolate ornaments
Butter a 30 cm diameter round baking pan and line the bottom with a parchment paper.
In a bowl of a stand mixer (or with a hand mixer) beat the margarine until creamy about 3-4 minutes.
Add the sugar, a little at a time and continue beating for another 5 minutes.
Add the eggs, one at a time waiting for every egg to incorporate before adding another one.
Add the orange zest.
In a small bowl or glass, mix together the milk and the orange juice and start adding it to the eggs mixture, spoon by spoon.
After you have added about 3/4 of the milk/juice mixture, lower the mixer speed and add the flour, also spoon by spoon.
Don't wait for the flour to incorporate to add another spoon. This has to be done quickly so that the dough don't be overworked.
After you have added about 3/4 of the flour, pour in the remaining milk/juice mixture.
Continue with the rest of the flour.
Stop the beating just after the last spoon of flour.
With a spatula fold in carefully any flour that is not incorporated.
Pour the mixture in the prepared baking pan.
Bake in a preheated oven at 175°c for 1 hour.
You can check if it is ready by inserting a knife or a toothpick or a skewer in the center of it and if it comes out clean it is done.
Let the cake cool completely.
Remove from the pan, remove the parchment paper and place it to a platter.
Before you start the decoration you have to put the coin in the cake.
Wash thoroughly a coin of your choice and wrap it in a plastic cling wrap.
Using your hand lift the cake a little bit from one side and insert the coin in it.
Make a few turns to the platter so you will not know anymore where the coin is.
Now it is time for decoration.
Dust with enough powdered sugar to cover nicely the top and the sides of the cake.
Decorate with wishes, trees and stars made of chocolate.
for the chocolate wishes, trees and stars
Line a baking sheet with a parchment paper.
Cut the chocolate in small pieces and melt it over a hot-water bath or in microwave.
Put the melted chocolate in a pastry piping bag and with a scissors open a very small opening at the bottom of it.
Alternatively use a piping tip.
Squeezing the piping bag start writing on the parchment paper whatever wishes you want to be on the top of your vasilopita.
Also draw some trees and stars and whatever else you want.
Let the chocolate dry a little and then put them in the fridge to stabilize.
With a thin spatula remove the chocolate ornaments and carefully put them on the vasilopita the way you want.
I finally manage to save a piece to show to you. Isn’t it supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (as Mary Poppins says)!!!