Vasilopita is the Greek New Year's cake. Vasilopita is associated with Saint Basil's Day on January 1st in Greece. On New Year's Day families cut the Vasilopita to bless the house and bring good luck for the new year.It is traditional to bake a coin into the Vasilopita (St. Basil's cake). The one who receives the coin is considered to be especially blessed for the year. A piece of cake is sliced for each member of the family and any visitors present at the time. Slices are also cut for various other people or groups, depending on local and family tradition. They may include St. Basil and other saints, the Virgin Mary, the Church and the poor. In my family, slices are cut for Jesus Christ, for the poor and one slice for each member of the family. Vasilopita is made in honour of a beautiful act of charity by St. Basil to the poor and needy of his flock. In order to insure that the needy would have money for life's necessities, and knowing that the needy were also proud people, St. Basil had the ladies of his church bake sweet bread with coins baked into them. In this way he could give them money without demeaning them at all. To this day, many wealthy families would place a gold coin in Vasilopita. It is meant as a gift to the lucky one since in Greece and Cyprus we exchange gifts on New Year’s Day as well! Saint Basil is our Santa Claus like Saint Nicholas in other countries.
- 1 cup butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 ½ cups flour
- 2-3 tablespoons brandy or Grand Marnier liqueur
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 cup fresh orange juice
- the zest of 1 orange
- 1 cup yoghurt
- 1 cup almonds finely ground
- 1 coin wrapped in foil
- Beat the butter and the sugar in the mixer until fluffy and then add the eggs one by one beating constantly.
- Mix in the yoghurt and sift the flour and baking powder.
- Continue to beat until the batter is fluid.
- Add the brandy or liqueur, the orange juice and the orange zest and continue to beat.
- Mix the almonds and don’t forget to place the coin in the mixture!
- Place the mixture in a flat, buttered pan and bake in a medium oven for about an hour.
- When cold decorate the Vasilopita with some icing sugar and almonds.