Greek Vasilopita (St. Basil’s cake)

Posted On November 14, 2006

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Vasilopita is a cake which conceals a coin-token. The entire cake is carefully divided up, the Saint (Saint Basil who is celebrated on New Year’s Day) gets the first piece, then the second and third goes to Jesus Christ and Virgin Mary, then the eldest member of the household (or the father), and so on down through the family, sometimes including those who live far away. The one who finds the coin in his/her piece of cake is considered to have a good luck throughout the year. 

The cake is baked on the week before New Year’s Day, and it’s served on New Year’s Eve and on New Year’s Day. Here’s the recipe >

Ingredients >
1 cup fresh milk
2 tsp yeast
4 eggs
1 cup butter
1½ cup sugar
1 sachet mahlepi
grated lemon peel
1 level tsp salt
1 kg flour
blanched almonds

Method >
Pour half a cup of tepid milk in a large bowl and dissolve the yeast in it.
Add half a cup of flour and mix it until it becomes dough.
Cover with a towel and leave it in a warm place for about an hour in order to let it rise.
Once the dough has risen, beat the sugar with the yolks in a mixer.
Pour in the rest of the milk, egg white, melted butter, mahlepi and lemon scraping. Knead the dough, adding flour gradually so that the dough does not become tough.
Shape it into balls and place them in a bowl.
Cover them with a towel and leave in a warm place for three hours, until they double in size. Knead the dough for five minutes and place on buttered wax paper spread on a large round tray or two smaller ones. Cover the balls of dough and leave in a warm place for about two hours until they double in size. Beat together an egg yolk and a teaspoon of water and use this mixture to glaze the dough.
Before placing in oven, use the blanched almonds to mark the dough with the numerals of the new year.

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