This is how I make my Greek new year’s cake, also called St. Basil’s cake (Vasilopita). Traditionally, it is baked on new year’s eve and then on new year’s day it is cut into as many pieces as household members (and sometimes more). Then, each person selects a piece. The one who gets the piece with the foil-wrapped coin inside will be lucky all year long. I wasn’t the lucky person this year…
Vasilopita is quite a simple cake to make. Its texture is between that of an enriched dough bread and of sponge cake. I think it’s great to have with coffee or tea in the morning or anytime really. Its main flavours are vanilla and orange so it’s different to all the Christmassy desserts of the previous weeks, so much lighter. It feels very nice and appropriate for the start of the new year; I think the fresh, zingy flavour reflects the optimism and new-ness that comes with January 1st (unless one of your resolutions was to not eat cake).
To make the vasilopita, start by separating some eggs.
Using a whisk or a mixer, beat the egg whites until they form medium peaks. I used a hand mixer because I’m lazy.
In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Then set aside.
Cut the softened butter into cubes, place in a large bowl and beat for a minute or two. Then, add the sugar and cream together. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating until incorporated.
Then come the flavours. Add in the orange zest, orange juice, and vanilla extract.
Next, fold in 1/3 of the egg whites. Be careful you don’t beat the air out of the mixture, be gentle. Then, fold in 1/3 of the flour mixture. Repeat two more times. Stop mixing once all of the flour is incorporated.
Pour the batter into a greased 9″ springform cake tin. This is the point where you add the foil-wrapped coin vertically into the mixture, making sure to cover it up with batter.
Bake for about 45 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted into the cake comes our clean of crumbs.
You can decorate the cake with flaked almonds, chopped walnuts or simply icing sugar.
Here’s the recipe card.