Best Vasilopita (Greek New Year’s Cake)

Best Vasilopita Recipe – Greek New Years Cake (or some call it bread) with fresh oranges, hazelnuts, cinnamon and Greek yogurt. The perfect (vegetarian) Holiday cake with long lasting traditions behind it.

Best Vasilopita Cake recipe - Greek New Year's cake with a coin

Vasilopita (or “βασιλόπιτα” in Greece or “βασιλοπούλλα” in Cyprus) typically enjoyed during the New Year’s celebration in Greece and Cyprus, embodies the spirit of hope and prosperity for the year ahead. It offers a golden crumb infused with aromatic hints of citrus zest, warm spices like cinnamon and cloves, and a subtle touch of vanilla (optional). The tradition of placing a coin inside Vasilopita dates back centuries and is rooted in folklore and religious significance.

VASILOPITA HISTORY:

Legend has it, Saint Basil the Great (who’s image can be seen on some specialty Greek gold coins) saved the people of the city of Caesarea from a tyrant who wanted to receive all gold and jewelry they owned. Since people loved their Bishop Basil, they provided all their precious belongings to him. After the tyrant was defeated Basil wanted to return the treasures to their owners. However, he had no way of knowing who’s coins and jewels were collected. So, to make things right, he baked cakes and placed a coin in each, then distributed them amongst the inhabitants of the city. Each family received bread with a golden coin in it. Ever since, Vasilopita is baked on New Years day and a coin is placed somewhere inside. Whoever finds the coin is believed to have abundant blessings throughout the year.

Greek Vasilopita tradition stands very close to Bulgarian Christmas Eve tradition where we bake a round bread loaf and place a coin in the middle. Whoever finds it is considered blessed with luck. It’s always fun to watch my boys search for the coin in their parts of the loaf.

Vasilopita Ingredients & Substitutions

  1. Flour – all purpose white
  2. Orange juice – fresh always
  3. Fresh orange peel – use fresh peel for best taste, dried works too but taste will change
  4. Eggs
  5. Sugar – brown or white
  6. Olive oil – if needed use other type of vegetable oil like sunflower oil or canola oil.
  7. Cinnamon
  8. Clove spice, powdered – substitute with any type gingerbread spice
  9. Hazelnuts – chopped, or walnuts work well too
  10. Baking powder

How to cook Vasilopita cake

1st: Combine eggs and sugar and bet until foamy and fluffy.

2nd: Combine all remaining ingredients and mix on low speed. Transfer to a greased cake base and bake in preheated oven until toothpick comes out clean. Dust with powdered sugar if desired and serve sliced.

DIFFERENCE between Vasilopita CAKE and Vasilopita BREAD:

Vasilopita has numerous variations (with or without alcohol) and can be made both with Yeast or Baking Powder. The main difference between the two options is – when made with yeast Vasilopita tastes more like a bread. Whereas, made with baking powder (rising agent) it takes like a cake. Today, we are preparing my family’s favorite type of cake (that we secretly enjoy all winter) – with baking powder and fresh orange peel.

How to store Vasilopita?

Store Vasilopita in air-tight container for up to 48 hours, although I doubt it will last that long – it’s too good.

Best Vasilopita Cake recipe - Greek New Year's cake with a coin

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Best Vasilopita Cake recipe - Greek New Year's cake with a coin

Best Vasilopita – Greek New Year’s Cake Recipe

The European Dish
Best Vasilopita Recipe – Greek New Years Cake (or some call it bread) with fresh oranges, cinnamon and Greek yogurt. The perfect Holiday cake with long lasting traditions behind it.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine European, Greek
Servings 8 people

Equipment

  • 2 mixing bowls
  • 1 Springform Round Cake Pan 23cm/9 inch

Ingredients
  

  • 3 eggs medium to large
  • 160 g (5.6 oz) brown sugar
  • 100 g (3,5 oz) Greek yogurt, plain
  • 100 ml olive oil
  • 100 ml orange juice, fresh
  • 225 g (8 oz) white flour
  • 100 g (3,5 oz) chopped hazelnuts
  • 2 tbsp. fresh orange zest
  • 2 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon
  • pinch of clove spice powder

Instructions
 

  • In a large mixing bowl beat eggs and sugar until they become creamy and foamy.
  • Next, add olive oil, orange juice, Greek Yogurt and mix well to combine (on the lowest hand mixer settings).
  • In a separate bowl mix flour, cloves powder, cinnamon, orange zest, baking powder, chopped walnuts and flour. Incorporate that into the egg mixture.
  • Grease you round cake pan with some olive oil and dust it with some flour. Pour over the cake mix and bake in preheated oven on 180C/360F until a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Cover with parchment paper if needed to prevent top from burning out. Let cool, remove from cake pan, dust with some powdered sugar (optional) and slice. Enjoy!
Keyword Mediterranean diet, New Year’s Cake, vegetarian
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