Food & Wine

Vasilopita (New Year’s Coin Cake)

Vasilopita is a New Year’s Day traditional cake in Greece and many other areas in eastern Europe and the Balkans. The cake contains a hidden coin which gives good luck to the receiver.   Usually  the night of the new year, the moment of the change of the year, the cake is traditionally cut by the oldest member of the family, and the individual who receives the portion of the cake which contains the coin is considered blessed and lucky for a whole New Year.

This age old tradition commenced in the 4th century, when Saint Basil , who was a bishop, wanted to distribute money to the poor people in his Diocese. He wanted to preserve their dignity, so as not to look like charity,  he commissioned some women to bake sweetened bread, in which he arranged to place gold coins. So the families in cutting the bread to nourish themselves, were pleasantly surprised to find the coins.

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Ingredients

  • 300 g butter, at room temperature
  • 250 g icing sugar

1st mixture:

  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 7 g mahleb
  • 2 g mastic
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • zest of 2 oranges

 

2nd mixture:

  • 1 teaspoons vanilla powder or liquid
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 80 g milk

 

3rd mixture:

  • 400 g all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

Decoration:  icing sugar

 

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 180* C (350*F) Fan.
  • In a mixer, beat the butter and icing sugar, with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Stop beating and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat for another 5 minutes. (It is important that the butter is at room temperature. The softer it is the fluffier your mixture will be.)
  • While you are waiting, add the remaining ingredients from the 1st mixture (apart from the orange zest) and beat them in a blender along with a tablespoon of sugar, until they become powdery. When ready, add the orange zest and mix.
  • Add this powdery mixture to the mixer and beat on low speed.
  • Add all the ingredients from the 2nd mixture, in batches. Release the mixing bowl and add the ingredients from the 3rd mixture. Mix with a large spoon.
  • Grease a round 25 cm spring form baking pan and dust with flour. Transfer the batter to the baking pan.
  • Bake for 45-50 minutes.
  • When ready, remove from oven. Allow the cake to cool completely. Pour the icing sugar over it and serve.

Tips:

The secrets for this recipe are two. The fresh biological eggs and the butter. Produced by The Greek Award Winning Dairy Company “Flegga“, this goat butter gives a velvety consistency and a truly inimitable flavor. Rich source of several vitamins such A, D, E, (E is a powerful antioxidant) B12, K2 (K2 protects against heart disease and osteoporosis). Most of the saturated fats in butter are short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), the most common of which is butyric acid. Butyric acid is a unique component of the milk fat of ruminant animals, such as sheep, and goats. Reduces the  inflammations in the digestive system and has been used as a treatment for Crohn’s disease.

This is all due to the free grazing of healthy animals under the sun in one of the most pristine areas of Greece. In the heart of the National Park of Pindos.

Flavors:

Mahleb or Mahalepi (Greek : Μαχλεπι) is an aromatic spice made from the seeds of a species of cherry, Prunus mahaleb.   Mahleb is rich source of fatty acids, phytosterols and antioxidant phenols (good for hypertension and colesterol) also contains vitamins B1, B6,  E, a tocopherol, proteins, essential oils

Mastic (GreekΜαστίχα) is a resin obtained from the mastic tree (Pistacia lentiscus) cultivated  in the Greek island of Chios. Mastic releases a refreshing flavor similar to pine and cedar.   Mastic resin absorbs cholesterol, it has antibacterial properties, acts as an oral antiseptic, aids digestion, tightens the gums, heals wounds and scientists discovered that when it is administrated even in small doses it cures stomach ulcers.

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