Vasilopita – Greek New Year’s Cake

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Happy New Year everyone!! I hope you have all had a wonderful start to 2016.

We love celebrating New Year’s Day with our Greek friends – a somewhat cosy affair which doubles as a belated Christmas celebration for the little ones but without the stress of Christmas Day itself. In the spirit of Greek family gatherings, there is always an abundance of deliciously-prepared food on offer, and always a Vasilopita – a Greek New Year’s Cake – to celebrate the first day of the year.

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There are many different versions of Vasilopita, ranging from a cake in plain form to a yeasted bread with spices. Like a King’s Cake or Galette des Rois, a coin is hidden inside this cake and the person who finds the coin is said to be granted luck for the entire year!

I think this cake is traditionally eaten at midnight on New Year’s Eve, but I couldn’t wait another year before eating it again, so I baked it in a fancy cake tin instead of the usual round cake tin.

You could slice the cake as per normal and serve them to guests at random, but our friends follow the tradition of serving the cake from oldest to youngest in the room.

This year, our friend produced the most delightfully moist and fluffy Vasilopita that I swiftly begged her for the recipe. To start the year on such a delicious and sweet note can only be a good omen, even if I wasn’t the recipient of the lucky coin.

How do you celebrate New Year’s Day?

Vasilopita - Greek New Year's Cake
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Recipe adapted from Whipped The Blog
Author:
Serves: Serves 8-10 people
Ingredients
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 110g (1/2 cup) butter, softened
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 180ml (3/4 cup) full cream milk
  • 150g (5 oz) plain Greek yoghurt
  • zest of 1 lemon
Method
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
  2. Butter and flour a 23cm (9 inch) Bundt tin or round cake tin.
  3. Measure the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl.
  4. Cream the butter with sugar until it is light and fluffy.
  5. Add one egg at a time, beating well after each egg and with a spoonful of the flour mixture to stop the mixture from curdling.
  6. Slowly beat in all of the flour mixture, and then add the milk, Greek yoghurt and lemon zest. Mix until all of the ingredients are well incorporated.
  7. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin. Wrap a coin (preferably a large one to avoid the risk of choking) in aluminium foil and drop it into the batter.
  8. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the cake is lightly golden and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  9. Leave the cake to cool on a wire rack for about 15 minutes, before turning the cake out of the tin to cool completely.
  10. Dust with icing sugar before serving.

Cook’s Notes

To serve a larger crowd, you can double this recipe and bake it in a 12 inch cake tin. You might need to bake the cake for a bit longer.

Share your photos!

If you have used this recipe, I would love to hear how it turned out! Please leave a comment below and share your photos on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter using #eatlittlebird

 

10 Comments

  1. Katrina 14 January 2016

    A cake like this with a coin in it sounds like the perfect way to begin the year! I haven’t hear of anything like this before. It looks lovely!

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 14 January 2016

      Thanks, Katrina! I hadn’t heard of this cake until we started celebrating New Year’s Day with our Greek friends. It’s pretty much a lemon sponge cake with a bit of fun added 🙂

      Reply
  2. Angela 14 January 2016

    Happy New Year! I’ve never heard of this cake but it looks wonderful! I’ve made galette des Rois, and like that, it seems such a shame to eat things like this once a year!

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 14 January 2016

      Oh I agree – I wish I could eat Galette des Rois throughout the year! I tend to binge on these sorts of cakes in the lead up to the actual day as I know it will be another year before the shops will sell them again. Happy New Year!

      Reply
  3. Vickie 17 January 2016

    sounds absolutely lovely

    Reply
  4. Louise | Cygnet Kitchen 20 January 2016

    My favourite bundt shape, this cake is so pretty, Thanh! Thank you for sharing this traditional recipe, it looks too lovely to only have once a year. x

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 21 January 2016

      Glad you like this shape! I was a bit hesitant about it at first because it seemed awkward to cut, but I love that it’s a bit different 🙂

      Reply
  5. Paula 22 January 2016

    Oh, they’re cute those oranges!!! I thought the cake would have orange, but it same as great without them!

    I always find so pretty the names for Greek dishes, and this cake has to be delicious.

    I forgot to tell you! I made your (and Rachel’s) Galette des Rois this year, instead of our Roscón de Reyes (next year I should prepare both them). It was great your recipe. Buuuuuut, well, I couldn’t have the crown!!! It was OK, I was looking everyminute the oven, and so proud of me. And then, when 20 minutes of baking have passed and I thought I deserve a prize… well, som of the “triangles” went down!!! I tried to give a solution, but finally, it was better to lower all them before creating a churro. Perhaps it wasn’t enough cold. I’ll try again, I promise!

    Have a nice weekend, Thanh!

    Reply
  6. anna @ annamayeveryday 8 February 2016

    What a beautiful looking cake, perfect to start the New Year off with!

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 10 February 2016

      Thank you! I do feel like we started the year on a good note 🙂

      Reply

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