Vasilopita (‘Basil-pie’ or ‘king pie’) is a New Year’s Day bread or cake in Greece and many other areas in eastern Europe and the Balkans which contains a hidden coin or trinket which gives good luck to the receiver, like the Western European king cake. It is associated with Saint Basil’s day, January 1, in most of Greece, but in some regions, the traditions surrounding a cake with a hidden coin are attached to Epiphany or to Christmas. It is made of a variety of dough, depending on regional and family tradition.
In Cyprus, we eat the Vasilopita on New Year’s Day during the family gathering and the person who finds the hidden coin in their slice will have good luck throughout the year.
200 g butter + extra for baking
300 g(1 ½ cup) sugar
6 eggs at room temperature
200 g(2 cups) almonds, coarsely ground
250 g(1 2/3 cup) all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
200 ml (4/5 cup) fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon of orange zest
100 g (1 cup) blanched almonds
Icing sugar for serving (optional)
Preheat oven to 180 ° C and sift flour with baking powder. Butter a mold / pan approximately 23-25 cm in diameter.
Beat butter with sugar until creamy, for about 3 minutes. Lower the mixer speed and add the eggs one by one, waiting for each one to blend in before adding the next. Add the zest and juice bit by bit and continue to beat for another 2 minutes, always at low speed.
Mix in the almonds, the flour with the baking powder and the vanilla. When the mixture is homogenised, pour it into the buttered form, insert the coin wrapped in a piece of foil and flatten the surface. Then either chop the whitened almonds in big chunks and scatter them on the surface or use the whole almonds to write the new year (2020). Bake the vasilopita for about 45-50 minutes (check if it is ready by piercing its centre with a skewer – it should come out dry). Allow it to cool in the form for 10 minutes and then remove it. Serve, if desired, sprinkled with powdered sugar.