This is a recipe for Vasilopita, a traditional Greek cake served on New Year’s Day. It’s easy to make and everyone will love the rich, buttery, orange-flavored cake. I’m Greek and if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years it’s that Greeks are all about food and traditions and traditions that include food and superstitions of good luck and food that brings good luck and more food. And of course, let’s not forget about the food. This cake is not only yummy, but it contains a coin. Traditionally, the first slice is cut and reserved for God. The second slice is given to the head of the household. The third goes to his wife, additional slices are cut for the children from oldest to youngest, then other relatives and guests. The recipient of the slice of cake that contains the coin will purportedly have good luck for the year. It’s a fun tradition and hey, you can’t go wrong with cake, right? I’m all for any excuse to eat dessert.
Here’s the easy recipe:
3/4 CUP BUTTER 1 of 14
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Start with 3/4 cup of softened, room temperature butter in a large bowl.
1 1/2 CUPS SUGAR 2 of 14
Slowly add 1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar while creaming it with the butter.
6 EGGS 3 of 14
Add 1 beaten egg at a time, thoroughly incorporating each before the next addition.
4 TABLESPOONS BRANDY 4 of 14
Add 4 tablespoons of brandy to the batter. (Sampling from the bottle is optional, but it makes the baking experience more fun.)
2 GRATED ORANGE PEELS 5 of 14
Grate the peel of 2 oranges and add the zest to the cake batter, stirring it in completely.
3/4 CUP EVAPORATED MILK 6 of 14
Very slowly, add in 3/4 cup of evaporated milk while continually mixing. The cake batter should be pretty thin at this point.
4 CUPS FLOUR 7 of 14
Lastly, add 4 cups of flour (either use self-rising flour or add 4 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt to all-purpose flour.) Sprinkle a small amount of flour at a time, stirring with each addition.
POUR BATTER 8 of 14
Pour the batter into a greased and floured 12 inch cake pan with at least 2 inch sides.
SMOOTH 9 of 14
With a rubber spatula, evenly smooth the batter (which should be fairly thick) to the sides of the pan.
ONE COIN 10 of 14
Wrap a coin (I use a silver dollar because it's large and not easy to miss) in aluminum foil. I wash the coin first, but thinking about the zillions of germy people who have touched it over the years skeeves me out, so I wrap it in foil as well as washing it.
ADD THE COIN 11 of 14
If you put the coin in right away, it'll sink to the bottom of the pan, so wait until the cake has baked for about 10 minutes and then insert it. When you place the coin, line it up so that when you cut the cake from the center out to the edges like spokes, you won't end up trying to cut the coin in half if it ends up between 2 pieces. Continue baking for a total of about 25-30 minutes.
POWDERED SUGAR 12 of 14
Remove the cake from the pan and cool on a rack. After cake is cooled, arrange on a serving plate and dust with powdered sugar.
SLICE 13 of 14
Slice the cake, serving pieces in order of oldest to youngest.
GOOD LUCK! 14 of 14
It's fun to see who will get the coin, and thus have good luck for the year. If you don't get the coin, don't despair. There's always Easter and Tsougrisma which (surprise, surprise) involves a holiday, food, and luck. And besides, you've got a piece of nice rich, dense, orangey cake to eat! I'd say that's good luck right there! Happy new year, everyone!
If you liked this, here are some more favorites from Dawn.