Vasilopita Cake Recipe (Greek New Year’s cake)
Posted in Baked, Beginner, Desserts, Intermediate, Mainland Greece, Our hand picked recipes, Traditional Greek Christmas Recipes Originally published on December 7, 2013 Last updated on December 18, 2016 By Eli K. Giannopoulos
A delicious vasilopita recipe, infused with the aromas and blends of oranges and garnished with a thick and glossy vanilla scented sugar glaze! Vasilopita is a traditional Greek cake or bread served at midnight on New Year’s Eve to celebrate the life of Saint Basil. After baking the vasilopita cake, a coin is inserted through the base and when cut the person who finds the coin is said to be granted luck for the rest of the year! Vasilopita is made of a variety of doughs, depending on the region and almost every family has it’s own recipe. The most popular vasilopita recipes are either made with tsoureki dough or like a cake. This is my family’s vasilopita recipe with which we welcome the New Year with friends and loved ones for over 30 years. Hope you enjoy it!
Vasilopita recipe – How to make the perfect Greek New Year’s cake!
Once starting to prepare this vasilopita recipe, make sure that your butter is at room temperature before using. It is very important to mix the butter and sugar thoroughly until the butter is really fluffy and creamy, like whipped cream, and the sugar has dissolved. Give this step some extra time and the result will definitely reward you.
In many vasilopita recipes, the eggs are added whole to the cake mixture but with this recipe the egg whites are beaten into meringues and combined towards the end with the rest of the dough. This is the secret to a more fluffy and airy vasilopita. To avoid the egg-y smell, which can ruin the flavour of your vasilopita, add the egg yolks one at a time, allowing each one to be absorbed from the mixture. Once done mixing the rest of the ingredients, use a marise spatula to incorporate the flour and the meringue. Using an electric mixer will result the vasilopita to loose it’s fluffiness. Just add the flour (sifted) and the meringue and blend with light circular movements, trying not to overwork the dough. Also very important is not to open the oven under no circumstances, before 30 minutes of baking, as this will result your vasilopita to deflate. Finally don’t forget to insert the coin through the base of the cake!
If you prefer to make a vasilopita using a tsoureki dough, here is a no fail tsoureki recipe, for you to succeed on your first time. Oh and you can always read this delicious recipe in Greek here Συνταγή για Βασιλόπιτα κέικ. Enjoy!
For the vasilopita
- 375g butter (13 ounces)
- 3 cups sugar
- 6 eggs (divided into yolks and whites)
- a pinch of salt
- zest of 2 oranges
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 200g yogurt, strained (7 ounces)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 750g self-rising flour, sifted (26.5 ounces)
For the glaze
- 3 cups icing sugar
- 3 tbsps hot water or milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- To prepare this vasilopita recipe, start by dividing the eggs into yolks and whites. Place the egg whites in the bowl of the electric mixer, along with a pinch of salt. Make sure your egg whites, bowl and whisk attachments are clean and free of any water. Whisk the egg whites until the mixture is very thick and glossy and a long trailing peak forms when the whisk is lifted (meringues). Place the mixture in a bowl and set aside.
- Use the electric mixer, to mix the butter and sugar, for about 20 minutes, until the butter is creamy and fluffy, like whipped cream. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, whilst mixing, allowing time for each one to be absorbed, before adding another. Pour in the orange juice, the vanilla extract, the orange zest, the yogurt and mix to combine. Add 1/3 of the sifted flour and blend, using a maryse spatula. Add 1/3 of the meringues and blend with light circular movements from the bottom up. Repeat with the rest of the flour and meringue (adding 1/3 of the flour and 1/3 meringue and then the remaining flour and meringue).
- To bake the vasilopita, preheat the oven to 200C (both top and bottom heating elements on). Butter the bottom and sides of a round non-sticking cake tin (approx.32cm diameter) and pour in the mixture. Place the cake tin in the preheated oven, on the lower rack, turn the heat down to 175C and bake for 50-60 minutes, until nicely coloured and cooked through. Check if the vasilopita is ready, by sticking in the middle of the cake a wooden skewer or toothpick. If it comes out clean, then the cake is ready.
- Let the vasilopita cool down (otherwise it will break) and invert the pan on a plate. Wrap a coin with aluminium foil and stick it in the cake. Invert the vasilopita on a serving platter.
- Prepare the glaze for the vasilopita. In a large bowl add all the ingredients and blend with a spatula to combine, until the glaze is smooth and and glossy. Add a little bit more hot water, if needed (the glaze should be like a thin cream). Top the vasilopita with the glaze and even out with a spatula. Don’t forget to carve the number of the year on top of the glaze! Enjoy!