Vasilopita is a traditional cake that is served on New Years Day. There is often a coin placed inside of it (wrapped in foil) and the cake is sliced and divided among guests. The person who finds the lucky coin is said to have good luck in the new year.
I absolutely love this fun tradition and have been the lucky recipient of the lucky coin a few times in the past!
A bit of background on Vasilopita
Vasilopita translates to “King’s Pie” but has come to be known as “Basil’s Pie” after Saint Basil who is celebrated on January 1st each year. The form of Vasilopita can differ from home to home (and region to region in Greece and Cyprus). It is most often in the form of a cake similar to the one I am sharing or a bread.
Whether bread or cake, the tradition of hiding a coin in the Vasilopita is consistent. Just after midnight on New Years night, the cake is divided among guests, beginning with the most senior guest and ending with the most junior. Everyone then begins to dig into their slice, looking for the coin. If you find it, you have a lucky year ahead of you! Or so the story goes anyway.
Tips for making your cake
Today I am sharing my mom’s recipe for Vasilopita! The recipe is easy to do but I highly recommend some prep work before you begin. I find it helpful to measure out my ingredients beforehand so that I can work more quickly.
Once the cake is cooled completely, I hide a coin covered with tin foil is somewhere in the cake. Then I dust it completely with powdered sugar so that no one will know where it is!
You can serve the cake just like that or decorate it with the numbers of the new year (which I often do). That’s it! Wait for midnight and then dig in!
Bon appetit and Happy New Year!
Vasilopita (Greek New Years Cake)
- 6 eggs yolks and whites separated
- 3 cups flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 lemon zested
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 coin covered in foil
- powdered sugar
- candies or numbered candles to show the numbers of the new year (optional)
- Preheat your oven to 350F and line the bottom of a cake pan with parchment paper. Prepare your ingredients as follows: 1) separate the egg yolks and whites. Place the yolks in the bowl of a stand mixer. Place the whites in a separate. 2) In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and lemon zest. Set aside.
- Mix the egg yolks and sugar to combine them. Then add vanilla and oil and mix everything together.
- Beat the egg whites with a hand mixer until they form a meringue (the egg whites should be airy and hold their shape).
- Slowly add the meringue and flour mix to the egg yolk mixture a little bit at a time, alternating between the two. Transfer to the cake pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until it turns a nice golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Once removed from the oven, remove from pan and transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Once it is completely cooled, dust it with powdered sugar. Decorate if you wish.