The biggest Greek New Years tradition, is the baking and cutting of the Vasilopita! It is the St. Basil’s cake. There is a hidden coin, called a flouri in it, and when we cut the cake, the winner of that coin is granted good luck for the new year.
This day is observed for our Holy Church Father Saint Basil the Great, who was the Archbishop of Caesarea, in Cappadocia.
The legend is as follows. One year during a terrible famine, the emperor burdened the impoverished citizens of Caesarea, with a very heavy tax. People were forced to give up whatever little that they had. St. Basil took charge, and made the emperor repent for this sin and return the tax payments. But now he had to redistribute the goods to the various households. He baked pites (bread, or cake or pie) and hid the various jewels and coins inside. Then gave one to each home, and by some miracle everyone’s belongings had been returned to their rightful owners. Hence the tradition of the vasilopita.
The cake is very easy to make! Enjoy and I wish you a very happy and healthy new year!
1 cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 cup extra-virgin Greek olive oil
Juice & zest of 2 oranges
2 Tbsp. Greek yogurt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup of finely chopped blanched almonds
1/4 cup of brandy or cognac
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup powdered sugar, for garnish
This is easy. Think of it as a dump cake, where you just add all the ingredients into the machine, or by hand, and just start mixing it together. If you are whisking by hand, start with the wet ingredients and add in the dry.
Add in the almonds at the end.
Butter and flour a springform pan. Pour in your batter. Add in a flouri (a coin wrapped in aluminum or parchment), and bake the cake for 1 hour at 325 F.
Let it cool and garnish with powdered sugar. You can decorate it any which way you please!