Vasilopita (Βασιλόπιτα, Vasilópita means ‘(St.) Basil’s pie’ or ‘King pie’ and is a traditional New Year’s Day cake for the people of Cyprus (where my family are originally from) and Greece as well as other areas in eastern Europe and the Balkans.
The cake (for us), is usually a light, yogurt and orange cake and traditionally contains a hidden coin within it’s sponge, a token of good luck to the recipient for the year ahead.
As Saint Basil’s Day is on January 1st, my mother Vasoulla’s namesake (Vasoulla is the female equivalent of Basil) we always mark the occasion on New Year’s Day.
My mother told me that growing up, her name day took precedence over her actual birthday and would be celebrated every year with gifts and this very special name day cake.
It’s a special tradition for us as a family and as with previous years, our close family friend Andy did the honours and baked this delicious cake.
This is his recipe, below.
Do make it whatever the time of year though, it’s fluffy, zesty and totally scrumptious. Perfect with hot tea or a strong Greek coffee any time of day but we’ve been enjoying slices since for breakfast.
Using a 9×4 inch tin
1 cup butter/margarine
1 cup Greek yoghurt
1 cup caster sugar
3 1/2 cups self raising flour, seived
2 tsps baking powder
Zest of one orange
5 medium free range eggs
Preheat oven 180 f
Separate yolks from the whites. In a large bowl, whisk margarine with sugar until fluffy. Add zest of the orange.
Add the egg yolks. Whisk then add the yogurt and whisk. Sieve the flour little by little and whisk. Add the baking powder and stir.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites into a mixture. Folk the meringue into the mixture until uniform.
Place in the oven and bake for an hour.
Traditionally a disinfected pound (or wrap the pound in foil) is placed into the mixture or even discreetly once baked via the base of the cake, and those who find it are said to have a lucky year ahead.
Happy New Year!