Vasilopita is the Greek New Year’s cake. On New Year’s Day families cut the Vasilopita to bless the house and bring good luck for the new year. It is traditional to bake a coin into the Vasilopita. The one who receives the coin is considered to be especially blessed for the year. A piece of cake is sliced for each member of the family and any visitors present at the time.
1 cup fresh milk
2 teaspoons yeast
4 eggs, separated
1 cup milk-butter, melted
1 ½ cup sugar
1 envelope mahlepi, crushed
Zest of 1 lemon
1 level teaspoon salt
A handful of blanched almonds
Preheat oven to 180c
• In a large tub pour half a cup of lukewarm milk and dissolve the yeast in it. Add ½ cup flour and stir to mix. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place for about an hour.
• While the dough is rising, beat the egg yokes with the sugar in an electric mixer or food processor and set aside. Beat the egg whites into a meringue. To the risen dough, add yoke/sugar mixture, the remainder of the milk, the meringue, butter, mahlepi and zest. Knead until all is well mixed, adding the remainder of the flour a little at a time so the dough won’t be too tight. Shape the dough into several balls, place in a bowl, cover it with a towel and leave in a warm place for about 3 hours until it doubles in size.
• Knead the dough for 5 minutes more and place in a large round oiled pan (or two smaller ones) and leave covered in a warm place until it doubles in size again.
• Before placing in the oven beat the yoke of 1 egg with a teaspoon of water and brush it on the dough with a pastry brush. Then, using the blanched almonds, form the “new” date on the top of the dough. Bake for about 30/40 minutes, or until Vasilopita looks well browned.