When the clock strikes 12:01 into the New Year or any time on New Year’s Day, many Greeks will slice into a vasilopita, a New Year’s cake made with the typical fixings of a cake (flour, sugar, eggs), and spiced with orange juice or the baker’s choice of add ins (raisins, walnuts, mastiha are all common). A layer of powdered sugar dusts the top of the cake once cooled. Traditionally, a coin is inserted into the cake either before or after baking. When it comes time to serve, the fortunate individual who finds a coin in their slice (careful when eating!), will have luck for the rest of the year. Happy New Year! καλή χρόνια
½ cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
½ cup canola oil or vegetable oil
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 ½ cups orange juice (preferably fresh if available)
1 orange zest
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon nutmeg
Powdered sugar, for dusting
1. Preheat oven to 350F (177C). Grease two 9 inch round cake pans, or one large 12 inch springform cake pan. You can also line the pans with wax or parchment paper.
2. In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter, oil, and sugar until light and fluffy.
3. Add eggs in one at a time and mix together. Then, mix in the orange juice, orange zest and vanilla.
4. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and nutmeg. Slowly incorporate flour into the wet ingredients with mixer on a low speed. Use a spatula if necessary, so you are careful not to over mix. The dough should be smooth and not too sticky.
5. Pour batter into pre greased pans.
If adding a coin for New Year’s, you can either do so before or after baking. If doing so before: wrap a cleaned coin in aluminum foil. Using a knife, make an indentation into the batter and insert a coin into each cake pan, and then smooth top so the coin remains hidden. If using one large pan, you can simply mix the coin in with the dough before pouring into the pan.
6. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a thin knife or toothpick inserted comes out clean and the cake is springy to the touch.
7. Allow cake to cool at least 10 minutes before removing it from the pan. If adding a coin for after baking: invert the cake onto a wire rack. Wrap a coin in aluminum foil and insert it into the cake by slicing into cake with a long, thin knife.
8. Flip back over and dust the top with powdered sugar. If preferred, add a design or number of the year by using stencils or paper cut outs. You can even decorate the cake with pomegranates, sliced almonds, or frosting.