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Vasilopita - Greek New Year's Sweet Bread

2 min read

Vasilopita - Greek New Year's Sweet Bread

As a special treat, we’re sharing our recipe for traditional Greek New Year’s cake, vasilópita, named after Saint Basil, whom we celebrate on New Year’s Day. This sweet bread has a coin, a flourí, hidden in it and the custom is for families to cut enough pieces for everyone present on New Year’s Eve, as well as a piece for the home and one for the Virgin Mary. Everyone then takes their piece and if they find the coin, they’ll have good luck for the entire year. Have fun seeing who will get the flourí at your New Year’s Eve party this year!

Ingredients to make Vasilopita

1 lb all purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

2 tbsp dry yeast

1/2 cup butter, melted

3/4 cup sugar

1 tsp orange peel

1 tsp lemon peel

1/2 cup hot milk

3 eggs

1 egg yolk, lightly beaten to baste

the bread

Blanched almond slices or sesame seed to sprinkle on the bread as decoration

How to make Vasilopita

Mix the flour with the salt.

Dilute the yeast in 4 tbsp of hot water. Mix in 1-2 tbsps of flour to make a thick paste and put it aside for 10 minutes until it bubbles. If you don’t see bubbles, your yeast is likely stale and you should try again with a fresh pack. In a large mixing bowl, blend the sugar, peels, and the hot milk. Add the eggs and mix with your fingers to break the yolks and blend.

Add the yeast mixture and 1/3 of the flour, mixing lightly with your hands. Add another 1/3 of the flour, mixing lightly, and then the final 1/3 of the flour, mixing just enough to get a smooth dough.

Add 1/3 of the melted butter and fold the dough over the butter; repeat two more times, folding the dough over each time you add the melted butter. The butter won’t be absorbed but don’t worry, it will blend in with the dough as it rises.

Cover the bowl with a dish towel and leave it in a warm place, allowing it to rise for about an hour, until it’s doubled in size.

Knead the dough a few times and shape it into a single large round loaf or break up into smaller ones if you want. Wrap a small coin in wax or parchment paper and insert in to the loaf, making sure it’s not visible from the outside (we don’t want any cheating when the time comes to cut the pieces!).

Cover your loaf or loaves and let them rise again until they double, which will probably take around half an hour.

Preheat your oven to 400F.

Transfer the loaves to a baking sheet, and brush the tops with the beaten egg yolk. Decorate with sliced almonds or sesame seed.

Bake for around half an hour until golden brown. Cool on a rack and store in a plastic bag to keep fresh and moist. Enjoy!

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