Numerous recipes and styles abound for the traditional New Year’s bread or cake called Vasilopita, named after St. Basil who was known to bake coins inside breads and pass them out to underprivileged people when he lived.
All the way in Cyprus, we tracked down a wonderful recipe from Afrodite’s Kitchen, a popular food blogger born in Canada, raised and educated in London and now, living “home” in Cyprus.
Afrodite’s Kitchen Vasilopita is a moist, tasty cake with a dose of brandy that gives it a kick that other traditional cakes don’t have and of you don’t have a spare bottle of brandy laying around, she says you can easily substitute it with bourbon for the same flavorful impact.
PS— don’t forget to add the good luck coin!
3/4 cup unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
1 & 1/2Tbsp orange zest
1/2 Tbsp lemon zest
3 & 1/2 Tbsp brandy
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup orange juice
3 cups all purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
icing sugar and/or coconut shavings for topping (optional)
1.Preheat the oven to 176C/350F. Grease and flour an 10 inch circular pan, line the bottom with parchment paper.
2. With a mixer, beat the butter and sugar well. This will take around 10 minutes on a high setting. The mixture has to change to a very pale yellow colour.
3. Add all the eggs, one egg at a time, ensuring that it has been incorporated into the batter before adding the next egg.
4. Add the brandy and vanilla and mix until incorporated. Add the orange and lemon zests. Don’t worry if your batter begins to curdle at this stage.
5. Stir the baking powder and flour together.
6. Next add the orange juice and flour, alternating with small amounts of each as you add these ingredients, starting and ending with flour.
7. Pour the batter into the pan. If adding a coin into the cake, tightly wrap the coin in plastic wrap, and drop it into the batter. Ensure the top of the batter is smooth so that it is not obvious where the coin has been dropped.
8. Place in the oven for 60 minutes. Test the center of the cake with a toothpick after 60 minutes to ensure it is cooked. Remove and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and let cool on a cooling rack.
9. If you wish, dust icing sugar and coconut flakes on top before serving.
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