2017. Here we are! And to celebrate it the best way, I baked the typical new years eve cake, a Vassilopita, which is supposed to be eaten around midnight and will bring luck and protection into the house.
A little bit of history: The tradition of Vassilopita (which is an orthodox celebration) comes from Agios Vassileios’ legend (Saint Basil). In the 4th Century, the Emperor of Cesarea, a province hit by famine, threatened its inhabitants of jail time if they would fail paying their taxes. Everyone gave away their jewelry, but Vassileios brought the Emperor back to reason. He finally renounced to tax the people, and gave all he got to Vassileios, who started wondering how to give back each pieces to the right person. While he was praying, God advised him to bake a huge “pita” and to hide all the jewelry in it. Vassileios finally cut and gave a piece of the pie for each person, and every one of them got their own jewel back, with God’s help.
Today: by tradition, all families will bake a Vassilopita on the 31st of December and will cut it at Midnight. As they are making it, they will place a gold coin inside the raw pie, which symbolizes luck, freedom, health and happiness to whom will find it, and to his entire family*. The eldest person in the family will cut it: the first slice is for Jesus, the second for the Virgin Mary and the third for Vassileios. The remaining slices are for all the family members that are away, the traveler, and the poor. The slices will be distributed to the eldest to the youngest.
*And since it’s a family tradition, it’s a win-win strategy! 🙂
You’ll find an infinite amount of Vassilopita recipe, but I decided to bake my favorite, with oranges, spice,
alcohol and walnuts. We usually use almonds, but I chose walnuts instead as a nod to my Papou (grandfather) who was obsessed with it (one day, I may tell you about the walnut marathon that kept us busy in fall for many many years!)
I wish you an amazing year 2017 and here is the delicious recipe:
For a 9” spring form
2/3 cup butter • 1 cup sugar • 3 eggs• 1/2 cup freshly squeezed OJ • the zest of 1 orange • 1/4 cup cognac • 1/2 tsp de cinnamon• 1/2 tsp de powered cloves • 1/2 tsp nutmeg • 1/2 vanilla bean • 3 oz. walnuts• 1 pinch of salt • 2 cups flour • 2 tsp baking powder • confectionner’s sugar and/or chocolate for the decor • a gold coin
- Preheat the oven to 340°F.
- Separate egg white and yolks.
- In a large bowl, whisk the whites with the salt until fluffy.
- In another large bowl, beat butter and sugar until airy and fluffy.
- Add the yolks, one by one, making sure they incorporated before adding the next one.
- Pour the OJ and the cognac and add the zest, the spices and the flour.
- Gently incorporate the meringue and the walnuts.
- Hide the gold coin (or the regular coin), after boiling it a couple of times in water and vinegar.
- Bake for 35 to 40 minutes (the middle of the cake should be dry).
- Let cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan, then decorate, using sugar or chocolate to write the upcoming year on the cake.
Καλή Χρονια! Happy New Year!