Vasilopita: A New Year’s cake you can share with cattle

What is Vasilopita and why is this one new? I’ll keep this short, as too much reading will require you to wait too long to bake this thing. And it’s NOT worth the wait. I mean, it absolutely is worth the wait, but you shouldn’t have to.

The New Vasilopita

This version is “new” meaning simplified from the vegan version I first created in 2007 (!). (Pardon the Drinko.) Wayyy too complicated. But you must forgive me; the OG recipe called for six eggs and I had to pull all the stops!

Moist and so tall it could play basketball!

This recipe is absolutely *perfect* for any of your yellow cake needs as well.

A history worth repeating:

Vasilopita is a traditional Greek New Year’s cake/bread, feasted on at the stroke of midnight for good luck. More from my original ’07 post (completely uncredited there, but there are a lot of versions):

“It is made in honor of a beautiful act of charity by St. Basil to the poor and needy of his flock. In order to insure that the needy would have money for life’s necessities, and knowing that the needy were also proud people, St. Basil had the ladies of his church bake sweet bread with coins baked into them. In this way he could give them money without demeaning them at all. It is therefore traditional to bake a coin into the Vasilopita (St. Basil’s Bread). The one who receives the coin is considered to be especially blessed for the year…”

Further, some important distro instructions:

“The cake is distributed in accordance to a strict order. First piece is for St Basil, the second for the house, the next for the most senior member of the household down to the youngest member and also including absent members. There may also be a piece of cake for the cattle and a large piece for the poor.”

As I said 13 years ago, the vegan in me loves that the cow is included (even though it’s paying for the cow’s utility to humans … ah, stop older jaded Eleni!!)

Instructions

What makes this cake so moist, fluffy, and delicious are the combinations of liquids and flavors of each of those liquid ingredients – in the cake, you will detect hints of vanilla and orange, tempering the cake’s sweetness.

Summary

  • Total bake time: 80+ minutes depending on cake size/oven temp. Budget 1.5-2 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  • Grease a 9.5″ springfoam pan. This is the exact pan I’ve used the last couple of years. You can also use a 10″ baking pan plus a few extra muffin tins for cupcakes, but you will need to reduce the baking time by about 30-40 minutes total since it won’t be as tall and require as much time.

All ingredients for your list

  • 1 cup earth balance butter (or Miyokos!)
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 3 cups all purpose white flour + 1 T corn starch (optional, to make it cake flour)
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/4 cup aquafaba (just like eggs! The liquid from chickpeas – you can sub with OJ or Coconut Milk – but recommend you try it)
  • 1/2 cup plain non-dairy yogurt (I use Silk Vanilla Soy, available at Target – the best!)
  • 1/4 cup Orange Juice
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk (from can — I use both the fat coagulated part and watery part mixed)
  • 1 cup warm soymilk (does it really need to be warm? No idea. I warm it per an initial recipe – other recipes also require this. Try not warming it and report back!)
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • ¼ cup pre-sliced almonds (ground works too)
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 squeaky clean coin that will most likely end up in one of your guest’s mouths

That’s all you will need.

Pre-bake Steps!

  1. CREAM the earth balance and sugar.
  2. STIR IN the flour + cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until mealy.
  3. Heat the soy milk.
  4. In the meantime, in a separate bowl for the liquids, mix the aquafaba until frothy*
  5. To this mix, whisk in the non-dairy yogurt of choice, orange juice, coconut milk, lemon juice, then warmed soy milk.
  6. GENTLY STIR IN WET INGREDIENTS TO DRY* until just combined then POUR into your oiled pan(s).

* Tip 1: I only whisked the aquafaba until frothy rather than until stiff peaks formed, and it still worked great.

* Tip 2: It should still be lumpy like this when you pour it into your pan:

Not Vasilopita at its prettiest. But a necessary point.

Baking steps!

I adjusted the baking times from my original recipe quite a bit to accommodate my new taller cake. You may find your oven varies, but as long as you pay attention to the firmness of the cake as outlined it should be fine. My version did not get too crispy on the edges despite the long baking time.

  1. BAKE for 45 minutes uncovered.
  2. While baking, make the topping by stirring together the almonds and brown sugar.
  3. Remove cake. If still wobbly and wet in the center, bake for another 15-20 minutes before adding topping. Once cake is semi-firm but still a little unset, sprinkle the topping over the cake.
  4. BAKE for an additional 30 minutes, until center is set and a knife goes through the center and emerges clean. If still not set, turn the oven down to about 300 and bake for another 20 minutes.
  5. Remove, and while warm gently place a clean coin into the cake and cover with the sugar.
  6. Cool on the rack for 10 minutes before releasing from the springfoam. I remove the sides but keep the bottom part and just carefully cut the cake with the bottom in place.
  7. Be sure to get dental insurance for the person who discovers the coin.

Also, per my Uncle Aris, the traditional card game to play for New Year’s eve in Greece is 31. We played that to usher in 2020, and it was so much fun.  After years of going out to New Year’s parties/events, I found they were always a disappointment. Staying home, boozing and Vasilopita-ing up, is the best way to celebrate this holiday, especially with friends.

Happy 2020 everyone! While you’re at it, start with this cake then maybe trial-run the vegan style for January? Link: Veganuary).

Goodnight, cake.


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