Desserts

Vasilopita –The Greek Lucky New Year’s Cake-

Greek Lucky New Years Cake Vasilopita.

New year’s eve is approaching and apart from the food and drink, the Vasilopita is the center of attention. Vasilopita pronounced vah-see-LO-pee-tah, is the Greek lucky new year’s cake that has a coin hidden in it and is cut at midnight. It is tradition for each family to have their own vasilopita and a piece is cut for each family member. If the coin is in your piece you supposedly have good luck for the rest of the year.

I remember all the kids were so excited when vasilopita time came, we all wanted to get the lucky coin. Once we had our piece we would break it up to see if we had the coin, if not we still got to enjoy the tasty cake. Nowadays, I enjoy it much more the next day with a cup of coffee.

Vasilopita is not only cut in families, businesses, clubs, associations and ministries all have vasilopites that they cut during the first few weeks of the year. The concept of the coin applies to all the employees and members and is attached to a larger gift such as a television.

How to Cut a Vasilopita

On New Year’s Eve when the clock strikes 12, after everyone wishes each other a new year it is time for cutting the vasilopita. Traditionally there is a religious aspect, so the host of the house is the one who cuts the cake. The first piece is for Christ, the second for the virgin Mary, the third for the house and then follows a piece for the hosts, following by the oldest relatives and moving to the youngest. If a family member is away on a trip they are also included. We also included our pets.

If you are celebrating New Years’ s with friends and you are cutting a vasilopita, they all should get pieces. Anyone who is present at the gathering should get a piece.

Vasilopita is not only cut in families, but also businesses, clubs, associations and ministries. All have vasilopites that they cut during the first few weeks of the year. The concept of the coin applies to all the employees and members and is attached to a larger gift such as a television.

The Vasilopita Coin

Typically a gold plated coin or a silver coin will be inserted in the Vasilopita, there are coins made and sold just for that reason. Whoever gets the coin, not only gets to enjoy good luck for the whole year, but they also get some sort of gift such as money and/or a charm.

Vasilopita Ingredients

Vasilopita is a moist cake made with ingredients everyone has at home: sugar, flour, eggs, milk and orange. There is another more bread-like version made with yeast, which is a bit, more time consuming, but in our family we make and like the cake version. Now obviously this is not a particularly healthy recipe, what with the butter, but you usually enjoy only one small piece and if you have leftovers you can enjoy it over the next few days with coffee or tea.

This vasilopita recipe is slightly lighter than the traditional Vasilopita, and is the one my mom has been making since I was a little girl. It is a slightly modified version of the one in the Hrysa Paradisi cookbook. So while it contains the basic components sugar-flour-butter, it uses orange juice instead milk, it contains less eggs than the typical vasilopita with only 3 eggs as opposed to 6 eggs in other recipes. I also have modified it a bit more by reducing the sugar by ¼ cup, and you could probably reduce it by another ¼ cup without affecting the texture too much.

Greek Lucky New Years Cake Vasilopita.

Baking Tips for Vasilopita

The baking can be a bit tricky, as this cake is a bit moist. Don’t open the oven before it is ready and test with a toothpick or knife all the way to the bottom of the cake to make sure it is done. You can take a small coin, wrap it in aluminum foil, dip it in flour and put it in the batter, or you may once the cake is baked, push the coin from the bottom of the cake while the cake is slightly warm.

Olive Oil Instead of Butter?

I mix it up and sometimes make the classic vasilopita, while other times I make an olive oil-lemon flavored vasilopita. See the post below:

This recipe may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases, which means that I’ll earn a small commission if you purchase through these links (at no cost to you).

Vasilopita –The Greek Lucky New Year’s Cake

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
A traditional Greek Lucky New Year’s Cake with a lucky coin made with sugar, butter and flour.
Course: Dessert, holiday
Cuisine: Greek, Mediterranean
Keyword: Vasilopita Greek New Year’s Cake
Servings: 16
Calories: 290kcal
Author: Elena Paravantes RDN
Print Recipe Pin Recipe

Ingredients

  • 4 cups (480 g) flour
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 ¾ cup (350 g) sugar
  • 1 cup (227 g) butter, softened
  • 1 ½ cup orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • Powdered Sugar

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven at at about 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).
  • Line the base of a 9-10 inch springform pan with wax paper and grease the sides.(You can use an even wider pan for a thinner cake-it will take less time to bake)
  • In a bowl mix the flour and baking powder and set aside.
  • In a bowl, cream the sugar and butter.
  • Add the orange juice, vanilla and orange zest- mix with a mixer about 2 minutes.
  • Whip the eggs in a small bowl and add to the butter mixture and mix for another 2 minutes.
  • Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix for 2 minutes at low speed-do not over mix. If you are adding the coin in the batter, add it now.
  • Pour batter (it will be thick) in the pan, smoothing the top with a spatula.
  • Bake for about 45-60 minutes. Check with a thin sharp knife in the center, it should come out clean. If not bake for additional time.
  • Remove from oven and let cool completely.
  • Release the pan and turn cake upside-down on another plate. If putting the coin in now, wrap in foil and push it through the cake. Turn cake back on top and sprinkle with powdered sugar, you can also even out the top of the cake slicing with a long knife. You can make a design using paper cut outs or using almonds or raisins or you can ice the cake with a simple icing made with powdered sugar and water. Make sure you have a lucky charm for the person who will get the coin in their piece.
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Vasilopita Greek New Year's Cake

Photos by Elena Paravantes All Rights Reserved

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52 Comments

  • Reply Dean January 1, 2019 at 8:18 am

    Used this recipe this year and I can say this is the best one I’ve done. Multiple complements. Seems lighter than previous ones, which results in an little less guilt when eating it! Thank you very much for sharing this with us! Kali Xronia!

  • Reply Lucky Food Party Ideas: Partying Cross-Culturally in 2019 - Komorebipost January 2, 2019 at 2:16 pm

    […] Long noodles symbolize longevity in Japan and fish is believed to be lucky in many countries. Greek Vasilopita is a very popular dish to include, with the added fun of the lucky coin hidden within the bread. […]

  • Reply Jenny January 6, 2019 at 10:50 pm

    Elena, thank you for sharing your recipe! I quickly made this at 10pm last night to cut this morning in Sunday school class today. It was a bit with the kids and parents too! Thanks again and Happy New Year! Καλή χρονιά!

    • Reply Jenny January 6, 2019 at 10:52 pm

      I meant to say “it was a hit!”

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN January 8, 2019 at 7:44 am

      Thank you for sharing Jenny! Happy New Year

  • Reply Jenn Djordjevic January 7, 2019 at 8:55 pm

    I’m so excited to try this – I just now remembered I have to make this cake for my son’s school. (Why oh why do I sign up for these things! LOL) and was scrambling for a recipe. Will give this a try. The comments look great and I love that you used orange juice instead of milk. Neat!

  • Reply Lucky Foods for a Lucky Year (PLUS 3 to Skip!) – Food + Movement October 23, 2019 at 12:43 pm

    […] of mine from a traditional Greek family.  Every year his mom would bake a cake (called vasilopita) with a coin baked in.  Whoever got the coin was said to have good luck in the new year (and […]

  • Reply Kate November 28, 2019 at 5:57 am

    Thank you Elena, This is my go to vasilopita recipe, works every time!!5 stars

  • Reply Tv December 31, 2019 at 12:15 am

    The 1 and 3/4 cup sugar is regular sugar, right? Not powdered. Thanks!

  • Reply Maria Christodoulou January 1, 2020 at 10:55 am

    Happy New Year 2020. We’ve just cut our Vasilopita using this recipe. It’s delicious with a fresh zesty orange flavour, and moist texture. It looks beautiful-it rose well. I decoration is 2020 written in almonds. This was the best recipe I’ve used. Thank you

  • Reply Maria January 1, 2020 at 11:29 am

    Thank you Elena and Happy New Year! This was an easy and tasty recipe, reminded me of my yiayias.5 stars

  • Reply Georgia December 28, 2020 at 8:01 pm

    I tested this last night and came out perfect!5 stars

  • Reply Susan Armour Seidman December 29, 2020 at 8:30 pm

    I’m not Greek, but I love good food and plan on trying this. I love the substitution of olive oil for butter. One question, with the yogurt and almond powder, are the ounces by volume or weight?

  • Reply anne December 31, 2020 at 12:02 am

    Is the butter unsalted or salted?

  • Reply Tina December 31, 2020 at 3:28 am

    Is 2 tablespoon sugar baking powder correct? Sounds like a lot

  • Reply 8 lucky New Year’s foods from around the world – Western Capital News December 31, 2020 at 4:06 pm

    […] the Greeks, vasilopita is the dessert you should have on the table. Greek-American nutritionist Elena Paravantes describes this dish as a moist cake made with traditional ingredients like sugar, milk, eggs, and […]

  • Reply Maria December 31, 2020 at 6:19 pm

    Your website is fantastic! Your recipes never disappoint, this one included!5 stars

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