New Year Vasilopita Greek Good Luck Cake (video)

New Year Vasilopita Greek Good Luck Cake, rich with crushed almonds, yogurt and a secret Greek flavoring, is loved as the ancient lucky cake!

New Year Vasilopita Good Luck Cake With Gold And A Gold Coin Inside
New Year Vasilopita Good Luck Cake With Gold And A Gold Coin Inside

Good Luck Cakes

Just about every culture around the world, has a special recipe made to start off a new year with the intention of obtaining good luck. 

Take for example the British Christmas Pudding, you know, the one written about in Dickens Christmas Carol

Somehow, they often involve a coin, representing financial good luck in the new year. 

Greek Good Luck Cake

This Greek good luck cake is one I encountered in my teens through some of my Greek friends. 

Since I grew up in some of the traditions of the Eastern Orthodox church, I enjoyed the friendships of the Greek community. 

Having purchased a cookbook put together by the ladies of the Greek church, back in the 70’s, Vasilopita cake recipe fast became my favorite cake recipe in the book, as you can  see by the stains. 

Since The 70's This Cookbook From The Greek Church Has Inspired Many Of My Recipes
Since The 70’s This Cookbook From The Greek Church Has Inspired Many Of My Recipes

However, over the years, I tweaked their original recipe, making what I believe are improvements, and now I want to share this scrumptious cake with you. 

New Year Traditions For Good Luck

Vasilopita, this traditional Greek cake, is always served on New Year’s day, which could actually start on New Year’s Eve when you’ve been up all night and are in want of a healthyish sweet treat. 

Traditionally, the family member who gets the slice of cake with the coin is said to have good luck in the coming year. 

Personally, I think a coin should be placed throughout the cake batter, and not just in the center of the cake, so that everyone has a shot at luck throughout the rest of the year. 

But then, I’m a mom and I would want to make sure each of my kids would have reason to look forward to this lucky new year’s cake!

Greek Vasilopita – A Bread-Like Cake

Within the tradition of great Greek recipes, such as Baklava or Greek Ouzo Pistachio cookies, there is a traditional sweet bread that is made for easter known as  Tsoureki, or simply Sweet Easter Bread. 

This delicious Greek bread is made with lots of eggs, sugar, milk and the same mastic flavoring that goes into vasilopita cake. 

My preference in this vasilopita cake recipe, is to use thick Greek yogurt, instead of milk, which makes for a moist texture and richer flavor. 

Mastic – Flavoring The Vasilopita New Year Cake

To some of you, mastic is probably a new flavor you’ve recently encountered through the vast information in the internet. 

However, for those of us that are of Middle Eastern heritage (as I am), or Greek, mastic is a unique flavoring used in baked goods, some savory dishes and often liquors. 

This flavor comes in the form of a resin, gum rock and needs to be crushed into a powder before using.

A mortar and pestle work fine but so does a clean rock on a hard surface, which is what I often do.

Crushing The Mastic With A Rock Is An Easy Way To Obtain The Powder Needed
Crushing The Mastic With A Rock Is An Easy Way To Obtain The Powder Needed

Greek History On Mastic Flavoring

The history of mastic dates back to the 5th century BC, where it was first known for its medicinal properties, also used in ancient Egypt for embalming, am I creeping you out? Hang in there, it gets better. 

While the Greeks claim mastic gum tree grows in the island of Chios and nowhere else in the world, I’m sure the Egyptians didn’t go to Chios just to gather resin for their embalming!

The flavor of mastic is not easy to describe, however it is most likened to a type of evergreen, which is why I use it in my Winter Forest Creme Brulee

Traditional Greek Recipes

What makes recipes traditional, is that a great recipe, or simply one with a memorable story, gets passed down from one generation to the next; tradition!

Having grown up intermingled with the Greek community (a first husband was also Greek, another story for another time), I do know a thing or two about traditional Greek recipes. 

However, I’ve come to realize that many a Mediterranean recipe resembles various other regions around the Mediterranean or throughout Asia Minor. 

Traditional Foods Of The Mediterranean

Traditionally baklava is thought of to be Greek, yet the Arabs have been making it (called Baklawa), for equally as long, and often using only honey instead of the sugar/water syrup often used on Greek baklava

Regions around the Mediterranean can all agree on Lamb as the traditional meat (unless it’s Goat), prepared in a variety of ways, with its symbolic roots stemming in Christianity and the symbol of Christ the sacrificial lamb. 

Again, rooted in Christianity, this cake was asked to be created by Saint Basil, as a way of passing out coins to the poor while still keeping their dignity in tac, deliciously too, I might add.

300 Year Old Solid 24-K Gold Coin From Venice Went Into This Cake
300 Year Old Solid 24-K Gold Coin From Venice Went Into This Cake

How To Make Vasilopita Good Luck Cake

Like many a recipe, there are numerous twists on the cake version of this recipe. 

Having come across Paul Hollywood’s Vasilopita on The Great British Bake Off, in which he asks the contestants to use his recipe, flavoring the cake with lemon juice, lemon zest, mastic and mahlab (a Middle Eastern spice), and candied orange rinds, this version is scrumptious, just not traditional. 

Traditional Greek New Year’s cake is made with only mastic as its outstanding flavor is very Greek. 

The use of a splash of vanilla extract in this recipe is merely to enhance the flavor of the mastic, as it is sometimes said that mastic resembles the flavor of vanilla, though I don’t think so. 

The Steps To Make Vasilopita

Step 1 – Bringing a lighter texture, to what could become a heavy cake batter, the egg whites are whipped light and airy, added at the end just before baking. 

Step 2 – Like most cake recipes, the egg yolks, sugar and butter are whipped together until creamy and lighter in color. 

Step 3 – Whisking in the dry ingredients, followed by the yogurt, makes the batter thick and rich, until the whipped whites are whisked in, bringing more air to the batter which changes the texture to a lighter version of a pound cake textured cake. 

Step 4 – While almond meal makes for the best flavor, texture and color to the vasilopita, finely crushed raw almonds can also be used, changing the color just a little, but the flavor is still rich from the almonds. 

Step 5 – The use of any shaped cake pan in making vasilopita works, though for this special occasion good luck cake, I used a really fancy pan. A ‘prepared pan’ for this recipe simply means to brush the pan with lots of butter and a light dusting of flour. 

Step 6 – For the sugar glaze, a licor with the same flavor as the resin in the cake can be used, but might need to be ordered from a local liquor store. You can also soak some of the crushed mastic in a small amount of boiling water (1/8), cup and use this with the icing sugar to form a glaze.

Preparing The Icing Glaze For The Vasilopita Cake
Preparing The Icing Glaze For The Vasilopita Cake

Ingredients Needed

  • Butter
  • Sugar
  • Eggs
  • Mastic (if possible) – or vanilla
  • Gold coin, silver coin or lucky coin
  • Non-stick spray
  • Measuring cup and spoons
  • A rock, or mortar and pestle – to crush the mastic resin gum
  • Large mixing bowl, plus a smaller one to whip the egg whites
  • Electric hand mixer or stand mixer.
  • Oven
  • Piping bag (optional) or simply a small painting brush to add the glaze on the baked cake
  • Edible Gold – a fun option, but other forms of cake decorating can be used
Greek Vasilopita New Year Cake Ingredients
Greek Vasilopita New Year Cake Ingredients

Equipment Needed

  • Bundt pan or fancy cake pan – this is the pan I use and was I surprised how easily the cake popped out, even with all the details in the pan!
  • Gold coin, silver coin or lucky coin
  • Non-stick spray
  • Measuring cup and spoons
  • A rock, or mortar and pestle – to crush the mastic resin gum
  • Large mixing bowl, plus a smaller one to whip the egg whites
  • Electric hand mixer or stand mixer.
  • Oven
  • Piping bag (optional) or simply a small painting brush to add the glaze on the baked cake
  • Gold – a fun option but other forms of cake decorating can be used
A Good Luck Celebration Cake For Sure!
A Good Luck Celebration Cake For Sure!
New Year Vasilopita Greek Good Luck Cake

New Year Vasilopita Greek Good Luck Cake

New Year Vasilopita Greek Good Luck Cake, rich with crushed almonds, yogurt and mastic Greek flavoring, is also loved as the lucky New Year cake!
5 from 1 vote
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Course: Cake
Cuisine: Greek
Keyword: New Year Vasilopita Greek Good Luck Cake
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 10 servings

Equipment

  • bundt pan
  • coins optional
  • edible gold or cake sprinkles optional

Ingredients

  • Vasilopita Recipe
  • 1 cup Butter soft
  • 1 1/2 cups Sugar
  • 7 Eggs separated
  • 1 tsp Mastic crushed
  • 2 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 3 cups All purpose flour
  • 3 tsp Baking powder
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup Almond meal
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Sugar Glaze Topping
  • 2 cups Powdered sugar, icing sugar
  • 2-3 tsp Mastic liqueur of Ouzo as needed

Instructions

  • Set the oven to 350. 
    In a large bowl with a stand mixer and whisk attachment, whip the egg whites until light and airy. Transfer to a separate bowl. 
  • In a large bowl with the stand mixer cream butter with sugar for 10-minutes. 
    Add egg yolks, mastic and vanilla extract to the butter mixture. 
    Sift the flour into the egg mixture along with the remaining dry ingredients. Blend until the wet ingredients is blended with the flour mixture. 
    On low speed whisk in the yogurt, followed by the whipped egg whites. 
  • Transfer to the prepared cake pan and place the coin into the cake batter. 
    Place in the preheated oven. 
    Bake for 45-minutes or until a tester comes out clean. 
    Cool completely and remove from the pan onto a wire rack. 
  • Sugar Glaze
  • Whisk the powdered sugar and enough Ouzo to form a smooth a thick creamy sugar glaze. 
    Either drizzle the sugar mixture across the cake or if the glaze is thick enough it can be piped decoratively onto the top of the cake. 
    Sprinkle particles of edible gold or cake sprinkles over the glaze before it dries.
    Remember the fun part, in that the member of the family to receive the first piece of cake with the hidden coin also receives good luck for the entire new year!

Video

Who Will Get The Gold Coin Of Good Luck In This Vasilopita Greek New Year Cake!
Who Will Get The Gold Coin Of Good Luck In This Vasilopita Greek New Year Cake!
Robin
5 1 vote
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