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Vasilopita (AKA St. Basil's Day Cake)

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Eclecticisms: Vasilopita (AKA St. Basil's Day Cake)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Vasilopita (AKA St. Basil's Day Cake)

I decided awhile ago that I really wanted to have a quiet New Year's Eve this year (well... last year, now). Early this week I started looking up traditional New Year's recipes and invited my family to come by for a homemade dinner. Nothing super fancy, but I wanted to try out a couple new recipes and do something other than sit on my butt all night.

While looking for recipes, two kept popping up. St Basil's Day Cake (Vasilopita) and black eyed peas. (BEP will have to be something I try next year... it just all seemed too involved by the time I started looking at recipes for them.) I knew about the hiding of trinkets/good luck charms in food, but had never done it myself. This was the perfect opportunity to give it a try! After telling my Mom I'd decided to bake this cake, she let me know that she had charms from England that my Aunt had given her, for that very purpose. Obviously, this cake was meant to be. (I think these charms were more for pudding, as most recipes I found called for a gold coin. I thought 6 charms would make it more interesting though.) It blew my mind at how many variations there are out there on the actual recipe as well, so I went with one that looked basic enough and had a good rating. After all, I had absolutely no idea what this was supposed to even taste like, so I put my trust in the raters hands. It worked.

Epicurious has a neat blog about New Year's food. Check it out!

The recipe I chose was from

1 cup butter, softened
1 3/4 cups white sugar
5 eggs
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup blanched slivered almonds
2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Heat your oven to 325 degrees. In your mixer, blend together the butter and sugar.

Add 2 whole eggs to the butter mixture. Seperate the remaining 3 eggs and add only the yolks, putting the whites to the side.

Stir in the vanilla and water.

In a seperate bowl, sift together the baking powder and flour. Gradually add the dry mixture into the batter.

At this point, the batter seemed very dry- more like a cookie dough. The next step will bring you back to a true batter consistency.Whip the egg whites you've set aside until they are foamy. Add 1 Tbsp sugar and continue to whip the whites until they are stiff. The recipe says "stiff, but not dry". Honestly, I've never known if I'm beating the egg white enough or too much. It's something I have to have someone demonstrate the difference for me, so I'll finally get it! Now, fold the egg whites into your batter.
Grease a 10 x 14 inch tube pan. I sprinkled sesame seeds on the bottom, just to add a bit more of that lovely sesame taste to the cake.

Pour the batter into the pan. Wrap charms in foil (mine came with something to wrap them in) and push them down into the cake batter.

Charms, from left to right:
Thimble of blessedness (Brian got it!)
Horseshoe (I got that one!)
Bachelor Buttom (My uh, Mom got that one...)
Coin of fortune
Bethrothal Bell (Sara got it!)

Until the rest of the cake is eaten, we won't know who will get the wishbone or coin. I'm kind of excited to see who gets them though!

Sprinkle the sesame seeds and almonds (I did almonds on a little less than half the cake, as we don't all like nuts) onto the batter.

Bake the cake for 70 minutes (I gave mine an extra 5, to be safe) and let cool in the pan. Slide a knife around the edges to loosen the cake a bit before trying to take it out of the pan. I also used a spatula to pry it out, as it was sticking to the bottom a bit. It came out pretty good though!
Now, enjoy! (And cross your fingers that you get a charm like Brian did!)

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At January 2, 2011 at 8:32 AM , Blogger Leslie said...

Happy New Year!!! I'm glad that you had a good one - and I miss you! P.S. The cake looks delicious and not too sweet.

At January 2, 2011 at 8:32 AM , Blogger Leslie said...

I just noticed you got a new header - I love it!!


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