Greece has a wonderful tradition of making a cake with a hidden coin and cutting it on New Year’s Eve. The “Vasilopita” commemorates a miracle performed by St. Basil while serving as a bishop. The legend varies as to how St. Basil became the guardian of all the gold, silver, and jewelry of Caesarea. There became much confusion upon returning the riches, and everyone began to get upset. St. Basil suggested that the women bake cakes and put the coins inside. When the cakes were cut, everyone found the exact money they were due!
Today a single coin is baked into each cake to remember the miracle, and whomever finds the coin is considered blessed for the new year! Cool, eh?
So, anytime a family or group is gathered (on New Years or following weeks after) they cut a Vasilopita. First, the cake is given the sign of the cross with three fingers (representing the Trinity) for a blessing. Second, the first three pieces are always cut 1st for Christ, 2nd for Mary, 3rd for St. Basil. Next follows with the eldest family members or honored guests. It is always very exciting for the blessed person finding the coin!
This year I made our Vasilopita Cake, and it was delicious!!! We toasted with some champagne and enjoyed bringing the new coming year with a touch of sweetness.
All the way from Lesvos, Greece … we wish you a very blessed New Year 2011. May you strive to be the person God has made you to be, may He lead you in each step you take, may you listen closely for His voice and follow, may you choose to find the love, joy, peace, and patience in everything God allows to come across your path, and may this build your faith and wisdom every day of 2011. Our coin was in Christ’s piece, I guess that means we will all be blessed this year as long as we are following Him!
Vasilopita Recipe (Makes one large round cake or two smaller cakes)
4 cups flour, sifted (I use 1/2 cups whole wheat)
2 T. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon or all spice
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1-2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups milk
zest of 1 lemon or orange
1 coin (cleaned and wrapped in foil)
Preheat oven to 350°F and butter or line your round cake pan. Sift dry ingredients in small bowl and cream butter and sugar in another bowl. Add eggs to sugar mixture gradually, then stirring in vanilla and zest. Alternately mix in the dry ingredients with the milk, beginning and ending with the milk. Bake for 40-45 minutes, remove and cool on rack. Decorate with powdered sugar and or icing.