On New Year’s Day families cut the Basilopita to bless the house and bring good luck for the new year. This is usually done at the midnight of New Year’s Eve. A coin is hidden in the bread by slipping it into the dough before baking. At midnight the sign of the cross is etched with a knife across the cake. A piece of cake is sliced for each member of the family and any visitors present at the time, by order of age from eldest to youngest. Slices are also cut for various symbolic people or groups, depending on local and family tradition. They may include the Lord, the poor, the household. Tradition follows that the one whose piece has the foil wrapped coin in it, will have good luck during the year.
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 40 mins
2.75 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
pinch of salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
4 eggs, separated
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tsp. orange zest
1 tsp. vanilla extract (or powder)
1 foil-wrapped coin
Icing sugar, almond flakes or whole cloves (for decorating)
- Preheat the oven to 180 C and grease a 23cm or 25cm spring form cake pan.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together; and set aside.
- Beat the butter on its own until creamy, and then add the sugar and beat until fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time, until just incorporated. Beat in the orange juice, zest, and vanilla. Stir in a little more than half the flour.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites on medium-high until they form between medium and stiff peaks.
- Gently fold in 1/2 of the egg whites into the batter, followed by the remaining flour mixture. Fold in the remaining egg whites until the batter is just combined, being sure not to overmix. Don’t forget to stir in the foil-wrapped coin into the batter and pour everything into the prepared pan.
- Bake for about 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
- Dust with powdered sugar as desired or the cake can be decorated with the numbers of the new year, which can be written on with almond flakes, whole cloves, or made by cutting out paper in the shape of the numbers, placing the paper cut outs onto the cake, and then dusting it with icing sugar. Carefully lift the paper off the cake when you’re done dusting it with the sugar
Enjoy! Xrovia polla kai tou xronou.
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