Celebratory Meal: Greek New Year Sweet Bread/Cake (Vasilopita)
This Greek New Year Tradition of sticking a coin in a cake/sweet bread is less about the culinary delight and more about the moment. Use this recipe to re-create a greek new year moment where ever you live in the world! Family and friends sit around the table waiting impatiently for the head of the house to decide the amounts of pieces to be cut and the order. There is laughter, argument, and excitment as it is an important moment; the winner of the coin, you see, is destined to a year of good luck and joy.
1 kg hard flour
320 gr sugar
250 ml fresh milk warm
200 gr butter melted
80 gr yeast
1 tbsp machlepi, grated
3 medium sized grains mastic, grated with some sugar so they wont stick together
250 ml hot water (one glass)
1. Sift the flour in a bowl then add and stir in the grated machlepi, the grated mastic and the vanillas.
2. Dissolve the yeast in a glass of luke warm water and add some flour to make it into a thin batter.
3. Make a puddle in the middle of the flour and add the yeast mixture. Cover with flour from the sides, make the sign of the cross and let it rest, covered with a kitchen cloth or cling film. (30 minutes)
*Once the top layer of flour begins to crack, the yeast is ready to add the rest of the ingredients.
5. Add the sugar, the warm milk and stir with your hands to combine them.
6. Then add the eggs and continue kneading by adding flour from the sides of the puddle until all the flour has been kneaded into dough.
7. Pour in the melted butter slowly and continue kneading.
8. Butter and flour a pan and place the dough in it. Wrap a coin in tinfoil and stick it into the dough, neither to close to the edges nor in the centre.
Preheat the oven to 160°.
9. Let the dough rise all night, then early in the morning smear it with a whole beaten egg and decorate it with peeled and almond filets.
10. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes.
11. Once it is ready remove from the oven and allow it to cool for approximately 10 minutes then remove from the pan. Place it on an elevated surface to cool.