Vasilopita: New Years bread in the bread maker

Vasilopita is a cake, or a bread, served on New Years Day in many Greek Orthodox homes.  A Vasilopita is named in honour of St. Basil and St. Basil’s name day is celebrated on January 1st.  A coin is placed in the Vasilopita and whoever gets the piece with the coin is said to have good luck for the year.  My grandmothers always made a Vasilopita and we nearly always celebrated New Years Day at my Papou (grandfather) Basil’s house, which was more a celebration of his name day than the first day of the year 🙂  Husband and I do not observe religious events, but this was a very important day for my grandparents and so I like to make a Vasilopita to teach Arthur and DeeW about their family’s history.

Last year, I  made my Vasilopita as a cake:

vasilopita2

This year, I used this recipe I found at http://vvoc.org/2012/01/03/new-years-bread-vasilopita/

I followed the recipe pretty exactly as stated though I had a 7g sachet of dried yeast (the recipe states 8g).  So I will paste the recipe here but with ingredients and instructions based on what I did. All credit for the recipe goes to the authors of that link, not me!

BREAD MAKER VASILOPITA

from http://vvoc.org/2012/01/03/new-years-bread-vasilopita/

3 teaspoons of orange zest

2 Tablespoons of orange juice

Egg replacer (Made up to be equivalent of one whole egg and one egg white.)

65ml soy milk

6 Tablespoons of Nutellex (or other vegan margarine)

2 teaspoons of aniseed juice (see below)

90g caster sugar

425g plain white flour

1 x 7g sachet of yeast

3 Tablespoons of warm water

Method

  1. Prepare the aniseed juice I bought a packet of star anise, measured out a tablespoon in a teacup and covered it with boiled water, just enough to touch the tops of the anise and I let it sit for a few hours. I used this liquid in the recipe.

  2. Finely zest enough orange to make 3 teaspoons.  Set aside.

  3. Juice the orange and set aside.

  4. Prepare the egg replacer as per instructions on packet and set aside.

  5. Prepare yeast by placing the 3 Tablespoons of warm water in a glass bowl and dissolving a pinch of sugar. Sprinkle the contents of the sachet into the water, swish about a bit then cover with a cloth and set aside out of drafts.

  6. Measure out milk and set aside.

  7. Measure out margarine, melt and set aside.

  8. Weigh the flour and set aside.

  9. Weigh the sugar and set aside.

  10. By now, the yeast should have started to activate (It will look a little bit fluffy/frothy.)

  11. Place ingredients into the bread machine in the following order:

    1. zest

    2. juice

    3. aniseed juice

    4. egg replacer (you may need to whisk as it may have settled)

    5. margarine

    6. soy milk

    7. caster sugar

    8. flour

  12. Make a small well in the top of the flour and tip the yeast on top.

  13. Place pan into bread maker and select the sweet bread setting.

 

Ha!  You whacky Veganopoulous!  As I pasted in this recipe I just realised I did not melt the Nutellex!  Yep, I missed that bit and added it in unmelted.  It didn’t cause a problem luckily:

bread maker Vasilopita

The Vasilopita bread turned out great.  Nice and sweet and the Greeks that ate it said it tasted like tsoureki (a sweet egg-rich brioche-like bread often served at Easter).  I think I’ll use this dough to make my tsoureki at Easter.  Perhaps I can have it rise in the bread maker then transfer it to the oven in the traditional plaited shape.

bread maker Vasilopita

I’m so pleased to have a Vasilopita recipe for the bread maker that turns out so well! I think I will make this when my mother and her Greek friends are fasting during Lent, to amaze them with this I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-butter-and-eggs tsoureki!

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Vasilopita and what New Years Day 2013 looked like

Growing up, New Years Day was always an important event in my family.  January 1st is also St. Basil’s Day .  St. Basil was (if I remember correctly) a forefather of the Greek Orthodox Church and well loved for his kindness to the poor and underprivileged, animals and children.  My grandparents were devout Greek Orthodox Christians and although I’m not religious in any way, I still like to include some of what made January 1st special for them.

 It is also the name day for people named Basil/Vasillios (often named ‘Bill’ in English) or Vasilliki (‘Victoria/Vicky’).  My grandfather was named Vasillios, which is why January 1st was such a big deal in our family  🙂  The vegan foods served would include fresh garden salad (my grandparents grew the sweetest, juiciest tomatoes from a garden they started in 1953), pilafi rice, fried zucchini, dolmades and roast potatoes.  Everything else was very non-vegan.  My grandparents have all passed away and my dad still likes to have small family get togethers on January 1st, although it’s pretty much just immediate family and no longer the big celebration where you only see other relatives that one time a year.

Here are the vegan foods my mum served today.  First up, her awesome roast potatoes.  I used to whine about how the oven in my new home never worked properly because my potatoes never turned out beautiful and crispy like my mum’s.  Then one day I accidentally plopped too much oil in the roasting tray and then forgot about the potatoes so they were slightly burnt.  Result?  Amazingly crispy delicious potatoes:

potatoes

Mum makes her version of fried rice for me:

rice

My sister made the vegan sausage rolls I’ve blogged about here:

sausagerolls

My plate.  My sister made a salad with baby spinach, roast potato and tomato with a dressing of orange, tahini, maple syrup.  I could have eaten the dressing itself with a spoon.  My mum made her standard garden salad with extra virgin olive oil tossed through:newyearplate

For dessert I made a chocolate cashew cream with 2 cups of soaked cashews, about a cup of almond milk, raw cacao powder and enough soft Medjool dates for sweetness.  Forgot to take a photo of that.

Now, on to the Vasilopita!  On New Years Day it is traditional to bake a Vasilopita.  ‘Vasilo’ refers to Vasilli/Basil and a ‘pita’ is a kind of pie or cake.  Think spanakopita– ‘spanaki’ is spinach, ‘pita’ the pie/cake.  ‘Karithopita’– ‘karithi’ means walnut, so Karithopita is walnut cake.  Anyway, the Vasilopita contains a coin hidden in the cake somewhere.  Whoever gets the piece with the coin is supposed to have good luck for the coming year.  Some people make the Vasilopita as a bread, using yeast.  Others make it more like a cake.  A lot depends on the region one is from, or family tradition.  For me, I initially opted to make the bread version as it’s less sweet but when I looked up some recipes, I realised I left it too late to do the whole dough rising, then rising again thing.  So I had to switch to the cake-like Vasilopita.

I don’t think I’ll post the recipe officially as it really is just a vegan version of a standard plain butter cake and I feel not something worth replicating.  I used plain white flour, vegan margarine, sugar, soy milk, egg replacer, almond essence and orange zest.  For the topping, I chopped up a combination of pistachios, almonds, walnuts and pecans then threw in some whole pine nuts:

mixmasteretc

So I was merrily going along and during the mixing with my awesome Sunbeam Mixmaster (this belong to my grandma, the wife of my grandpa Billy) I thought hmmm this is a LOT of batter.  As in, I don’t have a cake tin big enough and I can’t bake two separate cakes as it’s already really late and I want to go to bed asap.  So I had to use this big sunflower shaped cake tin.  The problem with a tin like this for Vasilopita is that you’re supposed to sprinkle the nuts on top of the cake before baking, but with this sunflower tin it’s shaped of course, so you have to turn the cake out upside down.  So I took a gamble and sprinkled the nuts on the cake tin before pouring the batter in.  Then I crossed my fingers and hoped the nuts wouldn’t burn.  Much relief when the nuts turned out just right:

vasilopita1

Not a pretty looking cake by any means.  I cut a slit in to it and inserted a silver coin (real silver).  Husband said coins should never be baked in with a cake and that it’s best to just put in a silver coin after the cake has been cooked.  So he got a silver coin from his collection (the coin was made in 1898) and well, we had to say okay whoever gets the coin must give it back *cough*  Anyway, the cake was dusted with icing sugar to make it a little more attractive:

vasilopita2

It turned out okay but as I said, just a standard plain cake with a hint of the orange and almond.   The nut ‘topping’ added a nice crunch but the cake was too sweet for me.  My parents ended up winning the coin (and giving it back…):

vasilopita3

And now we’re back home again.  Tomorrow I’m looking forward to getting back in to my raw juices and smoothies.  Tonight I’m looking forward to a lot of sleep!

New Years Eve visit to Mister Nice Guy’s Bake Shop

Yep, another visit to Mister Nice Guy’s Bake Shop!  Because today is New Years Eve and well, they had the babkas.  And I’ve always wanted to try a babka ever since I saw that Seinfeld babka episode years ago.  And if I didn’t go and try the babka I’d be wearing this face for all of 2013, because my grandmother used to say that whatever face you made on New Years Eve would stay with you for the following year:

elainebabka

On our way to the bake shop:

street1

street2

I enjoyed watching the animated conversation of this woman and man, who appeared to be neighbours.  I could make out a little of their conversation in Italian.  I love where I live, we have a great community of senior citizens with marvellous stories to tell.  I thought this woman was adorable in her knee high pantyhose.  Lame hack attempt at an artsy photo:

street7

Union Road, Ascot Vale.  I love the older buildings:

street6

street3

street4

street5

Arthur got his usual cinnamon bun.  I asked if he’d ever get sick of these and he said NO WAY.  Clearly, he won’t get sick of sticking his fork in the bun when I’m taking photos.  He said today’s cinnamon bun “is one thousand billion out of 100, which is technically not correct but these are really good and deserve an impossible rating”:

cinnamonbun

And I tried the chocolate babka (yum!):

babka1

Demolition!  With finesse:

babka2

Our view:

bakeshopview

On the way home we stopped in at the library.  Arthur insisted I take a photo of the book he was reading:
fartbook

The weather was gorgeous.  When we got home we just relaxed a bit and Arthur got stuck in to his library books.  He saved some of his cinnamon bun for DeeW.

We’ll spend a quiet new years eve at home.  I have to prepare something for dessert as we’re heading to lunch tomorrow.  I think I’ll make some chocolate cashew cream.  I’m also hoping to make a Vasilopita.  Stay tuned if you want to know what that is  🙂

Have a great new years, wherever you are!

garycoleman

I previously wrote about Mister Nice Guy’s Bake Shop here and here.

Mister Nice Guy’s Bake Shop is located at 151 Union Road, Ascot Vale and very close to public transport.  Here is their stockists web page:

http://www.misterniceguy.com.au/stockists/