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Vasilopita (Greek New Year Bread)

This recipe is in categories Baking, Desserts, Picnic, Vegetarian
About this recipe
Healthiness : (62 votes)
Difficulty:  3 out of 5 difficulty
Preparation Time: 2.5 hours
Cooking Time: 45 mins
Number of servings: 8-10
This is a vegetarian recipe

New Year Bread is traditionally cut at midnight on New Year's Eve. After baking, a coin is inserted through a slit in the base. The person who finds the coin will have luck in the New Year. Long ago the coin used to be a gold one, then later a silver coin was used. These could be put into the dough before baking. Nowadays because coins contain nickel, it is not a good idea to bake a coin in the cake.  It traditionally contains a special Greek resin called masticha, which is ground up and added for flavour.  This recipe contains nutmeg instead.
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 175ml (5 fl oz) milk, lukewarm
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1½ x 5ml spoon (teaspoon) grated orange rind
  • 175g (6oz) caster sugar
  • 500g (1lb 2oz) plain flour
  • ¼ x 5ml spoon (teaspoon) salt
  • ½ x 5ml spoon (teaspoon) ground cinnamon
  • ¼ x 5ml spoon (teaspoon) ground nutmeg
  • 115g (4oz) butter, melted
  • 1 egg, for glazing
  • 1 handful of blanched split almonds (to decorate)
  • Melted butter to grease the bowl
  • Cup
  • Teaspoon
  • Measuring Jug
  • Food Brush
  • Mixing Bowl
  • Sieve
  • Large Baking Sheet
  • Greaseproof paper
  • Wire Rack
Making and cooking it
Always wash your hands before preparing food Always wash your hands before preparing food.

  1. Preheat oven to 180°/350°f/Gas mark 4
  2. Dissolve yeast in 75ml (2 fl oz) of the milk. Add the rest of the milk, eggs, orange rind and sugar
  3. Sift 350g (14oz) flour, salt and spice into a warm bowl and make a well in the centre.
  4. Pour in yeast mixture and stir to blend in flour, gradually adding warm melted butter  
  5. Mix dough with hands until it comes away from the sides
  6. Turn on to a floured surface and knead, adding the rest of the flour as needed,  until dough is no longer sticky
  7. Knead for 10 minutes, dough will be smooth and elastic
  8. Place ball of dough in a clean bowl brushed with melted butter
  9. Turn dough over to coat top with butter and cover bowl with a cloth or plastic wrap.
  10. Leave to prove (rise) in a warm place until doubled in size
  11. Turn on to lightly floured surface
  12. Knead lightly to knock out the big ait bubbles and shape into a round loaf
  13. Place on a large greased baking sheet or in a greased 25cm (10") deep cake tin
  14. Cover and let it rise in a warm place until doubled - about 1 ½ to 2 hours
  15. Glaze with well-beaten egg and arrange blanched almonds in numbers to denote the New Year, pressing in lightly
  16. Bake in a moderately hot oven for 45 minutes until golden brown and cooked when tested
  17. If bread browns too quickly, place a piece of greased brown paper on top
    Cool on a wire rack
Vasilopita (Greek New Year Bread) - print view  Vasilopita (Greek New Year Bread) - print view

If you tried this recipe and liked it, tell us about it
There are 3 comments for this recipe.
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Name: Maria 31st December 2014
Will try this version tomorrow. It hss fewer eggs & less butter than the older recipes. Also, We always put in a dime wrapped in wax paper during the last kneading when making the loaf. This way no one can cheat not even the baker. Mastichi comes in a small jar available on line or any Greek deli. Wish me luck.
Name: Suzanne Powell 1st January 2014
Thank you. My Greek nana made this every year for New Year's day. She died before I was able to get her recipe (braided bread). This plus "super egg", dolmathes (fresh leaves, not jarred!) and roast lamb are my favorite Greek traditions passed down from her!
Name: January 14th January 2012
Smack-dab what I was looking for!
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