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Vasilopita (Greek New Year Bread)

This recipe is in categories Baking, Desserts, Picnic, Vegetarian,
About this recipe:
Difficulty: 3
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.

Ingredients

Making and cooking it
  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