Celebrate with Flavor: Vasilopita Portokali - The Orange-Infused New Year's Tradition

 What is Vasilopita Cake with Orange (Vasilopita Portokali)? Vasilopita is the traditional cake baked for New Year's Day, also Saint Basil's Day in Greece. This cherished cake holds a hidden coin within its dough, promising good luck to the finder for the year ahead. As the clock strikes midnight on New Year's Eve, families in Greece gather, and traditionally, the father cuts the Vasilopita. Slices are then shared from oldest to youngest.

Creating a Vasilopita is a delightful tradition with various recipes. This Vasilopita Portokali recipe calls for butter, sugar, eggs, salt, orange zest, orange juice, Greek yogurt, vanilla extract, self-rising flour, icing sugar, milk, and more.

The roots of this tradition trace back to the legend of St. Basil, the Bishop of Caesarea. In a noble act, he raised a ransom payment from his city's citizens to halt a siege. Each citizen contributed gold and jewelry. Yet, when the ransom was raised, the enemy, overwhelmed by embarrassment, abandoned their siege without taking payment. St. Basil was left with the unpaid ransom but couldn't identify each item's owner. So, he baked the jewelry into loaves of bread and distributed them throughout the city. Miraculously, each citizen received their rightful share. In Greece, St. Basil delivers gifts to children, in contrast to the rest of the Western world, where St. Nicholas bestows presents on Christmas.

This authentic Vasilopita Portokali, infused with orange flavor, takes 30 minutes to prepare and 60 minutes to bake, serving 6 to 8, depending on slice size. Top it with a dusting of powdered sugar. To check readiness, insert a toothpick into the cake's center; if it emerges clean, your cake is ready to savor."

Vasilopita Portokali

Vasilopita Portokali - Ingredients

  • 200g butter, room temperature
  • 175g sugar
  • 3 eggs (separated yolks from whites)
  • Pinch of salt
  • The zest from 1 orange
  • 125ml orange juice
  • 100g Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 375g self-rising flour, sifted
  • A clean coin, covered in aluminum foil

For the icing: 

  • 300g icing sugar
  •  2 tbsp. milk
  •  1 tsp. vanilla extract

Vasilopita Portokali - How to make

  1. Start this vasilopita recipe by separating the egg yolks from the whites. 
  2. Take an electric mixer to whisk the eggs, add a pinch of salt, and mix until it becomes fluffy and stiff.
  3. In a separate bowl mix the butter with the icing sugar, until creamy. 
  4. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, and continue to mix until well blended. 
  5. Pour the orange juice in small doses, the yogurt, and the vanilla extract. Finally, add the flour and mix until becomes a compact cream.
  6. Preheat the oven to 180 °C.
  7. With a plastic spatula start folding in the fluffed egg whites. 
  8. Use slow circular movement so the cream remains frothy and stiff. 
  9. Wrap a coin with aluminum foil. 
  10. Take a round non-stick and place the coin.  
  11. Transfer the mixture into a round non-stick baking tin and place it in the oven. 
  12. Bake the vasilopita for 50-60 minutes, until nicely colored and cooked through. 
  13. Let the vasilopita cool for 10 minutes and invert the pan on a plate.
  14. For the icing, add the ingredients and mix with a spoon until the sugar dissolves and becomes creamy and glossy.
  15. Pour it on top of the vasilopita and spread it evenly with a knife. 
  16. Store the vasilopita in a cool dry place until serving.
As you savor the delightful blend of tradition and zest in Vasilopita Portokali, may the hidden coin bring you a year filled with fortune and joy. Share this cherished cake with loved ones, continuing a centuries-old Greek custom that warms hearts and kindles hope. With each slice, you not only celebrate the arrival of a new year but also the enduring spirit of unity and goodwill. Happy baking, and may your Vasilopita Portokali be a symbol of sweetness and success in the days to come! If you do, then try this vasilopita with mandarin recipe. Happy New Year!