Vasilopita Tsoureki: A Taste of Greek Tradition for a Sweet New Year

 Vasilopita tsoureki, known as Βασιλόπιτα τσουρέκι in Greek, holds a cherished place in the hearts of Greeks in Constantinople as a traditional New Year's delicacy. While tsoureki, a sweet bread, graces Greek tables year-round, its significance shines even brighter during special occasions such as New Year's.

The recipe for Vasilopita tsoureki calls for a medley of ingredients, including flour, yeast, milk, mahlab, mastic, eggs, butter, sugar, salt, orange zest, and almonds. The enchanting aroma of this New Year's cake emanates from the distinctive mahleb and mastic, both readily available at Greek food stores. Mahlab, or mahalepi, adds its aromatic spice, while mastic, an aromatic resin traditionally sourced from the island of Chios, imparts its unique flavor.

Crafting this vasilopita tsoureki recipe demands approximately two hours, accounting for preparation and waiting time, and it yields around 12 delectable pieces. As you savor each bite of this cherished treat, you'll experience not only the delicious taste but also a taste of Greek tradition and cultural celebration.

vasilopita tsoureki

Vasilopita tsoureki - Ingredients

  1. 1 kg of hard flour
  2. 18 g of yeast
  3. 1 teaspoon of mahlab
  4. 1 teaspoon of mastic
  5. 500 ml milk, 3,5%
  6. 125 g butter, at room temperature
  7. 240 g granulated sugar
  8. 3  eggs
  9. 1 teaspoon of salt
  10. Οrange zest, of 2 oranges
  11. 1 egg yolk, beaten in cold water,
  12. Almonds 
  13. A clean coin, wrapped in aluminum foil 

Vasilopita tsoureki - How to Make

  1. Start this vasilopita tsoureki recipe by taking a pot. Add the milk and the butter and bring to a boil over medium temperature until the butter is half melted.
  2. Remove the pot from heat and once the butter is melted, add the sugar, eggs, salt, and orange zest, and mix.
  3. Allow the mixture to become lukewarm.   
  4. Preheat the oven to 200°C and turn it down.
  5. Take a mixer and add the flour, yeast, mahlab, and mastic and mix a bit. Gradually add the mixture from the pot, mixing the ingredients at medium speed. 
  6. When the dough becomes soft and does not stick stop mixing. 
  7. Place the dough in a deep bowl. Cover it with a kitchen towel. Place it in the oven for about 40 minutes. The dough should double in size.
  8. Grease well a baking pan with butter.
  9. Remove the dough from the oven, place the coin in the pan and evenly place the dough. 
  10. Decorate the vasilopita with the almonds
  11. Place the vasilopita in the oven for about 15 minutes.
  12. Gently spread the egg yolk on the surface of the cake with the help of a brush. 
  13. Increase oven temperature to 180°C and bake for around 30-40 minutes until it gets a nice golden color.
  14. Remove from oven and allow to cool down to room temperature. 
 In the warmth of family gatherings and the joy of celebrating the New Year, Vasilopita tsoureki emerges as more than just a sweet bread; it becomes a symbol of tradition, love, and togetherness. As you embark on the journey of crafting this beloved recipe, remember that each ingredient carries not just flavor but the stories of generations past.

May the rich aroma of mahlab and mastic fill your home, creating a sensory tapestry of heritage and nostalgia. Whether shared with loved ones or savored alone, this Vasilopita tsoureki embodies the spirit of Greek culture and the cherished moments that bring us closer together.

So, as you slice into this delightful creation, may it serve as a reminder of the deep-rooted traditions that unite us, and may the coming year be filled with love, prosperity, and the sweetness of life's simple pleasures. Try this vasilopita with cocoa recipe if you are looking for something more unconventional. Happy New Year!