Vassilopita

New Year’s Orange and Brandy Cake

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Makes

    one

    10 inch round cake

Appears in

ON NEW YEAR’S EVE or after the family lunch on the first day of the New Year, the father of the family cuts into this rich and aromatic cake, which has the year written in almonds on top and a lucky coin secreted inside. A piece is distributed to each family member, starting with the older ones, and whoever gets the symbolic coin is rewarded with a gift of money and starts the year with an advantage.

The basic recipe always contains orange juice, eggs, butter (a luxury in the old days) or margarine and brandy. Like our family, most islanders bake this fragrant cake just once a year. This is my mother’s recipe.

Serve on its own for breakfast or as a snack with coffee, tea or a glass of orange juice.

Ingredients

  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 12 tablespoons ( sticks) unsalted butter, melted, or a combination of butter and margarine
  • cups freshly squeezed orange juice
  • ½ cup brandy
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • Whole blanched almonds

Method

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a 10-inch round cake pan.

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until light yellow and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the butter or butter and margarine and beat for 1 minute more. Beat in the orange juice and brandy.

Whisk together the flour with the baking powder, baking soda and the zests in another large bowl. Add to the yolk mixture and stir with a rubber spatula until incorporated.

In a large clean bowl, with clean beaters, beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Fold them into the batter. Pour the batter into the pan and shake gently to even the top. Decorate the top with the almonds.

Bake the cake for about 1 hour, or until it is golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack before removing from the pan and serving.

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