Greece – Vasilopita

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This week, we travel to the home of Zeus, classical architecture and birthplace of democracy – Greece!

In the last few years Greece have had a good chat about leaving the euro. There seems to be all sorts of bad press about trying to get out of Europe-based situations, but they haven’t gone as far as we have yet (might be for the best, but I’m no expert). This week, it became apparent that even senior members of our government have no fucking clue what’s going on, as this bewildering exchange (click link for full-scale bewilderment) between Chris Grayling, the transport secretary, and Kevin, who runs a major haulage company in Yorkshire:

Grayling: we hope there will be a deal.
Kevin: “But what if there ISN’T a deal? Can you tell me, minister, what plans are there to remedy this situation?”
Grayling: “Well, could you suggest anything?”

Clearly all this has been so well planned that the government are randomly polling the general public for suggestions about how to negotiate a decent exit.

IMG_6127tBut, enough with that depressing nonsense, and on to the cake. Vasilopita is a traditional cake for New Year, which has a coin hidden in it. At midnight the cake is cut and served out, oldest to youngest, and whoever gets the coin is supposed to have good luck for the rest of the year. The recipe for this cake is huge, as it calls for a 32cm diameter cake tin (I don’t have one of those), so I decided to half this recipe and it made a good 20cm diameter cake. The cooking time stays about the same though, as it’s quite a tall cake. I think mine took at least 50 minutes to cook. I was playing Overcooked 2 and sporadically checking on it, so not sure of the exact timing. I think I will make this again at New Year though, it’s a delightful cake, simple but delicious in flavour.

This post is part of a series called ‘Brexit Baking’, where I bake my way around all 28 EU Member States. You can read more about it here.

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Vasilopita (recipe from here)

375g butter
660g sugar
6 eggs (separated)
a pinch of salt
zest of 2 oranges
1/2 cup orange juice
200g yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
750g self-rising flour, sifted

330g icing sugar
3 tbsp hot water or milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Separate the eggs. Place the egg whites in a bowl, along with a pinch of salt. Make sure your egg whites, bowl and whisk attachments are clean and free of any water. Whisk the egg whites until the mixture is thick and glossy and a long trailing peaks form.
  2. Use the electric mixer, to mix the butter and sugar, for about 20 minutes, until the butter is creamy and fluffy, like whipped cream. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, whilst mixing, allowing time for each one to be absorbed, before adding another.
  3. Pour in the orange juice, the vanilla extract, the orange zest, the yogurt and mix to combine. Add 1/3 of the sifted flour and blend, using a spatula. Add 1/3 of the egg whites and blend with light circular movements from the bottom up. Repeat with the rest of the flour and egg white (adding 1/3 of the flour and 1/3 meringue and then the remaining flour and egg white).
  4. Butter the bottom and sides of a round non-stick cake tin (approx.32cm diameter) and pour in the mixture. Place the cake tin in the preheated oven, on the lower rack, turn the heat down to 175C and bake for 50-60 minutes, until nicely coloured and cooked through. Check if the vasilopita is ready, by sticking a skewer in the middle of the cake. If it comes out clean, then the cake is ready.
  5. Let the vasilopita cool down (otherwise it will break) and turn out onto a plate. Wrap a coin with aluminium foil and stick it in the cake. Turn the vasilopita onto a plate.
  6. In a large bowl blend the icing sugar, water and vanilla extract with a spatula to combine, until the glaze is smooth and and glossy.  Add a little bit more hot water, if needed (the glaze should be like a thin cream). Top the vasilopita with the glaze and even out with a spatula.
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