The flavor of the New Year
Here, in Greece, we bake our way out of 2012, making Vassilopita, the pie that we traditionally eat right after midnight on New Year’s Eve and on the first day of the year. Vassilopita that has many delicious variations, depending on the habits of each family and region, is a primitive custom that survived through time, with its ritual for bringing blessings and good luck to the house.
A coin is hidden inside the dough before the baking. Before cutting the pie, the landlord etches with a knife the sign of the cross across it; each piece that is sliced is named symbolically after the Lord, Mother Mary, the poor, the household, depending on the traditions of the family, then, after the members of the family and its guests. The person, who will find the coin inside his piece, is considered lucky for the whole year.
Apart from the suspense of the ritual, I enjoy eating my piece of Vassilopita for the first breakfast of the year with a strong cup of coffee and with my New Year’s resolutions, the kind of ones that statistically fail by 88% according to Wikipedia…
But now it is time for baking! This year we are making Gely’s delicious recipe, a traditional pie that Christos loves; and recently that I tasted it I understood why: it is aromatic, fluffy and full of flavor! The mastic, mahlepi and kakoules will fill your house with festive scents that will become a part of your warmest family memories.
Happy New Year!
The Vassilopita recipe
• 1 glass of corn oil
• 1 kg of hard flour
• 1 glass of sugar
• 100 gr. Yeast
• 4 eggs + 1 for the coating
• 1 glass of milk + some more for the coating
• 1 teaspoon of mastic
• 1 teaspoon of mahlepi
• 1 teaspoon of kakoules (kardamon)
almonds, or sesame, or icing sugar for decoration
Crush the mastic, mahlepi and the kakoules in a mortar.
Put the eggs, oil and sugar in a bowl and whisk together until the sugar dissolves.
Dissolve the yeast inside the milk and add it to the egg mixture.
Gradually add the flour and the spices and knead until you have smooth and elastic dough.
Cover the bowl of dough with a clean towel and let it rest in a warm place for an hour.
Grease a baking pan and spread the dough inside it. Whisk an egg with some milk and coat it over the pie.
Make your New Year’s decorations with almonds, sesame or icing sugar, according to your preference and bake in a preheated oven at 180-200°C for at least 40 minutes.
A warm thank you to Gely Giannousoglou for sharing this recipe!
words by maria alipranti
photography by christos drazos