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Vasilopita : The Greek cake with the gold coin. What you need to know about (Recipe)

Its roots are placed in Caesarea, Cappadocia, about 1600 years ago.

Vasilopita : The Greek cake with the gold coin. What you need to know about (Recipe)

According to Greek custom, on New Year's Eve, family and friends gather around the festive table. On top of it there is also a king cake in which there is hidden a fleur (coin, gold whenever possible).

With the arrival of the new year, the owner of the house cuts it into triangular pieces, each of which is offered to those present, except, of course, those belonging to Christ, the Virgin Mary, the poor, etc. To whomever the flouri happens, the custom states that it will bring him luck in the new year.

Where does this tradition come from?

If you are wondering, how this custom was established, there are many versions. However, according to religious tradition, its roots are placed in Caesarea, Cappadocia, about 1600 years ago.
At that time, the bishop was Basil the Great, who was known for his compassion and help to his fellow men. Then, according to one version, the tyrannical prefect of Cappadocia asked the Great Kingdom to hand over all the city's gold to him, otherwise he would besiege and plunder it. He prayed all night to God for the salvation of the city and when dawn broke, the prefect with his army surrounded the city, ready to plunder it. When Basil the Great told him that he cannot satisfy his demands, as most of the inhabitants are very poor, then he became very angry and threatened to banish him or even kill him.

The Christians of Caesarea, who loved their despot very much, hearing the threats, collected all the gold they had and delivered it in a chest to the Great Kingdom and he in turn to the tyrant. When the latter tried to open it, the miracle happened. Everyone saw a flash and a horseman (Saint Mercury) appeared who together with his army (angels) rushed at the prefect and his people who perished. Thus the city was saved.
Then, Basil the Great faced the problem of returning and fairly distributing the gold to the inhabitants. He prayed to God and He gave him enlightenment. He asked his assistants to knead buns and inside each of them to place a few pieces of gold. Each family, consuming their bread, was surprised to find out its contents. This bread was the king pie, bringing joy and blessing.
That is why, in honor of the Saint, on the first day of the year (the day of his death) we make a king's pie and place a flower on it.

The coin

To symbolize the gold and jewels in the origin story of Vasilopita, a gold coin known as the flouri is baked into the bread during its preparation. The individual who receives the slice containing the coin is said to be blessed with good luck in the new year!


Vasilopita recipe (source: Akis Petretzikis)

Ready to host your own Vasilopita party? We’ve got a recipe to help get you started!


  • 300 g butter, at room temperature
  • 250 g icing sugar
  • 1 tablespoon(s) granulated sugar
  • 7 g mahlab
  • 2 g mastic
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoon(s) all-purpose flour
  • zest, of 1-2 oranges
  • 1 teaspoon(s) vanilla powder
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 75 g milk, 3.5%
  • 400 g all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon(s) baking powder
  • Icing sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 180* C (350*F) Fan.
  2. In a mixer, beat the butter and icing sugar, with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Stop beating and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat for another 5 minutes. (It is important that the butter is at room temperature. The softer it is the fluffier your mixture will be.)
  3. While you are waiting, add the remaining ingredients from the 1st mixture (apart from the orange zest) and beat them in a blender along with a tablespoon of sugar, until they become powdery. When ready, add the orange zest and mix.
  4. Add this powdery mixture to the mixer and beat on low speed.
  5. Add all the ingredients from the 2nd mixture, in batches. Release the mixing bowl and add the ingredients from the 3rd mixture. Mix with a large spoon.
  6. Grease a round 25 cm spring form baking pan and dust with flour. Transfer the batter to the baking pan.
  7. Bake for 45-50 minutes.
  8. When ready, remove from oven and dust with icing sugar and serve!
  9. If you would like to follow the Greek tradition, wrap a coin and place it somewhere in the cake before you bake it! It will be a Lucky New Year for whichever family member or friend finds it in their slice!

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