Traditional Vasilopita Cake Recipe + Video

Greece has a lovely tradition of baking a special cake for the New Year, to start things off right! It’s called a “Vasilopita”. Those who follow the tradition strictly hide a golden lira coin in the bottom of the cake but any coin will do. They cut the cake into slices on New Year’s Day, naming each slice as they cut it, after everyone in the family and friends. Whoever is lucky enough to get the coin in their slice has a very lucky year!

Traditional Vasilopita New Year Cake Recipe


1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
4 cups flour
6 eggs
1 cup orange juice
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 teaspoons grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon of the aromatic spice Machleb (mahalepi). Can be found at Toronto's Select Bakery or any local Greek bakery.
A pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1 cup warm milk 
2 cups of icing sugar to sieve on top.* Optional 


1. Whisk the butter, sugar and salt together, until pale and fluffy. Add the egg yolks, one by one and then add the grated zest, vanilla, orange juice, machalepi and warm milk. Once all is mixed thoroughly we add the flour and baking powder.

2. Whisk the egg whites to a thick meringue. Fold it gently to the mixture, a little at a time, alternately with the flour, with the help of a spatula.

3. Lightly oil a baking pan and empty the mixture in. Add the traditional coin (a quarter, silver or gold for a year filled of good luck to whoever finds it). Bake at 350ºF, in a preheated oven, for approximately 40 minutes. Let it rest for 5 minutes, then, remove the cake from the tin and place it on a rack to cool. Sieve some icing sugar on top.

Serves: 12 
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Baking time:  40 minutes

Below is an alternative (similar) Vasilopita cake recipe by Greece's celebrity chef, Akis Petretzikis (In Greek):