Happy New Year! My First Vasilopita!


Happy New Year!  I wish you all a healthy, happy, and prosperous 2009. I am so thankful to all of you who read my blog, and I hope you will continue to find reasons to keep coming back in the new year.

Vasilopita is a traditional Greek bread-like cake made every New Year.  The cake is made to bless the house and to bring good luck for the next year.

Vasilopita  is named for Saint Basil (Agios Vasilis) and traditionally, the first piece “goes” to Agios Vasilis.   Beyond that, each family has their own traditions. Some will cut a piece for the church or the home, the Virgin Mary, some will just cut slices for present family members and visitors, others for family far away. Typically, the head of the household cuts the cake and the slices go in order of age (oldest to youngest).

Inside the cake is a foil-wrapped coin. Whoever gets the coin in their slice is said to have good luck for the new year. This was my first time making a vasilopita, since we are often out of town (and Tom is really my only family in the state), and guess who got the coin? Ohhh, it was me! So 2009 is going to be my year, baby! I saw the foil sticking out a little from the side of my piece, which explains my burrowed hole on the right. 🙂

Vasilopita is really similar to a quickbread, though it’s baked as a cake. It’s extremely simple and not overly sweet. Some people add almonds to the top before or after baking to decorate the cake. I just sprinkled a little powdered sugar over the top.


By the way, this is probably not the best thing to try to carry on an airplane. This is powdered vanilla that my grandma gave me when I was in town.

Thankfully, I realized this as I was fishing for my wallet and slipped it into our checked luggage. Otherwise I may have had to go through “added security measures” for my foreign white powdery substance that certainly did not look like vanilla powder to the average individual.




Note: This recipe has been slightly modified since its original post date. This makes a smaller-than-usual vasilopita, since we are a small family. You can double it and bake it in a larger pan if desired.


Happy New Year! My First Vasilopita!

37 thoughts on “Happy New Year! My First Vasilopita!

  1. Hahaha – I guess that lucky quarter has already worked it’s magic while you were packing your vanilla powder! 🙂 That cake looks delicious! Here’s wishing you a Happy New Year full of more delicious eats. I’m looking forward to future posts from Elly Says Opa in 2009!

  2. I’ve seen this at the Greek church’s annual festival. The line is usually very long and filled with kids hoping for a prize. I like the tradition that the eldest gets the first piece and passes it on…maybe because I’m getting to be the eldest!

  3. lol about the powdered vanilla on the airplane. That’s totally something I would have tried to take in a carry on b/c I never think about things like that. 🙂 Great job with the cake!

  4. I have always wanted to learn how to make this…thank you for sharing it! There’s nothing like making a traditional dish for the first time and really getting it perfect. Best to you in 2009.

    Casual Kitchen

  5. Chronia Polla Elly! For some reason our vasilopita never looks this good although our recipe is pretty much the same as yours… It always ends up looking more like a volcano! But, I got the coin so I can’t complain…

  6. What a delicious looking cake! Congratulations on finding the coin. 🙂 I am glad you were able to stuff the vanilla powder into your check luggage before the security people attacked you.

  7. happy new year, elly!

    that looks delicious. i was surprised that i was able to carry on two pies with me during thanksgiving – a caramel pumpkin pie and the TWD twofer pie – i was surprised they did not even say anything after they went through the xray machine!

  8. May love and laughter light your days,
    and warm your heart and home.
    May good and faithful friends be yours,
    wherever you may roam.
    May peace and plenty bless your world
    with joy that long endures.
    May all life’s passing seasons bring
    the best to you and yours!

  9. Thanks Elly. I didn’t have my mother in law’s recipe with me this year at New Years and since my son is Ilios (Vasilios) I needed a cake. Found your recipe online and it was awesome. Thanks for sharing, I now have a new Vasilopita recipe!

  10. this year I tryed something a little different. I made mini muffins out of Duncan hines apple cinnamin ready mix with a granola crunch topping. This way I was able to hide the coin and let them pick their own muffin.. You cannot cheat this way and you can use any type of mix you like. tremendous success !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. Hi There

    I have come across your recipe and I will give it ago. Please can you let me know what do you mean by one stick of butter.

    1. Hi Soulla. In the States, 1 stick of butter is equal to 1/2 cup or 4 oz. Hope this helps. I fixed the recipe so it’s a little clearer.

  12. Hiya, my first vasilopita this year also, followed your recipe and it was gorgeous, thanks! Happy 2012 to you all xxx

  13. Was looking for a new recipe to replace the usual bread Vasilopita. Made it yesterday for New Years. This was absolutely fantastic and everyone loved it!! We all usually just take a bite of our piece “gia to kalo” well everyone ate every bit of it. Thanks so much for sharing this great Vasilopita recipe!! Happy New Year!!

  14. Perfect vasilopita recipe! If you look up 100 vasilopita recipes, you will get 100 different variations! This was great and I also ended up with the coin this year!

    1. Glad you liked the vasilopita, and congratulations on getting the coin, Kathy! My youngest son got it this year (21 months) so he has no idea, hah.

  15. My mom made this cake this year. It doesn’t look like yours, but otherwise it turned out great! Thanks for the nice recipe.

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