A Jedi’s strength flows from the Force. But beware of the dark side.” –Yoda to Luke
“Oh boy,” I know you are thinking, “Where is she going with this one?”
“I got the coin, I got the coin!” This phrase is uttered countless of times as over 10 million Greeks in a galaxy far, far away dig into the piece of Vasilopita (St. Basil’s Cake) that had been allocated to them in search of that ever-elulsive coin. What coin is this might you ask? Let me tell you, it’s harder to locate than Luke Skywalker in the Force Awakens.
No maps either.
Every year, Greeks bake a sweet cake, scented with orange and cinnamon and drop a coin into it while it bakes. It’s carefully cut into pieces and passed out to everyone at New Year’s dinner. The young jedi knight, I mean, the person who finds the coin in their piece of cake will find that the force will be strong with them in the coming year.
Well, the sound of that we like, do we not? Sorry, got all Yoda on you. So you are not so sure you believe in the power of the coin? Let me explain further.
- 1967 my father won the coin and he came to America.
- 1969 my mother won the coin and got engaged.
- 1999 I won the coin and bought my first car with gains made in stock market (true story, dotcom boom)
- 2012 I won the coin again and got married.
- 2013 my friend T. won the coin and got a new job. That she loves! How about that?
- 2014 my friend D. wrote a song and now a famous Latin American soccer player wants to produce it. I am so putting that on my blog when it’s out there!
Do you doubt the power of the coin now?
So how does the dark side play into this you may be asking?
If you are privileged enough to win the coin’s favor, you must never lose or spend said coin. Or not so nice things will occur. I’m not saying Darth Vader will be after you, but something close. Take for instance my cousin George. Sorry man, I have to call you out. My cousin George had been winning the coin 7 years straight. He was Jedi Master of the Vasilopita coin. But then, the dark side. He was foolish enough to carry his precious coins everywhere he went. And one day he got stuck a the train station, in the days before cell phones. What? Yes! You know where this is story is going. He used his coins to call his mom for a ride. Well, let’s just say that his life has taken an interesting turn. He might as well live on the planet Jakku. And he also has never won the coin again. You must not take the coin’s powers lightly.
Anyway, before I get to the reason you are here. The recipe. (I have had many requests to publish this early). I will leave you with this small bit of nostalgia from my childhood.
There is winning, and then there’s really winning…
I remember New Year’s Eve 1985, my parents and I went to my great-aunt Vicki’s house to ring in the New Year by playing poker and eating, two classic Greek pastimes. It was also her name’s day and my mom’s, Vasiliki. So this first day of the year is extra special to me.
My koubaro made pizza with a Bisquick crust (funny that I can remember that detail). So there we were. Pizza. Beer. Poker. I was little, but they needed bodies and there was no discriminating against taking money from a kid, so there I was, learning to play poker along with my aunt and mom. All I remember is Vicki kept winning. Over and over again. She had no idea how to play, but she was “all-in”, every time. It was quite a run.
And when she won, she would laugh, the best, loudest, most shocked laugh I ever heard. I wasn’t even bothered by the fact that I was losing because she kept laughing this glorious laugh every time she won a hand.
It was wildly entertaining considering she was beating my dad, my koubaro and great uncle, the card sharks, the three wise guys, the self-proclaimed poker aficionados. They were stupefied. I was enamoured with her, now that’s winning! The force was strong with her.
Now let’s make cake young Jedis.
-Mistress Kallie 🙂
Vasilopita – St. Basil’s Cake
4 cups flour*
2 cups sugar
6 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup melted butter
1 1/2 cups milk
5 egg yolks
4 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon orange rind
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
Pre-heat oven to 350 F.
Measure and sift all the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. In a stand mixer beat the eggs, milk, vanilla and butter well and then slowly add dry ingredients. Finally add the orange rind. Pour the mixture in a well buttered and floured prepared pan. Easy peasy.
Hide a clean foiled wrapped coin in the batter before baking. Bake in oven at 350 for 45-50 minutes checking to see if toothpick comes out clean.
Turn out into a serving plate and top with a dusting of cinammon and powdered sugar.
* If making gluten free, I like to use Jeanne’s Gluten Free Flour Mix from the Art of Gluten Free Baking. For her mix, 140 grams = 1 cup of gluten free flour