Saint Basil's Bread (Vasilopeta)

A Greek New Year's bread.

The cakes differ in the various regions of Greece: some are a type of bread, others a type of rich yeast cake, others are flat, made of cookie dough. The cakes may differ, but all include the customary hidden silver coin. It symbolizes good luck to the person who finds the coin in his piece of cake. The head of the family cuts slices in a very precise order. The first piece goes to Saint Basil for the cake is made in his honor. The second piece goes to Christ. The third piece is for the oldest member of the family, and on down to the youngest.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (1 pound) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 5 cups sugar
  • 12 eggs, separated
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sugar, on the side
  • 6 cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
  • 2 cups crushed, toasted almonds

Instructions

  1. Cream butter, oil, and 5 cups sugar sugar for 10 minutes. Add yolks and flavorings, beat until fluffy.
  2. Alternate adding all dry ingredients (except salt) and yogurt.
  3. In separate bowl, beat whites and salt until foamy. Add 1/2 cup sugar. Beat until stiff meringue forms. Fold into 1st mixture so it stays fluffy.
  4. Pour into greased pan 16 x 11-inch or 14-inch round pan. Add sliced almonds on top.
  5. Bake at 325 degrees F for 15 minutes, then add coin.
  6. Continue baking for additional 30 minutes.

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