New Year’s Eve is always regarded as a special time for everybody. It’s time when friends meet, when the whole family can spend time together and have a good conversation and a good meal.
This Orange-Brandy Cake, known as Vasilopita (or Bill's Cake loosely translated), is a traditional Greek New Year’s Day cake comprising brandy, orange and lemon to form a light and springy cake packed with flavour. It is not heavy as just a small amount of brandy is added.
In the really traditional version, you hide a coin inside before it’s placed in the over and whoever cuts the slice of cake with the coin inside is said to have good luck all year. It’s one reason why people want large slices – the other is, it tastes good and is the perfect partner for morning or afternoon tea or coffee.
4 large eggs, separated
1 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
12 tablespoons unsalted melted butter or a combination of butter and olive oil
1¼ cups freshly squeezed orange juice
½ cup brandy
4 cups all purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
grated zest of 1 orange
grated zest of 1 lemon
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. Grease a 10-inch round cake pan. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until light yellow and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the butter or butter/olive oil and beat for 1 minute more. Beat in the orange juice and brandy.
3. Whisk together the flour with the baking powder and the zests in another large bowl. Add to the yolk mixture and stir with a rubber spatula until incorporated.
4. In a large clean bowl, with clean beaters, beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Fold them into the batter. Pour the batter into the pan and shake gently to even the top. Decorate the top with the almonds.
5. Bake the cake for about 1 hour, or until it is golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool on a rack before removing from the pan.
6. To serve, sprinkle with whole almonds or icing sugar (pictured).