Although you could argue I have already done one new years post with my hazelnut and salted caramel pavlova, I am arguing that two cannot hurt, especially since this is technically my first bake of the new year. However, for me the decision to make a Vasilopita is somewhat contradictory: although it is traditional in certain cultures at this time of year, I couldn’t even say the ruddy name of the thing until I googled it!
Once I got the pronunciation down, I did a bit of research and googled a few recipes before I risked offending anyone else. I first came across the traditional Greek cake, also known as king pie or basil pie, while scrolling through my Instagram feed. One instagrammer (michalis_.ioannou if you’re interested) turned his leftover cake into French toast and covered it in nutella. It’s safe to say it looked pretty delicious, so I thought if all else failed I would happily gobble it up in this form. So although it is a little bit late for new year, more cake never really hurts, am I right? (Ask me again at the gym tomorrow and my answer might be different). While doing my research I found out that a lot of cakes tended to be flavoured with citrus fruits, and since I’d already missed the ritual of cutting it open at midnight and serving it to all the family members in order of age to bring them luck (whoops) I thought I’d better honour some of the tradition in this post. If nothing else it does have a coin baked in and I’m still more than happy to shovel down the first piece, so hopefully I will be forgiven in the long term.
However, I also had to put a few of my own little twists in, just because I’m a pain like that. I decided to add in the flavours of pistachio and rose, purely because I think they both go well with and enhance the orange flavour. I followed a recipe from a Greek food blog called Olivetomato and although some might disagree I’d like to give them some extra kudos for making it a lighter version. It’s a really nice recipe that turns out well; all I had to do was replace the vanilla essence for rosewater and chuck in some pistachios once it had all been mixed. However, I did take another idea from a different version on allrecipes. This version uses nuts, and as a result sprinkled some extra almonds and sugar over the cake half way through baking. This looked lovely on the top, so although it isn’t a necessary stage I would definitely recommend it (even though it rendered my ‘Happy New Year 2017’ stencil which I spent half an hour cutting out pretty useless!).
Being modest, as per, I would have to say that overall it was pretty delicious. The cake was really moist and light, but the nuts and sugar on top also gave it a lovely crunch. The flavours balanced well although the rose was quite hard to pick out mainly because it blends so well with the orange. As with my first ever post for Turkish delight cupcakes I was very wary of using too much rosewater as I didn’t want the final thing to taste of bath water, but I think I managed to avoid this and there is potentially scope for adding a little more if it is to your taste. Either way I hope you enjoy!
Orange, Rose and Pistachio Vasilopita (Serves approx. 10)
- 115g unsalted butter, softened.
- 175g caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp rosewater
- 180ml orange juice
- 260g plain flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 50g pistachios
For the topping:
- Approx. 4 tbsp almonds and chopped pistachios
- Aprox. 2 tbsp caster sugar
- Preheat your oven to 180C/ 160C Fan/ 360F
- Cream the butter and sugar until smooth and pale.
- Whisk the eggs and add to the butter mix.
- Mix the orange juice and the rosewater in a separate bowl and add to the other ingredients. Mix for a few minutes.
- Add the flour and the baking powder and keep mixing until completely smooth and slightly paler in colour. Add the pistachios and mix until evenly incorporated.
- Transfer the mix into a lined and greased baking tin and bake for 25 minutes.
- In this time, mix the caster sugar and the nuts for the topping.
- After 25 minutes, remove the cake from the oven and scatter over the nuts and sugar. Put back in the oven at the same temperature for another 30-35 minutes.
- Remove from the oven when golden and a skewer comes out clean. While still warm make a small incision in the cake and push in a coin. Cover the cut with sugar. Leave to cool and turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.