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  • artfullyalissa

A modern twist on a Greek tradition: How to make whiskey and orange vasilopita

One of the first things I did when George and I got married was teach myself how to make a traditional Greek vasilopita cake to ring in the New Year. It's a beautiful celebration to honor the sweetness of life every New Year, but of course I had to put my own spin on it with a dash of whiskey and enhancing the orange flavor.

For background, in Greek culture, the vasilopita is traced back to the legend of Saint Basil who turned to the citizens of Caesarea to raise a ransom payment to end the attack on their city. With all the gold and jewelry gathered, the enemy was amazed by the collective effort and the siege was called off. However, not knowing how much each citizen contributed and what belonged to each person, Saint Basil returned the jewels by baking them into loaves of bread and distributed them throughout the city - with each receiving exactly what was shared as they celebrated peace in the city.

So, to this day in Saint Basil's honor, a coin is baked into a vasilopita (meaning "sweet bread of Basil") and cut every year on New Year's Day into several pieces for Jesus, the Virgin Mary, the less fortunate and then a slice for every member of the household in order of oldest to youngest.

This year it was wonderful to teach George how to make my spin on the vasilopita and I can't wait to continue this tradition with our family.



Parchment paper

3/4 cups butter (plus 1Tbl for the pan)

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

6 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

4 Tbl whiskey

3 cups flour

3 Tsp baking powder

1 cup Dole's banana, orange, pineapple juice

Zest of 2 oranges

Zest of 2 lemons

1 quarter (washed, wrapped in tinfoil)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 10 inch cake pan and cut a circle of parchment paper to place on the bottom of the pan.

  2. Measure the flour and baking powder into a bowl, set aside.

  3. In an electric mixer, combine the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar until fluffy and pale yellow.

  4. Add vanilla and whiskey, incorporating into the mixture. Fold in eggs one at a time. Scrape down sides of the bowl to ensure everything is mixed.

  5. Next, alternate adding flour and baking powder with banana, orange and pineapple juice, starting with dry ingredients first.

  6. Add the orange and lemon zest.

  7. Pour batter into prepared cake pan and bake for about 45 - 60 minutes, or until a toothpick is clean after inserting.

  8. Once removed from the oven and cooled, dust the top with powdered sugar (sometimes, cutting out the year and dusting over the numbers is fun!).


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