This is the Vasilopita I make lately. Our Greek New Years cake - that holds the lucky coin well, and everyone loves it. Whoever gets the coin in their slice has a lucky year ahead. We make it every New Year’s Eve and have it first thing on New Year’s Day. It is delicious and you can even make it without the coin at any other time of the year
Makes a 24 cm cake
50g dried cranberries
50g dried sour cherries, or large soft dark muscatels
1 tablespoon brandy or whisky
1 tablespoon port
60g shelled walnuts, broken up
180g butter, room temperature
240g light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
300g all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
120g (½ cup) thick Greek yoghurt
1 flourie (coin), washed and wrapped tightly in foil
about 30g light brown sugar
1 tablespoon each of brandy (or whisky) and port
Put the cranberries and cherries in a small bowl with the brandy and port and leave to soak for about 15 minutes. Toast the walnuts lightly in a dry frying pan until they just start to get golden. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Butter and flour a 24 cm (9 ½ inch) springform tin.
In a large bowl beat the butter and sugar with electric beaters until creamy. Add the vanilla and the eggs one by one, beating well after each (it will look a bit lumpy at this point but don’t worry). Sift in the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and ½ teaspoon of salt and mix to combine. Tip the soaking berries, cherries and their juice in, add the yoghurt and mix to combine to a thick batter. Fold in the walnuts.
Scrape out into the prepared tin, scraping the batter clinging to the beaters and push the flourie in on the outskirts but not quite to the edge so it is sideways, not flat (and therefore less easy to detect).* Bake in the centre of the oven for about 50-55 minutes or until deep golden and a skewer inserted comes out clean. If it is browning too fast, cover the edges with foil. When ready, remove from the oven, and leave to cool completely.
When completely cool or next day, remove the ring of the springform tin and make the glaze: In a small pot, melt the sugar with the brandy and port and 1 tablespoon of water. Let it bubble up for a couple of minutes, to dissolve the sugar and thicken a little, then remove from the heat. While the glaze is still warm, brush over the top of the cake and around the sides and leave to settle. Cut into slices to serve (tradition is to name the person whose slice it will be as you cut). Celebrate who has the coin and enjoy!
* You could also push the flourie (any weighty coin) in after baking. Once the cake has cooled, remove it from the base, make a small slit on the bottom towards the outskirts and push the coin in sideways, not flat.