New Year’s/St. Basil’s Day Cake

There are recipes for this Greek holiday favorite that produce anything from a mildly sweet bread to a true cake baked in a tube pan. This is the bread-like recipe used in the Wilma story.

½ cup milk

½ cup plus 2 Tbsp. sugar

1 tsp. salt

¾ cup butter, melted and cooled

¼ cup lukewarm water

2 Tbsp. sugar

2 packages yeast

3 eggs, beaten

About 6 cups sifted flour

1 ½ tsp. ground cinnamon

1 ½ tsp. ground allspice

Melted butter

Beaten egg

Sesame seeds

Blanched almonds

Scald milk. Stir in the ½ cup plus 2 Tbsp. sugar, salt and butter. Cool to lukewarm. Measure into a bowl the lukewarm water and the 2 Tbsp. sugar. Sprinkle in the yeast and let stand until softened (5 to 10 minutes). Stir in the lukewarm milk mixture, and then the beaten eggs. Slowly add and stir in 3 cups of the flour and beat the mixture until smooth. Add the cinnamon and allspice. Add and mix in an additional 2 to 3 cups flour (add gradually so you can judge how much flour you actually need; I did not use as much flour as the recipe calls for). Turn out dough on a lightly floured board and knead until smooth and all the flour is absorbed.

Place dough in a greased bowl and brush the top lightly with melted butter. Cover with a clean towel and let rise in a slightly warm place, free from drafts, until dough has doubled in bulk (about 1 ½ hour). Punch down dough and knead lightly. Form into two 9-inch cakes, inserting an aluminum foil-wrapped coin in each, and place each cake in a layer cake pan or loaf pan.

Cover the pans with the towel and let the dough rise again for about an hour. Then brush the tops with beaten egg, sprinkle with sesame seeds and decorate with the almonds. Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven for 40-45 minutes or until cakes are a golden brown.

Note: if you want a sweeter, more cake-like Vasilopeta, you’ll find recipes for it on the Internet.