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Greek Vasilopita Bread Recipe #BreadBakers

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Vasilopita, also known as Saint Basil’s Good Luck Bread, is a popular traditional Greek bread. In Greece and in many parts of Eastern Europe, Vasilopita is baked to celebrate New Year’s Eve. Following the Vasilopita tradition, the baker hides a coin in the bread and is considered a sign of good luck for the receiver.

Our host for the month Felice Geoghegan, when announced the Good Luck Bread Theme, I was extremely excited. I had this good luck bread, Vasilopita, for a long time in my head and now I had the reason too.

Saint Basil was known for his care for the poor. To help the poor, Saint Basil came up with a unique idea. He would ask the ladies of the church to bake bread with a hidden coin. The bread was then distributed among the needy. This way he could distribute money to the needy without demeaning them. And the bread followed the name, Saint Basil’s Good Luck Bread.

Saint Basils Good Luck Bread

Like traditional bread? Then you may be interested in:

There are tons of recipes on the internet for this famous Greek Vasilopita bread recipe. Traditionally this bread is baked with lots of sugar and eggs. I am a vegetarian and also keeps a check on the sugar intake. So it was time for me to make modifications in the traditional recipe. I baked Vasilopita recipe without eggs and with moderate sweetness. So for people who follow a strict vegetarian diet, this is going to be best Vasilopita ever.

 

Quick Notes

Tin Size 8” spring pan
Oven Temp 200 °C
Baking Time 30 min
MW Convection Temp 180 °C
Baking Time 30 min
Demold Instructions After 5 min
Cooling Time 2 hrs

I have curated the list of recommended tools and ingredients for baking. I recommend only tried and tested products that have given satisfactory results in my kitchen.

If you bake this recipe, please share a picture with me on my Instagram using #bakewithsonia

Vasilopita Bread Recipe

Every ingredient is important and plays a significant role, but when it comes to baking, I consider yeast to be the most important ingredient. I have been asked so many times now about the brand of yeast I use for my baking that I feel the need of making it public information rather than giving it one-on-one every time.

I have so far used almost 18 different brands and a variety of yeast. All of them are good, however, the brand that I have liked the most is Prime. Ever since I have used Prime Instant dry yeast, I have never tried any other brand. The results are wonderful, no aftertaste, good shelf life and easy to work with. If you plan to buy yeast and looking for a recommendation, go for it.

Prime Yeast

To start, in a jar/cup take lukewarm milk. Don’t overheat the milk as we are going to dissolve yeast into it and hot milk can kill the yeast. So the temperature of the milk should be between 36° C to 40°C. In lukewarm milk, dissolve 2 tablespoons of sugar and ¾ tsp yeast. Let the solution sit until it froths. In normal weather conditions, it will take approximately 5-10 min to activate.

This recipe reminds me of my Hokkaido Bread. In that bread, I have used milk for kneading, and water for making the tangzhong, however in this good luck bread I have used only milk.

Activated Yeast

In a kneading bowl, add flour, salt, orange zest, olive oil, and activated yeast solution. Using a wooden spoon start mixing everything. Initially, the dough will be quite sticky. Don’t worry it will be all right once you are done with kneading. Take this dough on lightly floured surface and start kneading.

Greek Vasilopita Dough

Continue to knead the dough until you get the soft, non-sticky and stretchable dough. Now place the kneaded dough into a greased bowl and cover it with a clean kitchen towel. Keep the bowl at some warm place until dough doubles.

Dough for Vasilopita

Presently the temperature at my place remains between 17 °C to 24 °C. So my dough took 50 minutes to rise. You don’t go by the time, but keep checking the volume. Depending on weather conditions at your place it can take lesser or longer time.

When dough doubles, gently punch it to release the air. Knead it for a minute or two. Shape it into a boule. And place it in greased 8” round pan. I have used 8” spring pan. Because of its loose bottom, it becomes easy to demold the bread after baking.

Vasilopita Dough

Cover the dough again with a kitchen towel and let the dough rest until it doubles. For the second rise, the dough took 40 minutes. After 40 minutes I kept my oven for preheating at 200 °C. When my oven was getting ready, I made some pattern on my bread using a sharp knife. Because this bread is known as Saint Basil’s Good luck bread, so I carved basil leaves on the boule and brushed it with milk.

I then decorated the bread with some sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds. This all is optional. You can do any design you want. Generally, people write a number of the year or make a cross.

My bread is now ready to go inside the preheated oven. Isn’t it looking pretty? When I made the Pumpkin Dinner Rolls the little pumpkin shaped bread stole people heart. I am sure the beauty of this bread is going to be a tough competition for my Pumpkin rolls.

Design on raw Vasilopita Bread

We will bake this bread in the preheated oven at 200 °C using the middle rack for 30 minutes. If you are not sure about the temperature of your oven, then I would suggest you to start using Oven thermometer for more accuracy.

My bread was done in 30 minutes and so I took it out from the oven. After resting it for 5 minutes, I demolded the bread. This is the time when I inserted the coin into my bread. Few people like to insert the coin into the dough before baking and few after baking. I feel it safe after baking. So using a sharp knife I made a cut in the base and inserted the coin and let the bread rest on cooling rack for overnight.

Baked Vasilopita Bread

Next day in the morning, the bread was ready to serve.  Overnight resting gave enough time to bread to cool down and made the crust soft. The texture of this Vasilopita recipe with orange zest stole my heart.

Vasilopita Bread Final

My son and his father fought a little on cutting the Vasilopita but finally, the son took over his dad. He was too excited to cut the bread. And he is the one who got the coin. I wish all the luck to him for this coming year and ever.

Good luck coin in Saint Basils Bread

Buy Tools and Ingredients used in this recipe

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#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all our of lovely bread by following our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated after each event on the #BreadBakers home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to foodlustpeoplelove@gmail.com.

This month, the Bread Bakers are making Good Luck Breads, a theme chosen by Felice from All That’s Left Are The Crumbs.

And don’t forget to check out all the amazing bread baked by our talented bakers ~

Vasilopita Bread Recipe
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Course: Main Course, Traditional
Cuisine: Greek
Servings: 1 Loaf

Ingredients

  • 300 gm All Purpose Flour
  • 2 tbs Sugar
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 3/4 tsp Yeast
  • 1 tbs Orange zest
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 225 ml Milk
  • 2 tbs Seeds Optional

Instructions

  • In a jar, add lukewarm milk, sugar, and yeast. Stir it and let it rest for 5 min.
  • In another bowl add flour, orange zest, salt and activated yeast solution.
  • Start binding the flour using a wooden spoon Add olive oil and mix.
  • Take the dough out of dusted counter and knead it for 5-7 minutes or until it becomes smooth.
  • Once kneading is done, keep the dough in a greased bowl and cover it with clean kitchen towel.
  • Let the dough rest until it becomes double.
  • When dough doubles, punch it to release the air and shape it into a boule.
  • Place the shaped dough boule into a greased 8” round pan.
  • Cover it with kitchen towel and let it rest until doubles again.
  • Meanwhile keep the oven for preheating at 200 °C.
  • Using a sharp razor or knife, make the pattern of your choice of dough and brush it with milk. Decorate it with different seeds.
  • Bake the bread in preheated oven for 30 min.
  • After 30 minutes, take the bread out from oven.
  • Demold the bread and using a knife make a cut on the bottom of the bread to insert coin into bread.
  • Let the bread rest on cooling rack minimum for 2 hrs before serving.

Notes

  1. Every ingredient in the recipe and its quantity has its own significance. Do not alter them.
  2. This recipe is a tried and tested recipe. Substitute the ingredient/s only at your own risk.
  3. You can adjust the servings of this recipe in the “Recipe Card” and all the ingredients and their measurement will automatically adjust.
  4. To knead the dough you can use a combination of milk+ water as well.
  5. Instead of using orange zest, you can add lemon zest.
  6. If you want to add eggs then for the given measurements of the ingredients, use 2 eggs of medium size (approx. weight should be 52 gm each).
  7. Pattern and seeds are optional.
  8. In case you feel your dough is too wet to handle then add 50 gm flour.
  9. In case your dough is too dry and hard then add extra liquid accordingly.
  10. Baking time can vary oven to oven. So keep an eye.
Tried this recipe? Share it with me on Instagram!Mention @bakewithsonia or tag #bakewithsonia

18 COMMENTS

  1. Hello, i love reading your recipes.
    Are you from mumbai, if yes then could yoh please mail.me details about your workshop please.
    Thank 5

    • Khushi

      I am not from Mumbai however I Conduct my workshops in various cities across India. To know more details about my Mumbai workshop, please contact @ 7262959006

      Happy Baking
      Sonia

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Sonia Gupta

Baking Instructor & Food Blogger

I’m Sonia Gupta, and I am on my mission to transform home-makers into home-bakers. Baking is an essential skill that every mother must know so to avoid their children eating unhealthy market baked items. My goal is to help you learn a skill that will keep your children happy and healthy.

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