Tuesday, December 30, 2008

All the good luck you can get

A Greek New Years morning tradition, this marvelous cake, Vaselopita, has a (chocolate) coin buried deeply in the batter and baked into the cake. The lucky bloke who gets the coin will have good luck for a year. Not to mention a slice of this soft, airy, almond-y wonder.

I tried to stay true to the original recipe but I would not mind a taddy bit of orange zest added at the folding stage of the batter for a little spark with my luck. I like sparky luck - what can I tell you? Entirely up to your palate. Also, I will confess a strange addiction to you now so we can get it out of the way and you can truly know who you are dealing with: I love Del Monte canned pears that are very very cold and still in their syrup. If I had these handy, I would have adored them with this cake. Laugh if you want to, but they have a fascinating and satisfying texture like none other.

Finally, as you will note, this cake and recipe are Mother-tester, baby approved.

Only the best luck for you, Pals...

Vaselopita, Greek New Year's Cake
Serves 12
Bon Appetit, December, 2001

1 cups (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for greasing pan
2 cups sugar, plus more for dusting cake
3 eggs, separated
2 eggs
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting pan
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 foil wrapped chocolate quarter coin
1/2 cup blanched slivered almonds (about 2 ounces)

Beautiful crumb on this cake, don't you think?

Preheat to 325°F. Butter and flour a 10 inch springform pan or close (the springform is not critical).

In the bowl of the mixer cream butter with 2 cups sugar on medium low until fluffy. Gradually beat in 3 egg yolks, 2 whole eggs, water, vanilla, and almond extract. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in small bowl, whisk to break up any lumps. Gradually mix dry ingredients into butter mixture (batter will be very thick). Transfer batter to a large bowl, set aside.Using clean, dry beaters, beat egg whites on medium until stiff peaks form. Fold egg whites into batter.
Pour batter into prepared pan. Press coin into cake. Sprinkle with blanched almonds.

Bake about 1 hour 10 minutes or until the center of the cake springs back to your touch. After 50 minutes you can dust the top of the cake with sugar for a little sparkle. Cool completely in pan on rack. Run knife around pan to loosen. Invert onto plate. Invert again to have almond-side up. Serve or wrap tightly and store at room temperature.

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