Vasilopita cake, as an old Greek tradition, is cut by families on New Year’s day to bless the home and deliver prosperity in the next year. This is regularly arranged at midnight on New Year’s Eve all over Greece. Interestingly, this tradition includes a special coin which is hidden in the cake. Some families slip the coin in the batter before baking, while others do it when the cake is baked.
At midnight, or even tomorrow on the 1st of January, a piece of cake is cut for every member of the family and any guest present at the time. It’s important to do it by the order of age – from eldest to youngest. Pieces are also cut for different symbolic persons or historical figures. This, of course, depends on specific family customs. It could be saints, politicians, popular athletes, sport’s clubs, poor people, friends and family members that live far away… Some even do it for their enemies! 😉
But what is it made of?
The modification of the original recipe brought so many different versions. Of course, traditional Vasilopita is a carby and sugary cake made with wheat flour and sugar. However, it always includes some Keto-friendly ingredients that inspired me to create a 100% Keto Vasilopita.
What a surprise! It turned out better and tastier than any Greek carby version. And trust me, I have tried so many!
Before we jump to the recipe, let’s see how this tradition became so popular…
Where did Vasilopita come from?
In conventional story-telling, Vasilopita is linked with the myth of Saint Basil. According to a legend, St. Basil asked the residents of Caesarea to gather a payment to stop the siege and constant attacks on their city. Each citizen contributed with whatever they had in gold and jewellery. When the payoff was raised, the attacker was so ashamed by the act of collective offerings that they called off the siege and refused to take the payment at all. St. Basil was then given a task to return the gold and jewellery to the citizens.
According to the legend, he did not know which valuable items belonged to which family. So he decided to hide all of the jewellery and gold into loaves of bread. Then he distributed the bread to the citizens, and by a miracle, each citizen received their exact piece. There are stories that connect Saint Mercurius with this, and that leads us to the ancient myth of Hermes and his connection with wealth and money.
Ancient Greek connection
Around 21st of December, ancient Greeks celebrated Heliogena, the birth of sun or winter solstice. It was the biggest festival celebrating the birth and arrival of the light-bringer. Even though Helios is often associated with Apollon, on this day, ancients celebrated the birth of Dionysus and Hercules. There is also an alternative interpretation of the Vasilopita tradition.
This legend can be connected both the western and the eastern celebration of ancient Greek Kronia, the festival of King Cronus. For the Romans, this was Saturnalia!
The tradition can be closely connected to the celebrations of the 12th night (also known as Christmastide) in the western European countries.
How was Vasilopita Ketonised?
We ketonised it on all levels of ketonisation. First of all, we used wonderful organic almonds and walnuts and roasted them just enough to get the best of their aroma. Then we grind them and used as our main flour. Wonderful organic lemon zest gave the main note, and sparkling mineral water lifted it to another level of texture and lightness.
We played with the icing and went artistic. You can, of course, exclude this part and just use some powdered stevia for decoration. What’s most surprising, this Keto version can be prepared at any time of the year because it tastes so refreshing and moist that it can easily pass for a great summer Keto cake!
Let’s get to work and create our Keto Vasilopita, or shall I say Chronopita!
- 170 g (1,5 stick) butter grass-fed
- 3 tbsp coconut oil
- 8 large eggs free-range
- 4 tbsp Stevia Erythritol blend
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp powdered citric acid alternatively use the juice of 1 whole lemon and add more coconut flour in this case
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp psyllium powder
- 1 tbsp natural rum extract (aroma)
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 12 tbsp roasted almonds and walnuts finely ground
- 1 tbsp coconut flour
- 6 tbsp sparkling mineral water
- 1 whole lemon zest Organic, finely grated
- 100 ml (1/2 cup) sparkling mineral water
- 50 g cacao butter
- 250 g (1 cup) Mascarpone
- 4 micro-scoops 100% stevia extract powder
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 12 drops Natural Peppermint Flavouring optional
- 12 drops Natural Raspberry Flavouring optional
- 6 whole almonds
- 4 whole fresh mint leaves
- 6 whole raspberries
Mix a cup of almonds and a cup walnuts and place them on the baking sheet. Roast them in the oven at 180ºC (350ºF) for 10 minutes. Let them cool down a bit and then finely grind them in a food processor.
Beat the eggs with the sweetener and add sea salt. Melt the butter with coconut oil and slowly add to the eggs while beating constantly.
Add citric acid. (If you decide to use lemon juice, add it at this point). Now add vanilla extract and natural rum aroma. (If you cannot find rum aroma, you can use regular dark rum, the alcohol will evaporate during the baking) Add a tablespoon of psyllium powder and baking soda. Mix well.
Start adding ground nuts spoon by spoon. Slowly add sparkling mineral water. Now, add 1 tbsp of coconut flour and mix well. If the batter gets too thick, add just a bit more sparkling mineral water. In the end, add finely grated lemon zest and mix well.
Grease a 9" (30 cm) round cake pan with some coconut oil and pour in the batter. Preheat the oven to 170ºC (330ºF) and bake the cake for 60 minutes. Let it cool down a bit before taking it out of the oven. Then leave it in a cool place to cool down completely.
Warp a coin in aluminium foil and gently push it into the cake.
Place sparkling mineral water and cacao butter into a deep saucepan. Add 250g (1 cup) mascarpone, sea salt and 4 micro scoops of 100% stevia extract powder. (If your Mascarpone is not a thick variety, skip the mineral water)
Heat it over low temperature until it unifies. Mix with a whisk.
Divide the icing into 3 parts. The largest amount should remain white. Colour the two remaining parts with natural food flavourings so that you get green and red icing for decoration. Place the icing in the refrigerator and wait for the cake to completely cool down.
First, cover the cake with the white icing using a spatula. Then, using a piping bag decorate it with green and red icing. Traditional Vasilopita always has the next year written, so this year write 2019. Add whatever wording you like! Finish the decoration with some nuts, mint leaves and frozen berries.
When serving the cake, make it into a small ceremony! Let the luckiest person find the coin in their piece of cake and celebrate his/her happiness together.