Vasilopita (Greek New Year's Bread)
makes one 9" round loaf
2¼ tsp active dry yeast
1 cup milk warmed, divided
6 tbsp + 1 tsp sugar
3½ to 4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil plus more for pan
scant ¾ tsp sea salt
2 egg, beaten
zest of one medium orange
sesame seeds or sliced almonds
extra egg + 1 tsp water for egg wash
For the dough
Activate the yeast in ½ cup of warmed milk with one tsp sugar. Let bloom and rise for 10 minutes until foamy. This is an important step for a sweet dough, to confirm the activity of the yeast.
Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer stir together 3½ cups of flour, the salt, and the 6 tbsp sugar in a large mixing bowl. When the yeast has become foamy and puffy, add to the flour mixture along with the olive oil, 2 beaten eggs, the rest of the milk, and the orange zest.
Knead on low until the dough comes together, then increase speed and continue to knead until the dough forms a smooth and somewhat tacky ball, about 10 minutes. Add up to ½ cup more flour if needed if the dough is quite sticky.
Cover the dough and allow to rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours, or until doubled in size.
Deflate the dough and knead for a few minutes. Form into a ball, flatten slightly, and place in a well-oiled 9-inch circular pan. Cover and allow to rise until doubled in size for about one hour in a warm place.
Using a very sharp knife, lame, or clean razor blade, carve decorative patterns into the top of each loaf; lines, leaves and crosses are all common.
Using a pastry brush, brush the top of each loaf with the egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds. (Sliced almonds are also sometimes used here.)
Bake in a preheated oven at 375ºF for 10 minutes, then turn the temperature down to 350ºF and bake for another 30 minutes or until the top of the loaf turns a deep chestnut brown.
Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before removing from the pan. Cool completely on a wire rack after removing the loaf. At this point, you can insert a clean coin into the bottom of the loaf using a toothpick or skinny knife to push it in.
Spin the loaf so no one knows where the coin is hiding. Cut into wedges and serve. (Be mindful of young children if following the coin tradition.)
Be sure to check out the rest of our Mediterranean breads:
- Bazlama from Magical Ingredients
- Cheese Fatayer from Sneha's Recipe
- Egyptian Mahlab Bread from Food Lust People Love
- Halloumi Cheese, Olive, and Mint Bread from Cook with Renu
- Ka'ak Asfar from Karen's Kitchen Stories
- Olive Oil Blueberry Muffins from A Day in the Life on the Farm
- Pita from Passion Kneaded
- Sourdough Man'oushe (Za'atar Flatbread) from Zesty South Indian Kitchen
- Vasilopita from A Messy Kitchen
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