You became for the Church a solid foundation,
and for all mankind strengthened by your teaching,
you became a harbor of refuge,
O Venerable Basil who reveals heaven’s mysteries!
- To learn more about St. Basil the Great and the tradition of Vasilopeta, click here.
- For copywork on hymns and quotes by St. Basil, click here. (more coming)
- Recommended reading: Keeper of the Light: St. Macrina the Elder, Grandmother of Saints (and grandmother of St. Basil)
- St. Gregory of Nyssa (St. Basil’s brother) Eulogy for St. Basil
- St. Gregory of Nazianzen’s Eulogy for St. Basil
- St. Basil’s letter to St. Gregory the Theologian (Nazianzen) on Humility, prayer and Christian life
- Other writings by St. Basil the Great
According to The Complete Book of Greek Cooking, page 208:
Vasilopeta is a cake made in honor of Saint Basil, whose feast day is January 1. Cakes differ in the various regions of Greece: some are a type of bread, others a type of rich yeast cake, others are flat, made of cookie dough. The cakes may differ, but all include the customary hidden silver coin. It symbolizes good luck to the person who finds the coin in his piece of cake…The following recipe is the most traditional version.
- 2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 cups sugar
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 6 eggs
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 cup lukewarm milk
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 1/2 tbs. fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup chopped nuts (walnuts, almonds, or pistachios)
- 1/4 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.Cream butter and sugar together until light. Add flour and stir until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir baking powder into milk and stir into egg mixture. Mix baking soda and lemon juice and stir in. Mix well.Pour into a greased round layer cake pan 10 inches in diameter and 2 inches deep. Bake for 20 minutes. Slip inside cake, a coin wrapped in aluminum foil. Sprinkle with nuts and sugar and bake for 20 to 30 minutes longer, or until cake tests done. Cool 10 minutes in pan and invert onto serving plate. Serve right side up.
Personal note: Our family actually uses an 11 x 3 spring roll pan and it takes us longer, more like an hour and a half, to bake this vasilopeta recipe. In our experience, this recipe requires significantly more volume in pan size than what is stated.It is a tradition to take these cakes or loaves of bread to church to be blessed after the liturgy for St. Basil the Great.