One of our yearly traditions is to bake a "Vasilopita" which is the Greek tradition of a cake to be shared by the whole group of people spending New Year's together, family and friends. The cake has a lucky charm baked into it, usually a silver or a gold coin. The person whose slice has the lucky coin in it is said to have particularly good fortune during the incoming year.
This cake is gluten free and has a delicate texture and a buttery taste even though we swapped out a large amount of the butter for high quality extra virgin olive oil. The combination of butter and olive oil in this cake produces a springier and less dry cake crumb. We always aim to substitute healthier extra virgin olive oil, low in saturated fat, for the highly saturated fats traditionally used in baking, such as butter or low-quality and low-nutritional value, inexpensive seed oils. We used a round cake form with an 18cm diameter, which gave us a cake about 5 cm tall.
This year we decorated with fresh pomegranate seeds which symbolize abundance, prosperity and plentifulness. Like high quality extra virgin olive oil, pomegranate is a fruit high in antioxidants and with many health benefits. We love the jewel colour it adds to our dishes and the little bursts of sweet juiciness it gives to our dishes.
55 gr butter, softened
175 gr sugar
70 gr Opus oléa extra virgin olive oil
zest of half an orange
220 gr milk
30 gr brandy
1 tsp vanilla extract
30 gr almonds, roughly chopped
400 gr all purpose gluten free flour (we used Doves Farm)
1 tsp baking powder
1 lucky charm or coin (can be wrapped tightly into aluminum foil for hygiene reasons and to not react with the cake batter).
2 tbsp cream cheese, mixed w 1 tsp icing sugar
1 fresh pomegranate to use seeds for decoration
Preheat you oven to 180 degrees Celsius (360 degrees Fahrenheit). Line a cake form with baking paper and butter to prevent the cake from sticking. Place your prepared cake form on a baking tray.
You will need three bowls. Take the first bowl and add the sugar, butter and 1 egg and start beating with an electric mixer. Once it has come together start adding the other eggs one by one and beat until you have a light and slightly fluffy mixture. Then start slowly adding the Opus oléa in a thin steady stream and at maximum power of your mixer, so that it fully incorporates without separating the mix. Once that has happened, mix in the orange zest.
In the second bowl mix the milk with the brandy and the vanilla extract.
In the third bowl, use a whisk to mix the flour with the baking powder and the almonds.
Now use a silicone spatula to gently fold 1/3 of the dry ingredients bowl (nr. 3) into the bowl nr 1 with the eggy mix. Once this is fully incorporated (please try to not overmix), add 1/3 of the wet ingredients in bowl nr, 2 and incorporate. Continue in this order until all your ingredients are incorporated.
Gently pour your batter into your prepared cake form on the baking tray, drop in the prepared lucky charm and place in the center of the preheated oven. Bake for 35-45 minutes depending on your oven. The cake is ready once it is golden brown on the top and a skewer inserted into the center of the cake and pulled out after about 10-15 seconds, comes out clean. When your cake is done let it cool.
In the meantime use a small bowl to mix the cream cheese and the icing sugar so the form a soft smooth cream. Deseed your pomegranate by cutting it in a few pieces and then gently popping the seeds out onto a plate or bowl, getting rid of all the pith and whitish inner membranes.
Level the top of your cake if needed and then use a palette knife (or other knife with a smooth edge) to evenly spread the sweetened cream cheese over the top. Decorate with the pomegranate seeds. We used white icing to write out the year.
To buy Opus oléa click here.