A healthy and fruity version of the Greek traditional New Year’s cake.
Hard to believe but the last day of the year is actually here! In a few hours, 2017 will be over and we’ll welcome a new year with expectations, dreams and wishes that long to be realized.
It’s really impressive how much the idea of something new can transform our mindset! Just the thought of a new beginning, makes us more optimistic and we feel as if we can erase anything that we don’t like from the year that’s coming to an end. On the first day of the new year, we are more ready than any other day to set goals. And which is the first goal that comes to mind after a long festive period of overeating and indulging? Healthy eating, exercise and a fast-as-lightning shedding of the extra pounds!
But let’s not forget the New Year’s festivities. So, if your New Year’s Day schedule is already filled with parties, you might want to reconsider and actually set your plan into motion on the second day of the year. Even on a family table, I’m sure there are some New Year’s traditions that involve food, right?
In Greece, the first sweet treat of the year is called “vasilopita”, named after Saint Vasilios, whose memory is celebrated by the Greek Orthodox church on the first day of the year. The cake symbolizes his benevolence and kindness, as he was the first one who, in an attempt to share pieces of gold to a number of poor people, he hid them in small bread buns so that the gold would be distributed fairly since it wasn’t enough for all of them. In his memory, the New Year’s cake is cut into pieces for all family members and guests and it carries the gift of luck and prosperity for the one lucky person who will find the coin that is hidden inside it.
There are numerous different recipes for this cake. Each family usually has their own favorite one. I have experimented with many different recipes throughout the years and even though my kids have already decided on their favorite, I continue to try new ideas. This year, I tried to create a special, healthier recipe and it’s the one I’m sharing with you today.
A fruity cake, made with applesauce instead of butter or vegetable oil, and filled with the sweetness and the different texture of a mixture of my favorite dried fruit. Figs, apricots, sultanas and cranberries. You can add it to your New Year’s menu as a dessert and it’s also ideal for breakfast or brunch. And if you want, you can also hide a coin wrapped in foil inside it, before or after baking, and find out who the lucky one will be this year!
New Year's cake with dried fruit
- 1 ½ cup strong flour (hard wheat)
- ½ cup instant oats
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup applesauce
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ cup orange juice
- Zest from 1 orange
- ¼ cup buttermilk
- ¼ cup brandy
- ¼ cup coarsely chopped walnuts
- ¼ cup mixed dried fruits (e.g. sultanas, chopped apricots, cranberries, chopped figs, etc.)
- Icing sugar for topping
– Preheat the oven at 375°F / 175°C.
– Grease and flour a round 9-inch baking pan.
– Separate the eggs and beat the egg whites into a stiff meringue. Set aside.
– In a large bowl, stir together the flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Set aside.
– In the bowl of a standing mixer, in medium speed, beat together the sugar and applesauce and add the egg yolks. Continue beating and add the vanilla extract, the orange zest and the orange juice.
– Reduce speed and alternately add the flour, brandy and buttermilk.
– Stop the mixture and add the meringue, chopped walnuts and dried fruit. Gently mix with a rubber spatula.
– Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes.
– Let it cool completely and remove from the pan. Top with sifted icing sugar and serve.