by Gordon Nary
The Greeks commemorate this day Year's Day as the anniversary of St.. Basil's death, even though his feastday is June 14th. Both New Year's Day (St. Basil's Day) and New Year's Eve (St. Basil's Eve) are marked with special ceremonies honoring the most important saint in the Eastern Rite.
St. Basil was one of the four great doctors or theologians of the Eastern 0rthodox Church. St. Basil is also Greece's most popular saint and is also honored as the protector of the orphans, widows, and poverty stricken young girls.
Basil loved children and always assisted the sick and the homeless. He was the first bishop to establish orphanages and hospitals and old age homes. He first directed the attention of the Church to these unfortunate victims of society. .
According to tradition, Saint Basil would stick a gold gold coins inside of bread, throw the bread though the window of these poverty stricken young girls so that they could have a dowry and could be married. This tradition has resulted in the baking of vaslopita (Saint Basil's Bread) for this special day Vasilopita is traditionally made with a coin hidden in the dough and is cut according to a specific ritual. The first piece that is cut is supposed to be sent to the church, the second piece is to be offered to the poor ,the third piece goes to the oldest member of the family, and the remaining pieces go to the family's members in order of age. Whoever receives the piece with the coin is supposed to have good luck for the following year, although the coin traditionally given to the poor.
Vasilopita (St. Basil's Bread)
1 cup milk
1 cup butter
2 pk. dry yeast
8 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 TB grated lemon zest
2 tsp crushed anise
4-1/2 to 5 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 egg yolks beaten with 1 TB water
4 TB (each) sesame seeds and blanched almonds
Scald milk. Add butter am allow mixture to cool to l15 - 120 Fº. Stir in yeast until it is dissolved.
Beat 8 egg yolks. Beat in zest am anise. Add yolk mixture to milk mixture. '
Beat 3 cups of flour into milk/8N mixture (beat 15 minutes by hand or 8 minutes by mixer). Add balance of flour and salt. Beat again (10 minutes by hard or 5 minutes by mixer).
Cover dough. Set in a warm place am alia-! to rise until doubled.
Punch down, wrap dough in plastic wrap, and chill overnight.
Grease 2 9" cake pans. Divide dough in half and place in pans. set pans in a warm place and let dough rise until doubled.
Brush top of loafs with egg glaze. Sprinkle glazed tops with sesame seeds and a1mcnds. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until loafs.
© 2017 by Gordon Nary