Desserts

Vegan Vasilopita (Greek new year's cake) -Vegan βασιλόπιτα - Vegan in Athens

Fragrant Vegan Vasilopita – New Year’s cake

Today I want to share with you my vegan recipe for the traditional vasilopita which is technically a cake but for many it is considered the most important cake of the year! New Year’s vasilopita (Saint Basil’s cake) is part of our traditions with a history that arises from the very distant past according to several folklorists. In popular tradition, vasilopita is associated with a legend of Basil of Caesarea. According to one story, Basil called on the Roman Citizens Caesarea to raise a ransom payment to stop the siege of the city. Each member of the city gave whatever they had in gold and jewelry. When the ransom was raised, the enemy was so embarrassed by the act of collective giving that he called off the siege without collecting payment. Basil was then tasked with returning the unpaid ransom, but had no way to know which items belonged to which family so he baked all of the jewellery into loaves of bread and distributed the loaves to the city, and by a miracle each citizen received their exact share.

Vegan Vasilopita (Greek new year's cake) -Vegan βασιλόπιτα - Vegan in Athens

One of the several things that makes vasilopita so special is that it contains a hidden coin (or a dry bean!) which is supposed to give good luck to the receiver. A second thing is that vasilopita is associated with Saint Basil’s day, January 1. Nowadays, on New Year’s Day families cut the vasilopita to bless the house and bring good luck for the new year. This is usually done at the midnight of New Year’s Eve. The coin is hidden in the cake by slipping it into the dough before baking. At midnight the sign of the cross is etched with a knife across the cake. A piece of cake is sliced for each member of the family and any visitors present at the time, by order of age from eldest to youngest. We always cut a piece for our dog, Petra, or any other animal that may share our house, but as dogs cannot consume sugar we eat her cake and give her a special appropriate treat instead :).

Vegan Vasilopita (Greek new year's cake) - Vegan βασιλόπιτα - Vegan in Athens

But let’s go back to our recipe! Since we are not talking about any cake but the official cake of the year, the recipe of vasilopita should be successful and delicious. Unlike common belief, it is not the use of special animal-derived ingredients the secret of its success but the use of fresh, fragrant, plant-based, natural ingredients that give an amazing flavor and taste to our cake such as the zest and juice of freshly picked, organic oranges. Nearly each year, I like to make this easy vegan vasilopita which is sooooo fluffy and amazing that no one has ever noticed that it is 100% plant-based. For my recipe I use sunflower oil -or the oil of your choice- and to add flavor, a generous amount of lemon and orange zest – both of which can of course be replaced by shredded mastic, cinnamon and cloves. A small secret to give an extra boost of taste and texture is the addition of a small amount of grated coconut to my dough.

So good luck to your vasilopita and many wishes for a compassionate and peaceful new year.

Vegan Vasilopita (Greek new year's cake) - Vegan βασιλόπιτα - Vegan in Athens

Ingredients
(for a 22-24 cm diameter tray)

  • 1 1/2 cup plant-based milk
  • 1/2 cup sunflower oil
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • the zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup of dry shredded coconut
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup walnuts or dried fruit finely chopped (optional)

for decorating
1 / 2-1 cup coconut flour or powdered sugar

Vegan Vasilopita (Greek new year's cake) - Vegan βασιλόπιτα - Vegan in Athens

Method
1. Put in a bowl the sugar, the milk and the oil and mix with a hand mixer for a few minutes until the sugar is dissolved. Add the juice and zest, baking powder and soda and mix until they are fully incorporated.
2. Sift the flour and pour it into the mixture gradually, mixing continuously at low speed until fully incorporated.
3. Add the coconut and walnuts or fruits and mix lightly with a spoon or spatula.
4. Pour the mixture into a greased ana floured baking tray. Roll a coin (or a dry bean) to a baking sheet or foil and immerse it in the dough. Bake in a preheated oven at 175 ° C for about 50-55 minutes or until it is golden brown. Allow to cool, remove from the mold, sprinkle with powdered sugar or coconut flour and serve after midnight!

Vegan Vasilopita (Greek new year's cake) - Vegan βασιλόπιτα - Vegan in Athens

Note: It is advisable not to open the oven door at least for the first half an hour of baking to prevent your cake from losing its volume and fluffyness To make sure it’s properly baked inside, immerse a toothpick into the center into the center of the cake after 50 minutes of baking. If it comes out clean, then it is ready, otherwise bake it for a while -five more minutes should be enough.

Vegan Vasilopita (Greek new year's cake) - Vegan βασιλόπιτα - Vegan in Athens

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Vegan κουραμπιεδάκια αμυγδάλου χωρίς γλουτένη - Vegan gluten free Christmas almond kourabiedes - Vegan in Athens

Crunchy, vegan & gluten free almond snowball cookies (Christmas kourabiedes)

Christmas is about love and compassion to all creatures, human and non-human. Simply by making conscious choices regarding our personal shopping, the gifts we choose as well as our Christmas recipes (vegan recipes that do not contain animal-derived ingredients are harmless and peaceful, just as christmas should be!), we can transform ourselves, our lives to that light and the love we call for. It’s not difficult, it’s not unhealthy, it’s not expensive. It’s just a way of life.

As I’ m a little bit obsessed with baking, these days I experiment with new vegan recipes for my favorite Christmas baked goods. In order to be aligned with our traditions, these days I like to bake vegan kourabiedes (traditional Greek shortbread) and vegan melomakarona (vegan Christmas small no-honey balls) not only for my family but also for our friends, neighbors, colleagues. More or less I know what my friends and family prefer or what special diet each one follows and so I adapt my recipes accordingly.

Vegan κουραμπιεδάκια αμυγδάλου χωρίς γλουτένη - Vegan gluten free Christmas almond kourabiedes - Vegan in Athens

As some of my beloved persons do not consume gluten, when I prepare their Christmas batch, I choose to make either gluten-free and vegan melomakarona, or these crunchy snow balls or kourabiedes, made with vegan butter, lemon zest and a mix of organic corn flour and whole rice flour. In fact, although we consume gluten, this recipe is so delicious that I usually make one more batch for us too (two or three of them are left since the other day 🙂). Moreover, instead of dusting them with the icing sugar, I use coconut or almond flour which makes them even more delectable!

Vegan κουραμπιεδάκια αμυγδάλου χωρίς γλουτένη - Vegan gluten free Christmas almond kourabiedes - Vegan in Athens

When I make baked goods that call for butter, I like to substitute it with homemade vegan butter which works amazingly in baking, tastes amazing and is much healthier than most store-bought vegan butters out there. The one I made this time contains olive oil and coconut oil, both of which are resistant to baking. To anticipate any question, no, olive oil does not alter the taste of the vegan butter to a point that is unpleasant as the amount used is relatively small and of course coconut oil does the magic. They work perfectly together!

Vegan κουραμπιεδάκια αμυγδάλου χωρίς γλουτένη - Vegan gluten free Christmas almond kourabiedes - Vegan in Athens

Ingredients
(for 30 small kourabiedes)

  • 120 g vegan butter (homemade or store-bought)
  • 140 g (about 3/4 cup) of whole rice flour
  • 140 g (1 cup) whole corn flour
  • 100 g (1/2 cup) sugar (of choice)
  • 2 tbsp cognac or whiskey
  • 2 tbsp plant-based milk
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • zest from one lemon
  • vanilla (I used 1 tsp natural, homemade extract)
  • 3/4 cups almonds finely chopped

Vegan κουραμπιεδάκια αμυγδάλου χωρίς γλουτένη - Vegan gluten free Christmas almond kourabiedes - Vegan in Athens

for dusting

  • natural rose water (optional)
  • coconut flour or almond flour or powdered sugar

Vegan κουραμπιεδάκια αμυγδάλου χωρίς γλουτένη - Vegan gluten free Christmas almond kourabiedes - Vegan in Athens

Method
1. Melt vegan butter and pour it in a bowl along with the sugar, cognac and milk. Stir well until the sugar dissolves.
2. Add the baking powder, zest, corn flour and rice flour and knead until a soft, non-sticky dough has been formed. Add the almonds and knead a little more. Let the mixture in a cool place for at least half an hour to rest.
3. Preheat the oven to 170 oC. Take walnut-sized pieces of dough and shape small, thick discs or balls. You can also make bigger kourabiedes (in this case double up the recipe to get around thirty pieces). Line a baking tin with baking shit and arrange your kourabiedes, leaving at least two centimeters between them as they increase in volume during baking.
4. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Spray with a little rose water (if you’ ll use) while still warm and let them cool completely in the baking dish (if you try to get them out while hot they will fall apart).
5. When completely cool, sprinkle with coconut flour or almond flour or powdered sugar and serve.

Vegan κουραμπιεδάκια αμυγδάλου χωρίς γλουτένη - Vegan gluten free Christmas almond kourabiedes - Vegan in Athens

Vegan κουραμπιεδάκια αμυγδάλου χωρίς γλουτένη - Vegan gluten free Christmas almond kourabiedes - Vegan in Athens

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Vegan πουτίγκα μήλου με ψωμί, σταφίδες και κανέλα - Vegan, fat-free apple-pie bread pudding with cinnamon and raisins - Vegan in Athens

Vegan and fat-free apple-pie bread pudding

If there would be only one vegan recipe for autumn, this would definitely be a vegan apple pie. Any vegan apple pie, raw vegan or baked works! In fact, if I think of the first three images that come to my mind when I hear the word “autumn”, I will definitely end up with the brown leaves above and below the trees, the smell of the earth after the first rain – I know, this is not a visual image but a whole experience- and the image of a freshly baked, crusty apple pie just as it comes out of the oven.

Vegan πουτίγκα μήλου με ψωμί, σταφίδες και κανέλα - Vegan apple-pie bread pudding with cinnamon and raisins - Vegan in Athens

Since the beginning of October, we have made several vegan apple pies as well as other apple – based desserts such as my crispy cereal bars. However, the one dessert that we enjoy more often is a vegan, oil-free apple and bread pudding which is also one of the easiest, quickest and healthiest desserts I can think of. The ingredients to make it are really simple and cheap: apples, stale bread, a plant-based milk of choice and maybe some brown sugar or any other sweetener we like.

Vegan πουτίγκα μήλου με ψωμί, σταφίδες και κανέλα - Vegan apple-pie bread pudding with cinnamon and raisins - Vegan in Athens

In this simple but special apple pie pudding I appreciate that it takes minimal effort to prepare, it makes good use of simple ingredients we all have at home and it has a fantastic apple – bread – cinnamon taste and fragrance which is reminiscent of autumn, holidays, Christmas, warm clothes, carpets, afternoons drinking coffee with friends. Usually I like to garnish it as soon as it comes out of the oven with a simple vanilla flavored cream and of course I let it rest for at least half an hour before serving it.

Vegan πουτίγκα μήλου με ψωμί, σταφίδες και κανέλα - Vegan apple-pie bread pudding with cinnamon and raisins - Vegan in Athens

Ingredients

1st mixture

  • 1 medium bread loaf – white or whole wheat – (weighing about 300 grams)
  • 2 medium apples peeled and cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup blond raisins
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves

2nd mixture

  • 240 ml plant-based milk without sugar or sweeteners (soy milk works very well)
  • 240 g unsweetened apple sauce (store-bought or homemade)
  • 1 tbsp all purpose flour flour
  • ½ cup + 1 tbsp (85 g) of brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp cognac or orange juice

for the vegan vanilla custard cream

  • 1 3/4 plant-based milk, divided
  • 3 tbsp heaped brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 tbsp corn starch or rice starch
  • 1 tsp natural vanilla extract or vanillin

Vegan πουτίγκα μήλου με ψωμί, σταφίδες και κανέλα - Vegan apple-pie bread pudding with cinnamon and raisins - Vegan in Athens

Method

1. Cut the bread into slices, two centimeters thick and then cut each slice into cubes.
2. Put the bread, apple, cinnamon and cloves in a large bowl and mix with a spoon.
3. In another bowl, mix the vegan milk with the apple puree, cognac, sugar and flour until a homogeneous mixture is formed. Pour in the bread mixture and mix well.
4. Line a 25×16 cm baking pan with a non-stick baking paper and transfer the apple pudding mixture with a spoon, taking care not to leave any gaps. Gently press the surface to flatten.
5. Bake in a preheated oven at 175 oC for 45-50 minutes or until golden brown.
6. In the meantime, prepare the custard cream. Keep 1/2 cup of milk and pour the rest in a saucepan along with the sugar and bring to a boil. In the remaining milk, dissolve the starch and the vanilla. Then pour the starch mixture into the boiling milk and mix with a wooden spoon for 5-10 minutes until creamy. Transfer it to a glass or metal bowl and cover its surface with a clear film to prevent crust formation.
7. When the apple pudding comes out of the oven, pour over it half of the cream and let cool for at least half an hour. Serve hot with an extra spoonful of cream.

Vegan πουτίγκα μήλου με ψωμί, σταφίδες και κανέλα - Vegan apple-pie bread pudding with cinnamon and raisins - Vegan in Athens

Note: In this recipe I use rustic bread and in its most rustic form, that is to say, with the core, first of all because we do not buy packed bread. Many of the packed toast breads contain animal-derived ingredients, preservatives, hydrogenated fats and sugar. So we prefer to consume bread from local bakeries or homemade and with whole wheat flour. Rustic bread gives a nice, chewy texture to the pudding.
To make homemade apple sauce find instructions here.

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