Cakes

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 autumn fig cake with olive oil – sugar-free

Figs are a fruit that reminds me of the sun, the deep smell of the fig tree leaves, the sea. This ancient, historical fruit loves to grow not only in the gardens, but also in the ravines, on the rocks and on the dry, Greek mountains. Fresh figs always bring me back to that fig tree that still exists in my grandmother’s house, where I used to climb to gather figs as a child. My grandmother was always telling us to half them before eating them to check for any small intruders decided to eat them before us. How difficult was it when I was a kid to pick out the little white intruders from the identical thousands of white filaments of the fruit!

Βέγκαν πίτα - κέικ με φρέσκα σύκα και ελαιόλαδο χωρίς ζάχαρη - Vegan fresh fig cake - pie with olive oil, sugar-free - Vegan in Athens

For the beautiful memories they bring in my mind and their wonderful flavor, every year, when figs are in season, I enjoy them not only freshly cut, usually just under the fig tree, but also in vegan recipes such as my juicy vegan tart with figs and almonds or my fig nice-cream with blackberries. Another recipe with figs that we love very much is today’s cake with figs. This cake has the texture of a very tender and aromatic cake with sweet and juicy bites of figs hidden here and there, softened and melty through baking.

Βέγκαν πίτα - κέικ με φρέσκα σύκα και ελαιόλαδο χωρίς ζάχαρη - Vegan fresh fig cake - pie with olive oil, sugar-free - Vegan in Athens

The figs of today’s recipe are the figs I picked yesterday from two different fig trees I found in the forest and I shared them with a turtle I met along the way. Although we were both hungry, I finally managed to save the figs I needed to make the recipe I am sharing today with you!

Turtle eating figs - Χελώνα που τρώει σύκα - Vegan in Athens

Ingredients

(for a 26-28cm diameter baking pan)

  • 1 1/4 cup plant-based milk at room temperature (I used this)
  • 1/2 cup light olive oil or oil of choice
  • 1 cup agave nectar or other liquid sweetener
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 pack (500 g) self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp natural vanilla extract

additionally

  • 20 ripe figs washed and halved
  • almond flakes for sprinkling

Βέγκαν πίτα - κέικ με φρέσκα σύκα και ελαιόλαδο χωρίς ζάχαρη - Vegan fresh fig cake - pie with olive oil, sugar-free - Vegan in Athens

Method

1. In a bowl, mix the vegan milk with the agave with the mixer. Add the lemon juice, olive oil and vanilla and finally the flour while stirring well.
2. Brush with oil a round baking pan or cake mold and sprinkle with flour. You can also lay with non-stick baking paper. Apply half of the cake mix to the mold and arrange half of the figs with the cut side up. Cover with the rest of the dough and arrange the remaining figs on top. Sprinkle with the almond flakes.
3. Bake in a preheated oven at 175 oC for 45-50 minutes or until the cake is golden. The first 30-35 minutes be patient and do not open the oven door. To find out if it’s ready, insert a toothpick in the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, the cake is done. Otherwise, if it comes out wet, you may need few more minutes before checking again.

 

 

Βέγκαν πίτα - κέικ με φρέσκα σύκα και ελαιόλαδο χωρίς ζάχαρη - Vegan fresh fig cake - pie with olive oil, sugar-free - Vegan in Athens

Note: The skins of the figs become soft and melty with baking, so you do not have to remove them. Keep in mind that figs are good sources of calcium which is another reason to enjoy them fresh as well as in recipes like this one.

Βέγκαν πίτα - κέικ με φρέσκα σύκα και ελαιόλαδο χωρίς ζάχαρη - Vegan fresh fig cake - pie with olive oil, sugar-free - Vegan in Athens

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Χριστουγεννιάτικη πουτίγκα - Vegan British Christmas Plum pudding - Veganinathens.com

British Christmas pudding – vegan, moist and delicious

When I was a child and especially a teenager I used to to imagine that when I would grow up, I would choose to travel all around the world during Christmas, in order to come in contact with other cultures, different customs and traditions. However, every time I’ve traveled during Christmas holidays in northern destinations, I had a really hard time with the cold weather, which seemed a very hostile condition to a tropical climate enthusiast like me – I used to live in a place where one could go swimming at Christmas! Therefore, I had to invent other ways to fulfill my childhood dreams and experience other cultures without leaving the relatively warm Greek climate.

Χριστουγεννιάτικη πουτίγκα - Vegan British Christmas Plum pudding - Veganinathens.com
Fortunately for me it was not that hard. As a true food lover, even the smell of food, the image and the taste of a juicy dessert, prepared according to authentic recipes of different countries, are enough to make me travel mentally miles away in space and time, in countries and cities that I would actually like to visit only during summer, when the temperatures raise above zero. That’ s how we started incorporating recipes, music and customs from other countries in our house, making Christmas a multicultural, peaceful day. One of our favorite recipes is the traditional English Christmas pudding.
So every year, in the last weekend of November – right, November! – me and my partner, decorate the house with colorful Christmas lights and a Christmas tree and afterwards we prepare together our vegan English Christmas pudding. It may seem too early, but according to tradition, Christmas pudding has to be prepared at least one month before Christmas, in order to age and acquire its full taste and flavor. If one month seems a lot, let’s just say that in England, they used to prepare this dessert even one year before, shortly after Christmas.
This is a recipe that really works, it is super tasty and probably noone will notice that it’s vegan. What I really like about it is that each small bite has a strong taste of Christmas, cinnamon, fruits and brandy. Even though it takes quite a lot ingredients and patience, it is really worth trying.

Χριστουγεννιάτικη πουτίγκα - Vegan British Christmas Plum pudding - Vegan in Athens

Ingredients

  • 150 g. dried figs
  • 200 g. dried cranberries
  • 150 g. sultanas
  • 100 g. black raisins (or more sultanas)
  • 200 g. dried apricots
  • 150 g. candied ginger
  • 200 g. candieded citrus or orange peel
  • 125 g. mixed candied or dried fruit, with or without sugar such as pineapple, papaya, various berries, cherries
  • 2 small green apples, coarsely grated
  • 1 large carrot peeled and coarsely grated
  • 2 oranges (juice and zest)
  • 1 lemon (juice and zest)
  • 225 g. brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 100 g. margarine (I use a homemade)
  • 150 g. bread, crumbled
  • 180 g. all purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 40 ml rum
  • 40 ml brandy
  • 40 ml port wine or liqueur of your choice (orange liqueur is my favorite)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg

Χριστουγεννιάτικη πουτίγκα - Vegan Plum pudding - Vegan in Athens

To serve

40 ml rum or brandy

Powdered sugar or “drunk” vanilla sauce

For the “drunk” vanilla sauce

  • 150 ml vegan milk (preferably homemade such as almond or coconut milk)
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 ½ tbsp rice starch or corn starch
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 shots of rum or brandy

Χριστουγεννιάτικη πουτίγκα - Vegan Plum pudding - Vegan in Athens

Χριστουγεννιάτικη πουτίγκα - Vegan Plum pudding - Vegan in Athens

Χριστουγεννιάτικη πουτίγκα - Vegan Plum pudding - Vegan in Athens

Method
1. Chop all the dried fruits (except from the cranberries and raisins which do not need to chopping) and place them in a bowl together with the flaxseed. Pour in the bowl the alcoholic beverages, mix and allow to marinate for 1 hour.
2. Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl: flour, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, baking powder and soda.
3. Melt margarine in a saucepan and put it in a large bowl together with the sugar. Stir with a wooden spoon and add gradually the juice of the citrus fruits and the zest. Add the dried fruit together with the remaining soaking liquid, the grated apples, the grated carrots, the crumbled bread and the flour. Stir for a while, until completely homogenized.
4. Prepare a metal pudding mould of 2 liter capacity or use two smaller of 1 liter capacity.
Brush or spray the inner of the mould with some oil or margarine and lay its bottom with a round piece of greaseproof paper, equal to the diameter of the bottom. Fill the mould up to ¾ of its volume. Cut another round piece of greaseproof paper with a diameter equal to the mouth of the mould and press with your hands to cover the dough.
5. Cover the pan with more greaseproof paper tying it around tightly, using a string suitable for food.
Place the mould in a pot of water. The water should reach the ¾ of the height of the mould.
Put to simmer for 5-6 hours on low heat, but from time to time add some boiling water in the pot as it evaporates while simmering.
6. Let cool and put in a cool and dry place (over the cupboard maybe) for one month, covered and tight with the greaseproof paper. This procedure of aging is necessary for the perfect combination of flavors. Thanks to the alcohol, sugar and dried fruit it is not going to spoil but in contrast it becomes tastier as time passes.
7. How to serve: The pudding can be served plain or sprinkled with powdered sugar or with a creamy sauce. Usually I prepare one hour before serving the vanilla sauce as follows: in a saucepan, add the milk, the sugar, the vanilla and the starch and stir to dissolve as we don’t want any lumps. Put the mixture to cook over medium heat and stir constantly until it thickens and comes to boil. Remove from heat and add the brandy, stirring constantly. Transfer the cream to a glass bowl and cover its surface with a film so as not to form crust. Boil the pudding again for about one hour before serving, with the procedure described above. Then invert on a serving platter, remove the greaseproof paper, pour with 40 ml rum or brandy and flambe. This process is very impressive and your guests will surely enjoy it! Cut into pieces and serve with the cream.

Χριστουγεννιάτικη πουτίγκα - Vegan Plum pudding - Vegan in Athens

 

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