It’s St. Basil’s day here on the New Calendar, and thus begins the month of sharing Vasilopita with friends and family. Unless you’re allergic, in which case you will never, ever get the coin. *sad trombone music*
Cheer up! Always Lent has your back. Today I’m sharing two Vasilopita recipes that you might be able to adapt for your allergy needs. (And if not, comment your restrictions. The team will try to find a recipe for you that works.) First up, bread Vasilopita.
There are two basic types of Vasilopita (Basil bread/cake) recipes: the cake version, and the bread version. Bread versions are similar in texture to a spiced brioche, and gluteny recipes run the gamut in complexity. If you’re gluten-free, you know that bread is tricky to make.
Enter the Glutino Favorite Sandwich Bread* mix and the King Arthur Gluten Free Bread & Pizza Crust Mix*. I spent a few hours this week testing and adapting these mixes into Vasilopitas. They both turned out great!
First up, the Glutino Favorite Sandwich Bread Mix, eggless version:
Because I have five children, I sometimes get distracted in the kitchen. On Friday, this happened in the best possible way. Short version of the story: I forgot to add the sugar and three eggs, and the recipe still came out well. It was a little dry, but you could serve it with a glaze on top. It was a good tea bread even without sugar.
Long version of the story: My son Basil who has autism has only recently started speaking in one and sometimes two-word sentences, after 8 months of early intervention. He walked up to me when I turned on my stand mixer with the bread hook to beat this dough. I lifted him and told him I was making Vasilopita. I started to walk away, when he pointed (! big deal for a child with autism!) and asked, “What is that thing?” (!!!) I took him to the mixer and said, “Mixer.” He repeated, “Mixer. Round and round,” while making a circular hand gesture (!!!!). Yes, the long version of the story is a miracle tale about the intercession of St. Basil for his little one when I started making Vasilopita. So, yes, this is kinda miraculous bread.
Here’s what I recommend to turn either of these bread mixes into Vasilopita:
- Preheat oven according to the recipe for baking a regular 9″x5″ loaf.
- Add to dry mix ~2 teaspoons mahleb, or to taste
- Add to dry mix 1-1.5 teaspoons crushed mastic resin (the kind for cooking, not chewing gum)
- Optional: add 1 teaspoon of almond extract or vanilla extract.
- Add 5 tablespoons of a sugar of your choice (such as raw cane sugar or coconut sugar –NOT stevia/artificial sweeteners)
- Grease a 9″ round cake pan well and line the bottom with parchment if you’d prefer (it comes out of the pan fine without the parchment, though)
- After all ingredients are combined, mix in a stand mixer with dough hook for 3-5 minutes.
- Add a coin that has been wrapped in aluminum foil, and stir it so you don’t know where it is in the dough.
- Turn dough into pan and smooth it with a spoon. Spray top of dough with coconut oil or brush with butter/oil.
- Leave it to rise in a warm spot for 40 minutes. (I leave mine on top of my preheating oven, because my kitchen is cold in the winter otherwise.) The dough is too spread out to rise much, due to the lack of gluten. Let it be and ignore the descriptions on the box.
- Do not beat down dough! You don’t want to lose any loft that it has acquired.
- Place in the preheated oven and bake according to package instructions for the regular loaf size.
- The Vasilopita will rise to a nice dome in the oven, though it seems not to rise much beforehand.
- Optional: sprinkle with powdered sugar, and write the year on the top with almonds or sunflower seeds.
I know for sure that the Glutino mix works with or without the eggs, provided you beat the dough a little longer to activate the gums in the mix. I have not tested the King Arthur mix without the eggs, but they were almost identical in ingredients and instructions. The recipes can also be made dairy free by following instructions on the package. I tested the recipes with milk and butter.
If you do not have mahleb or mastika, substitute: 1/4 teaspoon cardamom, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger. If you are not allergic to nuts, the closest taste to mahleb is 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon of almond extract. I like cardamom, so I add it on top of the traditional spices as well.
This is a BASIC recipe. Lots of people enjoy spicing their Vasilopita a bit more, with orange peel, cinnamon, more almond extract, and so on. The final result is like the dry part of a cinnamon roll (if you can remember what those were like). I like to make a simple glaze of 1 cup powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons maple syrup, and a little (1-2 tablespoons) boiling water from my tea kettle, and pour it over the top to harden before the powdered sugar. It makes the overall effect a little sweeter for the children, and it turns the bread into more of a coffee cake for our teatime.
If you need more protein in your bread but you can’t eat nuts (the cake recipe I’m posting next is almond based), another option is to add an additional egg, a few tablespoons ground flax seeds, peanut butter powder (allergy-dependent), a few tablespoons poppy seeds, or a few tablespoons of pre-soaked chia seeds (allergy-dependent, and will be visible). OR if you can eat eggs, turn your slice into French toast.
*The links to the bread mixes on Amazon are Affiliate links. If you shop through them, I will receive a small commission, though the prices will be the same for you. I use any Affiliate income to pay for the cost of blog space so it doesn’t have to come out of my family’s budget.*