Tuesday, January 1, 2013

(A lighter) St. Basil's Day Bread

The Feast of the Holy Hierarch, St. Basil is commemorated within the Church by the baking of St. Basil's Bread. (Click here to read the beautiful story of St. Basil the Great.)

This year, I was deemed with the task to bake this delicious and festive dessert. As I scanned through the various recipes, they all seemed to follow a similar trend: lots of butter, sugar and heavy ingredients. After the many days of Christmas cookies, egg nog and fudge the thought of another  overly sweet and syrupy dish made my insides squirm a little bit. So, I took a risk. I set out to construct a version of the delicious bread that is just a bit kinder to my already weighed down and sluggish body. After the preparing and baking was complete, we said a short prayer of St. Basil and . To my delight, the cake turned out beautifully, moist and scrumptious.

(This lighter version was adapted from this recipe.)

Vasilopita/ St. Basil's Day Bread



* 1.5 cup all purpose flour
* 1.5 cup whole wheat flour
* 2 tsp. baking powder
* 1/2 tsp. baking soda
* 1/4 tsp. salt
* 1/2 cup butter or earth balance
* 1/2 cup applesauce
* 2 Tbs. of coconut oil or some other oil
* 1/2 cup unbleached sugar (or to taste)
* 1/2 cup agave nectar or honey
* 3/4 cup greek or natural plain yogurt
* 1/4 cup of milk of choice (or can replace milk with an additional 1/4 cup of yogurt)
* 6 eggs
* 2 tsp. lemon juice
* 1 tsp. vanilla extract
* 1 tsp. almond extract
* Additional 1/2 cup of sweetener of choice (agave, table sugar, honey, truvia, stevia, xylotol, etc.)


*1/2 cup slivered almonds
*1/4 cup brown sugar
*1.5 Tbs. of honey/agave

(And don't forget the coin to put in the St. Basil's bread!)

To Prepare:

 Preheat oven to
350ºF and grease 2 8-inch cake pans and set aside.

In a small bowl combine almonds, brown sugar and honey/agave. Set aside. 

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and soda and salt. Set aside. In a larger bowl, beat sugar, butter and oil well. Mix in applesauce, agave and remaining sweetener. Mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after adding each one. Stir in lemon juice and vanilla and almond extract.

Begin slowly adding in flour mixture to larger bowl, alternating between flour and milk/yogurt. Mix all ingredients well. 

To Bake:

*Spread the almond topping around in the bottom of each 8-inch pan. (Make sure the pan is greased well.) You can also choose to top the cake after baking it if desired. 

* Wrap the St. Basil coin in foil and hide under the batter. 

*Split the batter between the two 8-inch greased pans and bake 25-30 minutes or until firm. If needed, turn the oven off and keep the cake in there for several additional minutes. 

*Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes, cut, serve, say your prayer (Apolytikion to St. Basil attached below) and enjoy!

May your year be blessed, regardless of if you find the coin or not!

Hymn to St. Basil the Great:

"In all the earth that received thy sayings, thy melody did resound, O righteous father, through which thou didst go about and proclaim, as worthy of God, the nature of creatures, cultivating the character of mankind, O thou of kingly Priesthood, Basil."


Products used in making this cake:
EfaGold Coconut Oil - 16 fl oz (Google Affiliate Ad)
Stevia Leaf Alcohol-Free - 2 fl oz (Google Affiliate Ad)

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