Suspense mounts… the hidden coin is still somewhere within this cake!
St. Basil’s Day is January 14/1
Some lovely St. Basil the Great Quotes
The tradition of the St. Basil Cake is as follows… To avoid the wrath of the cruel emperor Julian, St. Basil of the Great – Bishop of the city of Caesarea in Asia Minor, helped direct the city avoid destruction by Julian’s army. Julian mistakenly thought he had been insulted while passing through the drought stricken countryside and vowed to return after the war with Persia to raze Caesarea. Time passed, and while anticipating the return of emperor Julian, the city prayed for deliverance. Meanwhile the saint collected jewelry and gold from each family which would be presented to Julian to appease his anger. Unexpectedly, the news of Julian’s death came, and the people decided to donate most of the treasure collected for Julian, to the church instead. St. Basil built a hospital and orphanage and the rest of the treasure was to be returned to the people. Of course, St. Basil did not know who owned each piece of gold or jewelry, and this is when the miracle occurred. Illuminated by the Grace of God, St. Basil instructed the city bakers to bake many, many, sweet buns. St. Basil blessed the gold and jewelry and threw them into the dough. He distributed the baked buns to the people and tradition says each household received their own jewelry baked inside each loaf!
This traditional cake celebrates the amazing life of St. Basil, and the miraculous return of the coins/jewels!
Cutting the Cake: At home, after the Divine Liturgy, the cake is loosely covered with a napkin, and the sign of the cross is made. The undercover-cutting commences, so nobody can see where the secret coin might be. The slices are distributed in this order: First piece cut is in honour of Christ, the second is cut in honour of the Virgin Mary, and the third is cut for St. Basil. These three pieces are saved and given the same day to the elderly, or the poor. The next pieces are cut for the most senior member of the household down to the youngest member. Whoever finds the coin in their piece of cake puts it toward something special!
- 1 cup butter
- 2 cups white sugar, plus 2 Tbsp. white sugar, for sprinkling on top of cake later
- 3 cups flour
- 6 eggs
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 cup warm milk
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup blanched slivered almond
Wash and dry a coin, then tightly wrap it in aluminum foil.
Preheat oven to 350°.
Grease a 10 inch round angel food cake pan with 1-2 Tbsp of extra butter.
In a mixing bowl, cream the cup of butter and 2 cups of sugar together until light in colour. Add the eggs one at a time, blending each one in well. Stir in the flour, baking powder and baking soda and mix gently until just combined.
Add the warm milk and lemon juice to the cake batter to mix well… A total of about 3 minutes medium speed. Use a spatula and stir anything off the bottom.
Pour the cake batter in to a greased Angel Food Cake pan, insert the *foil wrapped coin, and bake for 20 minutes.
Remove the cake from the oven; sprinkle the nuts and 2 Tbsp. sugar over the cake, then return the cake to the oven and bake for a further 20-40 minutes or until the cake springs to the touch, and an inserted knife or wooden skewer comes out clean.
If using a deep, 8 1/2 inch well greased springform (cheesecake style) pan, the complete baking time may take up to an hour. Check regularly, as ovens vary.
Allow to cool on a rack for 20 minutes, then transfer to a cake plate.
*You can also insert the foil-wrapped coin after the cake is baked, pushing directly underneath, into the cake, so it remains unseen from the top of cake.