Monday, December 28, 2015

Easy, No Knead, Vegan Vasilopita (St. Basil's Bread)

Easy, No Knead, Vegan Vasilopita
Vasilopita is a Traditional Greek Bread that is baked on St. Basil's Day, January 1st. Every Greek Family has their own special recipe. The bread is baked to remember the generosity of St. Basil the Great, who distributed alms to the poor in such a way as to not embarrass them - he baked their alms into loaves of bread. There are many pious stories about how this happened - including this one and this one .

Here is a short video (about 3 minutes) about the life of this great Saint.



When we bake Vasilopita, we hide a coin somewhere in the dough, and the person who finds the coin is supposed to be especially Blessed in the coming year.

This is a great custom to remember the life of the Saint, and the importance of Alms Giving in the Christian life.

Of course, if you have a Basil or a William in your family, the Tradition becomes even MORE important!


Also, it is worthy of note that Greek Children receive their seasonal gifts not from St. Nicholas on Christmas Morning, but from St. Basil on St. Basil's Day (New Year's Day) - this once again emphasizes the Saint's Generosity & Alms Giving in the Name of Christ.

If, as this New Year approaches, you're considering what New Year's Resolution to make, you cannot make a better resolution than reading the Bible all the way through this year. There's a helpful, free link on the right side border of this page for your convenience all year.  Or, you can go to the site directly and save the link somewhere that is convenient for you.   The site also allows you to listen rather than read if you prefer, offers a variety of translations, including a few foreign languages, and has a app for folks with smart devices. You can customize on their page to listen starting any day of the year, not just on New Year's Day.

There are two basic types of Vasilopita - one is a Sweet Yeast Bread, and the other is a Sweet, Cake-like Quick Bread. This Recipe is for the Yeasted Variety.

Many families decorate their Vasilopita - with the year written in frosting or powdered sugar, or with nuts - but I'll leave that up to you!

This is a special variety of Vasilopita - in that it is both Vegan and Oil Free, whereas the traditional Vasilopita is loaded with seasonal Feasting foods - since this great Feast is during the 12 Days of Christmas! But, those who prefer to avoid those Feasting foods can still enjoy a festive Vasilopita : )

The use of Tapioca Starch, Potato, and Sugar tenderizes & moisturizes the dough, and make a moist, tender, fluffy loaf without the use of oil or eggs.    

Easy, No Knead Vegan Vasilopita
 (Makes 2 pounds of dough - for one large braided loaf)

I prepare a batch this size in an 8 Cup Container - the one in the pictures.
Be sure to add in this order:

1 1/2 Cups Warm Water (if you want an optional mild orange flavor, use 3 Tablespoons Orange Juice Concentrate in place of part of the water -then add water to total 1 1/2 cups liquid)
2 1/2 Cups + 2 Tablespoons Unbleached, All Purpose Flour
2 Tablespoons Tapioca Starch (you can substitute Cornstarch, if you like)
1/2 Cup Potato Flakes
1/2 Cup Sugar (if you prefer less sweetness, you can use 1/4 cup sugar without changing anything else in the recipe)
1/2 Tablespoon Yeast
1/2 Tablespoon Salt
1 teaspoon Mahlepi, Ground****
1/4 teaspoon Mastic, Ground (Optional) ****



Stir well with a spoon till no patches of dry Flour remain.

The dough should look like this right after you stir it.

Cover loosely with lid (don't fasten so securely that it cannot "breathe")
Leave it on the counter for 2 to 5 hours.
Now, put it in the fridge till you're ready to use it **

The dough should look like this after it has sat out on the counter for 2 to 5 hours.


Note - do not "Punch Down" this kind of dough.

This dough CAN be kept in the fridge for a week or more and still be quite good to use, but with this particular dough, you'll find the fluffiest, sweetest results if you bake it within a day or two of mixing.


When you're ready to bake the bread, remove it from the refrigerator and dust it VERY WELL with Flour. This is a moist, sticky dough, so don't be afraid to use lots of Flour!

Oil your pan (I use a Perforated, Non-stick Pizza Pan, like this one for baking)

Separate the Dough into three portions, and form each portion into a long rope. Place the ropes in a concentric rainbow pattern on the pan, like so:




Braid the ropes, starting in the middle (at the top, center of the rainbow) and working out- then start from the middle again and braid the other half of the rainbow. Bring the two open ends together into a circle.



Wash a coin and wrap it in foil, tuck it into one of the strands of the braid from the underside, so that it cannot be detected.

Leave to rise for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and bake in the middle of the oven, without steam for 35-40 minutes.

For best results, cool before serving.


* For my 6 Quart Container, I use a new plastic shoe box from the Dollar Store.
** This dough CAN be used the day it is made - but it is a tad easier to shape after it is refrigerated.

**** Spices are traditionally ground in a Mortar & Pestle. I grind them in my electric coffee grinder - I use some of the sugar in the recipe to add to the grinder to produce enough bulk to grind - then I add the mixture of sugar & spices to the recipe.

The Art of Homemaking Mondays
What'd You Do this Weekend?
Anti-Procrastination Tuesday
Simple Supper Tuesday
Mix It Up Monday
Good Tips Tuesday
Tell it to Me Tuesdays
Try a New Recipe Tuesday
Tuesdays with a Twist
Mom's Library
Wake Up Wednesday
Penny Pinching Party
Coffee & Conversation
Healthy Living Link Party
Think Tank Thursday
Food on Fridays: Holiday Treats


2 comments:

  1. This braided bread is so pretty and sounds delicious, I love the tradition of hiding a coin for someone to receive extra blessings! Thanks for sharing at What'd You Do This Weekend? Wishing you and your family a very Happy New Year!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Mmmm... This sounds delicious! Thank you for sharing the recipe at Tuesdays with a Twist! -Marci @ Stone Cottage Adventures

    ReplyDelete

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