Vasilopita (Orange Sweet Bread)


This is a delicious orange sweet bread recipe that has been passed down in my family for several generations. It is a Greek tradition to serve this bread on New Year's morning. A coin is placed in the bread while baking, and when served, the person who finds the coin is said to have good luck for the year. It still makes a wonderful breakfast bread to be served anytime! The aroma that fills your home while baking this recipe is heavenly! It is an all-day process to make this bread, but it is worth it! For Greeks, this is a bread version of Vasilopita, not the dessert cake variety.

Prep Time:
30 mins
Cook Time:
31 mins
Additional Time:
4 hrs 45 mins
Total Time:
5 hrs 46 mins
2 loaves


  • ½ cup orange juice

  • ½ cup water

  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

  • 3 (.25 ounce) packages rapid-rise yeast

  • 2 cups white sugar

  • 1 cup unsalted margarine (such as Fleischmann's®), melted

  • 4 eggs

  • 1 orange, zested

  • 7 cups bread flour, or more as needed

  • 1 tablespoon salt

  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

  • 2 coins wrapped in aluminum foil

  • 1 egg white

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Mix orange juice, water, and cinnamon in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in the microwave until the mixture registers 110 degrees F (43 degrees C) on an instant-read thermometer, 1 to 2 minutes.

  2. Stir yeast into the orange juice mixture. Let stand until yeast is creamy and frothy, about 45 minutes.

  3. Combine sugar and margarine in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat until creamy. Add eggs; beat on high speed for 30 seconds. Mix in yeast mixture and orange zest until well combined.

  4. Sift flour, salt, and baking powder together in a bowl. Add gradually to the mixture in the stand mixer, mixing with a bread hook until a soft, sticky dough forms, about 5 minutes.

  5. Transfer dough to a large glass bowl. Cover with plastic wrap; let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 2 to 4 hours.

  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease 2 round cake pans.

  7. Divide dough into 2 equal pieces. Put 1 wrapped coin in each piece; knead for 2 to 3 minutes and shape into a ball. Place 1 ball of dough in each cake pan. Cover with plastic wrap; let rise until puffy, 2 to 4 hours more.

  8. Whisk egg white and vanilla together in a small bowl. Brush over the top of dough.

  9. Bake in the preheated oven until a knife inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs attached, 30 to 55 minutes.

Cook's Notes:

If the mixture doesn't bubble in step 2, it is possible that your water was too hot. You'll have to start over.

Cover bread with aluminum foil in step 9 if it appears to be browning too quickly.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

303 Calories
17g Fat
36g Carbs
3g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 12
Calories 303
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 17g 21%
Saturated Fat 3g 13%
Cholesterol 62mg 21%
Sodium 695mg 30%
Total Carbohydrate 36g 13%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Total Sugars 34g
Protein 3g
Vitamin C 6mg 30%
Calcium 65mg 5%
Iron 1mg 4%
Potassium 88mg 2%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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