Vassilopita –New Year’s Orange and Brandy Cake

This is my mother’s recipe. Serve on its own for breakfast or as a snack with coffee, tea or a glass of orange juice. Decorate with almonds or simply sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.

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Makes one 10-inch round cake   

4 large eggs, separated
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
12 tablespoons (11/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, or a combination of butter and olive oil
1 1/4 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup brandy
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Grated zest of 1 orange
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Whole blanched almonds

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Grease a 10-inch round cake pan. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until light yellow and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the butter or butter and olive oil and beat for 1 minute more. Beat in the orange juice and brandy.

Whisk together the flour with the baking powder, baking soda and the zests in another large bowl. Add to the yolk mixture and stir with a rubber spatula until incorporated.

In a large clean bowl, with clean beaters, beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Fold them into the batter. Pour the batter into the pan and shake gently to even the top. Decorate the top with the almonds.

Bake the cake for about 1 hour, or until it is golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack before removing from the pan and serving.

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