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PJ KABOS Recipe: Healthy & Traditional Greek Sweet Bread—Olive Oil/Yeast Cake (often used for the Vasilopita)

Prepare yourself for a culinary journey that transcends time and continents, as we unveil one of the most mouthwatering sweet bread 🍞 recipes in the world 🌍! PJ Kabos' Healthy & Traditional Greek Sweet Bread—Olive Oil/Yeast Cake— which is often used to make the Vasilopita (see previous article, “The Greek New Year’s Cake – Vasilopita (Βασιλόπιτα) – History and the Lucky Coin Inside”) 

This delectable creation draws its roots from the heartwarming traditions of James’ great grandmother 👵, a Greek immigrant who brought with her the magic of sweet bread to Lewiston, Maine, USA, in the early 1900s. A cherished annual gift to James’ mother—and all her many other grandchildren scattered across the USA at Christmas 🎄—this sweet bread was more than just a treat that came by mail—it was a link to a rich heritage.

PJ KABOS Recipes: A slice of history, a taste of love, passed down through the ages.

In a culinary ode to nostalgia, James’ mother devoted years to recreating the essence of her dear yiayia’s —grandmother's—sweet bread. The journey was a flavorful evolution, with each attempt bringing her closer to the cherished taste of her grandmother’s creation. The pièce de résistance? A stroke of brilliance suggested by James’ sister about a decade ago—the substitution of olive oil for butter (But of course that's what Yiayia would have used!).

PJ Kabos Olive Oil Recipe & Video: How to make PJ Kabos' Healthy & Traditional Greek Sweet Bread—Olive Oil/Yeast Cake

Desert: Also makes a great breakfast!

Serves: 10

PJ KABOS Extra Virgin Olive Oil used: Family Reserve – Medium (white tin) or Family Reserve Organic – Medium or Chef’s Selection (black and white tin).

Ingredients for the Olive Oil / Yeast Cake - Traditional Sweet Bread

For the Cake

  • 1¼ kilos (2 lbs. 12 oz.) flour total, sifted (A combination of flours may be used. Half whole wheat and half all-purpose white flour makes for a delicious and healthy taste)

  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 1¼ cups raw cane sugar

  • 1 cup milk

  • 8 eggs

  • 2 tablespoons yeast, level

  • 1 tablespoon lemon or tangerine rind, grated

  • 1 teaspoon salt, level

  • ¼ cup peeled almond slices

Note if making a Vasilopita from this recipe:

  • ½ cup whole peeled almonds (instead of slices)

  • 2 tablespoons white sugar

  • 1 coin, any you desire, covered with foil

  • large, round baking pan, at least 35 cm (about 14 inches) in diameter; 6.5 cm high (2.5 inches)

Preparation of the Olive Oil / Yeast Cake - Traditional Sweet Bread

  • Milk/yeast paste: Heat the milk to lukewarm. Dissolve the yeast in the milk (do not let the milk get too hot, only just warm enough to dissolve the yeast) until the consistency of a soft paste. Set aside in a warm place (an oven heated to 50°C (120°F) works nicely).

  • In a very large bowl or pan add the flour, salt and grated citrus rind. Make a well in the middle.

  • Add the olive oil, eggs, sugar and warm yeast paste to the well.

  • Using your hands, mix everything together. (Note: after mixing it, its consistency will be a sticky mess! But don’t lose heart. This is correct.)

  • After "kneading" it well (that is, ensuring that all the sticky ingredients are well mixed) cover with parchment paper or a cloth dish towel, place in the still lukewarm oven to rise; 40 minutes later dust flour on your hands and knead it a second time.

  • Grease and flour the cake pan. Lay the dough in the center of a large and deep, round baking pan or Bundt cake pan. Paint the top with a light layer of egg. Scatter sliced almonds over it.

  • Place in the lukewarm oven again and let it rise for about 45 minutes. Note: Don't worry if it doesn't rise too much; it will do so during cooking. How the dough reacts depends on altitude, humidity, etc., things that change from home to home.

  • Remove from the lukewarm over. Turn the oven up to 180°C (350°F) to preheat it.

  • Bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Note: you don't want to remove it from the oven too soon (so it doesn’t fall), nor do you want it to burn (the top may be covered with parchment paper or foil to protect it from getting too brown towards the end of baking). As with the rising time, the baking time depends on your home's altitude, humidity level, flour, oven, etc.. It's a bit of a waltz to get it right but well worth the effort and really quite easy!

  • Turn out upon a serving plate. Decorate with a dusting of powdered sugar or however you wish.

Note: If using this recipe for a Vasilopita:

  • After kneading it the second time place the dough in the center of a very large and deep, round baking pan, at least 35 cm (about 14 inches) in diameter (No need to grease and flour as the Vasilopita is served directly out of the pan). Insert a foil-covered coin within the dough. Use whole pealed almonds (rather than slices) to write the new year’s date on the cake, brush with egg then sprinkle the entire cake with white sugar. Rise again and bake as above.

See “The Greek New Year’s Cake – Vasilopita (Βασιλόπιτα) – History and the Lucky Coin Inside” article for more information about this fun-to-make and enjoyable New Year’s cake.

Kali Orexi—Happy Eating!

And there you have it, a recipe that stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of familial traditions. Now, it’s our pleasure, at PJ Kabos, to share this culinary gem with you. We invite you to savor each bite, as you embark on a journey that connects you to the sweet memories of generations past. If you would like to, it's right on time to start with this year to make it a much-looked forward tradition for your family and friends. the sweet moments that bind us all together!

A tin of PJ Kabos Family Reserve—Medium Taste Intensity—High Phenolic Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
This high-phenolic Extra Virgin Olive Oil was used in preparing our sweet bread recipe this year.

But this oil may be used as well...

A beautiful bottle of PJ Kabos Family Reserve Organic – Medium – High Phenolic Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
PJ Kabos Family Reserve Organic – Medium – High Phenolic Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

It is a favorite of world-renown chef, Nobu Matsuhisa. And this year, he was the chef for the Golden Globes which means...our EVOO was used there. How cool is that 😀?!

Please enjoy having a look around our websites, and, as well as our Amazon Store for more about our many high-phenolic olive oils, recipes, etc. And follow along with us on Instagram for pretty photos concerning olive oil production, our groves in Greece, family history and more.

Until next time...stay happy 😃 and well!


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