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Math Trek

The Coin in the Cake

By
2:28pm, December 22, 2006

In many Greek households, one of the highlights of New Year's Day is the cutting of St. Basil's cake.

Made from flour, eggs, butter, sugar, orange flavoring, and other ingredients, this special round cake also contains a surprise—a foil-wrapped coin. In some recipes, the coin is added to the batter before baking; in others, it's slipped under the cake when the cake is placed on a serving platter.

In Greek tradition, the cutting of St. Basil's cake reveals what the new year has in store for the family, and the person who gets the slice containing the hidden coin is considered to be the luckiest one of all.

Sometimes, however, as the cake is being cut into sectors, the knife actually hits

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