Korolevsky (Russian King's Cake) is delicious and looks royal! Layers are loaded with poppy seeds, chocolate and with walnuts. A must try!

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My Aunt Anna made this King’s Cake last Thanksgiving. I took a photo of it and posted it, then got a wave of requests for the recipe. 1 year later (ok, that’s more than a little embarrassing), I am finally posting it!

I just found out this is a Russian cake recipe. Korolevsky means King’s, which makes this a royal cake. Russian and Ukrainian people are known for their fantastic cakes. I’m sure you will enjoy this one!

Each cake layer has 1 cup of sour cream so it turns out very soft and moist. If you make the full recipe with all three different layers, it is very time consuming – not difficult – just time consuming.

According to the original recipe, each cake layer is mixed and baked separately (my wonderful husband so kindly washed my KitchenAid 4 times!!) This triple-layer-cake turned out huge and even a thin slice of cake was a lot!

Next time I make this, I will make double the cake portion at once, then divide the batter in half, put poppy seeds in one and walnuts in the other and bake them together in 2 separate cake pans.

This would make a double layer cake instead of a triple. You can also just make a full poppyseed cake or a full walnut cake and it will be just as good.

Ingredients For the Full 3-LAYER King’s Cake

6 extra large eggs, at room temperature
3 cups sugar
3 cups sour cream
3 cups flour *measured correctly
3 tsp baking soda
3 tsp vinegar
1 Tbsp cocoa powder (I used dutch cocoa powder)
2 Tbsp poppy seeds
1 cup walnuts, toasted & chopped

Ingredients For Frosting:

1 can sweetened condensed milk, cooked and at room temp (click here to see instructions)
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

Cake Prep Instructions:

1. Grease and generously flour a 9″ non-stick cake pan.
2. On a dry skillet, over medium-high heat, toast 1 cup of walnuts until lightly golden then chop into small pieces.
Russian Korolevsky Cake-2

How to Make Each Cake Layer:

Preheat the Oven to 380 ˚ F. Make 3 separate layers, each layer is made the same way (steps 1 through 3) with a different mix-in at the end (step 5). So you end up with 3 separate cake layers: 1 with poppy seeds, 1 with chocolate and 1 with walnuts:1.
In the bowl of an stand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat together 2 eggs and 1 cup sugar until pale yellow (4 minutes on medium/high speed). Reduce the speed to low and add 1 cup flour. Mix until well-blended.
Russian Korolevsky Cake-4
2. Put 1 cup sour cream in a large measuring cup. In a small ramekin, combine 1 tsp baking soda with 1 tsp vinegar. It will fizz up, then stir it right away into the sour cream.
Russian Korolevsky Cake-10
3. The sour cream will start to visibly rise. Once you notice it rising, mix it into the cake batter using a spatula.
Russian Korolevsky Cake-5
4. In the first cake batter, mix in 1 Tbsp cocoa. Repeat steps 1-3 but In the second cake batter, mix in 2 Tbsp poppy seeds and in the third cake batter, mix in 1/2 cup toasted, chopped walnuts.
(with cocoa)
Russian Korolevsky Cake-6
(with poppy seeds:)
Russian Korolevsky Cake
(with walnuts:)
Russian Korolevsky Cake-8
5. Pour batter into prepared cake pan and bake at 380˚F for 20-22 minutes or until the top is golden and a toothpick comes out clean. Let cake layers cool to room temperature.6. Frost the top of each layer. (See Frosting Instructions below)
Russian Korolevsky Cake-3
7. Sprinkle the top with the remaining 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Russian Korolevsky Cake-11

Frosting Instructions:

1. Using a whisk attachment, beat together on high speed the cooked sweetened condensed milk (at room temp) and 2 sticks of butter for 3 to 4 minutes until fluffy.

Russian Korolevsky Cake-9

Frost once the cake is cooled to room temperature. If you refrigerate the frosting before using, it may become too stiff and you will need to let it stand 15 to 30 minutes until it’s spreadable.

Natasha's Kitchen Cookbook

Russian Korolevsky Cake (King's Cake)

4.80 from 25 votes
Author: Natasha of NatashasKitchen.com
Prep Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Cook Time: 22 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 32 minutes

Ingredients 

Servings: 10

Ingredients for the Full 3-LAYER Cake

  • 6 extra large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3 cups sour cream
  • 3 cups flour
  • 3 tsp baking soda
  • 3 tsp vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbsp poppy seeds
  • 1 cup walnuts, toasted & chopped

Ingredients For Frosting:

  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk, cooked and at room temperature
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

Instructions

Prep:

  • Cake Prep Instructions:
  • Grease and generously flour a 9" non-stick cake pan.
  • On a dry skillet, over medium-high heat, toast 1 cup of walnuts until lightly golden then chop into small pieces.

How to Make Each Cake Layer: Preheat the Oven to 380 ˚ F (read note before starting)

  • In the bowl of an stand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat together 2 eggs and 1 cup sugar until pale yellow (4 minutes on medium/high speed). Reduce the speed to low and add 1 cup flour. Mix until well-blended.
  • Put 1 cup sour cream in a large measuring cup. In a small ramekin, combine 1 tsp baking soda with 1 tsp vinegar. It will fizz up, then stir it right away into the sour cream.
  • The sour cream will start to visibly rise. Once you notice it rising, mix it into the cake batter using a spatula.
  • In the first cake batter, mix in 1 Tbsp cocoa. Repeat steps 1-3 but In the second cake batter, mix in 2 Tbsp poppy seeds and in the third cake batter, mix in 1/2 cup toasted, chopped walnuts.
  • Pour batter into prepared cake pan and bake at 380˚F for 20-22 minutes or until the top is golden and a toothpick comes out clean. Let cake layers cool to room temperature.
  • Frost the top of each layer (see frosting instructions below)
  • Sprinkle the top with the remaining 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Frosting Instructions:

  • Using a whisk attachment, beat together on high speed the cooked sweetened condensed milk and 2 sticks of butter for 3 to 4 minutes until fluffy. Frost once the cake is cooled to room temperature.

Notes

Make 3 separate layers, each layer is made the same way (steps 1 through 3) with a different mix-in at the end (step 5). So you end up with 3 separate cake layers: 1 with poppyseeds, 1 with chocolate and 1 with walnuts.
If you refrigerate the frosting before using, it may become too stiff and you will need to let it stand 15 to 30 minutes until it's spreadable.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Russian, Ukrainian
Keyword: Kings Cake
Skill Level: Medium
Cost to Make: $$

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Natasha Kravchuk

Welcome to my kitchen! I am Natasha, the blogger behind Natasha's Kitchen (since 2009). My husband and I run this blog together and share only our best, family approved and tested recipes with YOU. Thanks for stopping by! We are so happy you're here.

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Comments

  • Eva
    February 5, 2024

    Hi Natasha,
    Would it be okay to use plain condensed milk, and how long did you cook yours for?
    Thank you.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      February 6, 2024

      Hi Eva, are you referring to an unsweetened condensed milk? If so, I don’t have experience using that in this recipe to advise on the outcome.

      Reply

  • Fern
    January 14, 2024

    Question: Could I substitute plain Greek yogurt for the sour cream and pecans for the walnuts?

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      January 15, 2024

      I imagine the next best thing would be Greek yogurt – plain and pecans should be fine.

      Reply

  • Inez
    March 9, 2023

    I can’t believe you didn’t cut it to show the layers!! lol crime

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      March 10, 2023

      We’ve come a long way since posting this recipe in 2010, haha!

      Reply

  • Natasha
    April 22, 2022

    Love this cake, Natasha! Do you think I can half the butter and add some cream cheese to the frosting this time? Think it will be ok?

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      April 22, 2022

      Hi Natasha, I haven’t tested that to advise on the outcome. I always recommend making the recipe as written for the best result. If you experiment of course, let me know how you liked the recipe.

      Reply

  • Natalia
    April 8, 2022

    This is the second time Im making this delicious cake for my family! It was SUCH a hit at my son’s birthday party last year that this time I’ve doubled your recipe to make one huge cake! My question is how do I store it overnight? I don’t have a container that fits it. Can it be stored uncovered in the fridge or do I need to cover it so it doesn’t dry out?

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      April 8, 2022

      Hi Natalia, you can try using saran wrap instead of a container if you don’t have anything big enough. I always like to frost the day of, but this frosting is sturdy enough to stay good overnight. Let it sit at room temp at least 30 minutes to let the frosting soften before serving if you end up refrigerating it.

      Reply

  • Kendall
    November 8, 2020

    I’d like to make this cake but am wondering if I could just make two layers, cut them in half, frost them and then reassemble them?Thanks!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      November 9, 2020

      Hi Kendall, I haven’t tried that exact method, but I imagine that may work. If you experiment, I would love to know how you like that.

      Reply

  • Lin
    June 28, 2020

    I have made this recipe many times! Its really delicious! Thanks so much. I did not need to wash my mixer and bowls that many times because I have a big wide oven! For the chocolate layer, I would measure out the ingredients separately so I replace the cake flour by abit with cocoa powder.

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      June 28, 2020

      Thanks for sharing that with us, Lin. I’m glad you loved it!

      Reply

  • Susana
    March 26, 2020

    Looking to make this tomorrow but since we are in quarantine here I can only use what I have on hand. Luckily I have everything except for the poppy seeds. Does it make a big difference to flavour to omit? Thanks!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      March 26, 2020

      Hi Susana, I don’t think it would taste too different – those are all just add-ins and it should work without poppy seeds.

      Reply

  • Rita
    March 10, 2020

    Hi Natasha! Love your recipes and recreated a lot of them already. Question for this one – planning to make Korolevsky cake but want to use 2 x12 inch round pans for a bigger cake (2 layers). Just wondering how much I need to increase the amount of ingredients and the baking time per cake. Would it work if I increase each layer by 50%? thanks in advance!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      March 10, 2020

      Hi Rita, I have not tested this in a 12″ cake pan. With it being just 2″ tall I worry it may overflow if you double. 1.5 times the recipe may work thought. If you experiment, let me know how you liked the recipe.

      Reply

  • Svetka
    September 13, 2019

    How do I stairs these layers (without cream) overnight? In fridge or panty covered?

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      September 14, 2019

      Great question, Svetka. Wrap the cake layers in plastic wrap and store in the fridge until ready to use.

      Reply

  • Bill
    June 11, 2019

    I tend to love “pain in the butt” recipes, so this is a gotta do. I can just imagine this cake 3 stories high fully covered in icing and nuts…truly a King’s Cake…downright crown like. Do you think doubling the icing would be sufficient to do the entire cake?
    thanks
    Bill

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      June 11, 2019

      Hi Bill, I haven’t test that to advise but I imagine that should work!

      Reply

  • Nicol
    March 6, 2019

    Hi!
    If you double the recipe do you have to double the sugar also?

    Reply

    • Natasha
      March 6, 2019

      Hi Nicol, This cake is best when each layer is made separately and yes I would double all of the ingredients proportionally but still make the layers separately.

      Reply

  • Elaine
    January 2, 2019

    Nevermind! When I went back and checked the comments, there it was at the top this time??? Now, I’m thinking it must have been another string of comments I read and not yours! Great explanation on the cooked condensed milk. Also, they sell it precooked in the US. It’s called caramel Eagle Brand milk.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      January 2, 2019

      I’m happy you found that!

      Reply

  • Elaine
    January 2, 2019

    Lots of comments and I read a great number of them, before deciding to ask about the frosting directions, which mention “cooked” sweetened condensed milk. No instructions as to how it should be cooked. Is this a mistake? If not, please advise. I want to bake this cake Saturday for Epiphany celebration.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      January 2, 2019

      Hi Elaine, you can find that here.

      Reply

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