Placesettings: cake for three kings

Since yesterday was The Feast of Epiphany—aka Three Kings Day—I finally baked some Three Kings Cake today.

I’m only a day late!


Why it’s called “cake” is a mystery. It’s not cake. It’s a barely-sweet yeast bread studded with bits of yummy dried fruit, baked in the shape of a king’s crown and topped with cherry “jewels.”

Oh, and you’re supposed to bake in a tiny ceramic doll, and the guest who finds the doll in his or her slice is obliged to host the next party!

Since green is the color for Epiphanytide, I served the cake on plain Buffalo china with green-shouldered & scalloped Syracuse restaurantware dinner plates as underplates.


The tablecloth is heavy cotton printed with improbable pink potted irises. Great colors!

If regular fruitcake is not your thing, you might like this cake. It’s a yeast bread, so it won’t keep a long time like fruitcake. It’s so tasty, though, that you won’t have leftovers beyond a day anyway.

Want to make it? The recipe is here.


Pretty simple! You mix the yeast dough and let it rise.


Then roll it flat and scatter the dried fruit on top. I am not good yet at rolling out a rectangle of dough with neat corners, as you can see. This will have consequences, which you’ll also see.

The recipe calls for nuts along with dried fruit. I left them out since we’re not huge fans of nuts. For the fruit, I used what I had on hand—dried cherries, golden raisins, cranberries, and citron. Anything goes!


Then you roll the whole thing up like a jelly roll, tuck one rolled end into the other end to make a dough “crown,” and settle the whole thing around a bowl or custard dish to help keep its shape. I used a small pink Pyrex bowl, of course.

The dough rises a second time. You slash the outside edge so the filling peeks out, slather the top with egg wash, and decorate with more dried fruit.

The recipe calls for candied cherries, which my supermarket doesn’t have after fruitcake season. So I used maraschino cherries, which leaked a little red juice on top. Should’ve blotted them dry with paper towels first! I threw on some candied orange peel that I had, too.


Here it is out of the oven. Not the prettiest thing in the world, this one. If you look really closely, you can see that the place where the two ends of the roll joined to make the dough circle—at the top of the photo—is thinner than the rest of the circle. That’s because there is not as much dough on those non-rectangular edges. I need to work on my rolling pin skills!

The doll! Almost forgot the doll! A Wade figurine would have been perfect, but I didn’t have one. I tucked in a whole almond instead. We’ve eaten half the cake, and nobody’s found it yet!

2 Comments on “Placesettings: cake for three kings”

  1. janeray says:

    It looks terrific! No one would even notice the “flaws” if you didn’t point them out’

    • luray says:

      That’s because the photo is sneaky. I put the “small” side furthest away from the camera. Your brain, which is very logical, assumes that the side that’s further away is going to be smaller anyway. Perspective! I did not use the bird’s-eye view photo, because it clearly shows how lumpy and misshapen this cake is!