Meaning ‘king’s cake’ in Russian, korolevsky cake was traditionally made in the imperial cities of Russia, and eaten by the aristocracy. Its impressive stature featuring three layers of walnut, chocolate and poppy seed cake aren't overwhelmingly rich, and have just a subtle sweetness, balancing the creamy caramel layers and sweet chocolate ganache on top.






Skill level

Average: 2.9 (75 votes)


  • 250 g unsalted butter, softened
  • 330 g (1½ cups) caster sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 480 g (2 cups) sour cream
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 450 g (3 cups) plain flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp baking powder, sifted
  • 1½ tbsp poppy seeds
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 120 g (1 cup) walnuts, finely ground
  • 300 g (1 cup) caramel (dulce de leche) (see Note)


  • 100 g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), chopped
  • 125 ml (½ cup) thickened cream
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil

Walnut praline (optional)

  • 165 g (¾ cup) caster sugar
  • 75 g (¾ cup) walnuts

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Resting time 45 minutes

Preheat oven to 160°C. Grease and line base and sides of 3 x 20 cm round springform cake pans. Beat butter and sugar together in an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Beat in 240 g sour cream until mixture is smooth. Stir in vinegar and vanilla, and then fold in flour and baking powder. Divide evenly into three separate bowls. Fold poppy seeds into one batter, then cocoa into second batter and walnuts into third batter. Spread each batter into separate cake pans. Place poppy seed and cocoa cake pans on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cakes comes out clean. Remove cakes and cool. Place walnut cake pan in the oven and bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool completely.

If making praline, line a tray with foil. Place sugar in a saucepan over high heat and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until a dark caramel. Remove from heat and add walnuts, swirling to coat. Pour onto tray and set aside for 30 minutes to set. Roughly crush and set aside.

To make ganache, fill a small saucepan one-third full with water and bring to a simmer. Place chocolate, cream and oil in a small heatproof bowl, place over pan and stir until chocolate has melted (don’t let bowl touch the water).

Meanwhile, beat caramel and remaining 240 g sour cream together until combined. To assemble cake, place poppy seed cake on serving plate. Spread with half of the caramel mixture, then top with chocolate cake. Top with remaining caramel mixture then finish with walnut cake. Pour ganache over cake and set aside for 15 minutes or until just set. Scatter over praline, if using, and serve.


• Dulce de leche is from delis and specialist food shops.

Photography Ben Dearnely

As seen in Feast magazine, May 2014, Issue 31.