5 from 1 reviews

Celebrate the Epiphany with a Dreikönigskuchen or Swiss Three Kings Cake. This brioche-like cake is perfect for sharing, and whoever finds the hidden fève is crowned king for the day!


For the dough

For the egg wash

To decorate


To make the dough

  1. Measure the flour, sugar, salt and yeast into the bowl of an electric stand mixer.
  2. Lightly mix the ingredients together using the dough hook.
  3. Slowly pour in the warm milk, and continue mixing until everything comes together into a rough dough.
  4. Add the butter, one tablespoon at a time. Once the butter has been fully incorporated into the dough, add the next tablespoon of butter.
  5. Once all of the butter has been added, continue kneading the dough on medium speed for about 15 to 20 minutes.
  6. The dough is ready when it is soft and smooth, and also slightly elastic in texture when you try to stretch it. If you poke the dough softly, it should bounce back right away.
  7. Lightly oil a large mixing bowl.
  8. Place the dough inside the bowl.
  9. Cover the dough with a clean tea towel.
  10. Leave the dough somewhere warm for 1 to 1.5 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size (see Kitchen Notes below).
  11. Once the dough has doubled in size, punch back the dough to release all of the air.
  12. Gently knead the dough a few times, and then knead in all of the raisins.

To portion the dough

  1. Pat the dough into a long log.
  2. Cut off 8 small pieces of dough. If you are using kitchen scales, each piece should weigh 100 g/3.5 oz.
  3. Roll each piece of small dough into a smooth ball.
  4. Hide a plastic or porcelain fève inside one of the small pieces of dough.
  5. Roll the remaining dough into a large circle.

To shape the dough

  1. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Evenly arrange the 8 small pieces of dough into a circle on the baking paper, leaving a bit of room between each.
  3. Place the large piece of dough in the middle of the arrangement.
  4. Cover the dough loosely with a sheet of cling film.
  5. Place the dough somewhere warm for about 30 minutes, or until the dough has puffed up slightly.

To bake the Dreikönigskuchen

  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C (428°F).
  2. Make the egg wash by lightly whisking together the egg and milk.
  3. Brush the cake with some egg wash.
  4. Sprinkle pearl sugar generously all over the cake.
  5. Bake for about 30-40 minutes, or until the cake is lightly golden. Check the cake at about 15 minutes, and if it is browning too quickly, cover the cake with a loose sheet of foil for the rest of the baking time.
  6. The cake is cooked if an internal thermometer reads 85°C (185°F).
  7. Gently remove the cake to a wire rack, and leave to cool completely.
  8. Whoever finds the fève is crowned king or queen for the day!

Kitchen Notes

If pearl sugar is not available, you could use flaked almonds, which are also traditionally used in Switzerland.

* Instead of raisins, use the same quantity of chocolate chips.
* Omit the raisins for a plain dough.

* For Swiss readers: I use Zopfmehl (or farine pour tresse) when making bread and enriched dough.

* Please note that there is a difference between instant yeast (also called instant dried yeast or fast-action dried yeast) and dried yeast (also called active dry yeast). If you are not sure what type of yeast you have, please check the packaging for instructions on how to use the yeast.
* With instant yeast, you can add it directly to the flour mixture without having to activate it first.
* With dried yeast, you will need to activate it first (usually in some warm liquid).
* If you are using fresh yeast, you will need about one block (40 g fresh yeast = 14 g instant dried yeast). Crumble the fresh yeast into the warm milk, and stir to dissolve the yeast.

Dough needs a warm environment for the yeast to activate and cause the dough to rise. If you don’t have a warm place in your home, try one of the following ideas:
* In the oven with the oven light switched on (works only for some ovens).
* In the oven with a tray of boiling water on the bottom shelf.
* In the oven at a low temperature of about 25-30°C (77-86°F).
* On the open oven door, with the oven turned on at 100°C (212°F).

All recipes on this website state temperatures for a regular oven (i.e. a conventional oven without fan). If you have a convection oven with a fan, please consult the manufacturer’s handbook on how to adjust the temperature and baking time accordingly.

To convert from cups to grams, and vice-versa, please see this handy Conversion Chart for Basic Ingredients.