Christ the King Sunday

Christ the King Sunday or Reign of Christ Sunday is the newest high holy day in the church, instituted in 1925 by Pope Pious XI. It was designed to combat the rise of secularism and nationalism in the world by stating that it was Christ who has true authority over human life. As nationalism grew in the world, the day was embraced by most protestants as well to offer a theological antidote.

While originally celebrated the Sunday after All Saints Day, it was moved to the last Sunday of the church year. This gives the day a special significance, reminding us that Christ has the final word in history. The day is heavy in apocalyptic themes and is a celebration that Christ will return and set all things right. This future-oriented theme dovetails perfect with the season of Advent, which begins with a focus on the Second Coming of Christ.

Because Advent is a penitential season this day retains elements of carnival, the celebration before a fast. For Americans this day also falls near Thanksgiving, and can give a theological purpose to the week before advent.

To celebrate Christ the King Sunday we are making a Cranberry Streusel Crown Cake baked in a beautifully-ornate crown bundt pan. This cake has similarities to the “king” cake made during Epiphany, with a Thanksgiving twist. It’ll make a delicious dessert to enjoy today or as a treat to end your Thanksgiving feast. 

Pictured Above: Stained glass of Christ as king.

Cranberry Streusel Crown Cake


1 ½ cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1 ½ cups sour cream, room temperature
¾ cup vegetable oil
1 ½ tablespoons orange zest
1 ½ tablespoons vanilla extract
2 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ cup whole milk
2 1/4 cups fresh cranberries

Spiced streusel (see recipe)
Citrus glaze (see recipe)
Cranberry powder (see recipe)


  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat sugar, eggs, and egg yolk at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. With mixer on low speed, add sour cream, oil, orange zest, and vanilla. Increase speed to medium and beat until combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, five-spice powder, salt, and nutmeg. With mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture to sugar mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat just until combined. Fold in the cranberries.
  4. Spray a 10-cup crown bundt pan with flour baking spray. Use a pastry brush to make sure the entire surface, including all crevices are evenly covered with baking spray.
  5. Pour ⅓ of the batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle half of spiced streusel over batter. Add another ⅓ of batter. Sprinkle remaining spiced streusel over batter. Pour remaining batter on top, using an offset spatula to spread evenly over the spiced streusel. The pan will be very full but will not overflow while baking. Tap pan on kitchen-towel lined counter to settle batter and release air bubbles.
  6. Bake until a wooden pick inserted near the center comes out clean about 1 hour and 10 minutes.
  7. Let cool in pan for 30 minutes. Invert cake onto a wire rack and gently tap to loosen the cake from the pan. Let cool completely then pour citrus glaze over the cake and garnish with cranberry powder.

Spiced Streusel

1/3 cup all-purpose flour
⅓ cup granulated sugar
1 ½ tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder
1 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, sugars, cinnamon, and five-spice powder. Using your fingers, cut in butter until mixture resembles dry sand.

Citrus Glaze

2 ¼ cups confectioner’s sugar
1 to 3 teaspoons orange zest
1 teaspoon orange juice
1 to 3 tablespoons whole milk

In a small bowl, whisk together confectioner’s sugar and orange zest and juice until smooth. Add milk 1 tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached.

Cranberry Powder

½ cup freeze-dried cranberries
1 teaspoon cornstarch

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse cranberries and cornstarch until powdered.