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  • Writer's picturerodica godlewski

"the eyes of a peacock" cake

If you know me, you then know my favorite desserts involve walnuts. This classic Romanian dessert called "ochi de paun" combines the earthiness of walnuts with the freshness of sour cherries. This dessert is not only delicious, but also very pretty and quite easy to prepare.


for the dough:
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided

  • 1/2 cup lukewarm milk

  • 3 Tbs granulated sugar

  • 1 Tbs vanilla sugar

  • 1 Tbs dry yeast

  • 8 oz/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 3 egg yolks

  • 1 Tbs rum extract

  • the zest of one lemon

  • the zest of one orange

for the filling:

  • 3 egg whites

  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar

  • 3 cups ground walnuts

  • 1 Tbs rum extract

  • the zest of one lemon

  • the zest of one orange

  • 1/3 cup peach jam

  • 3 cups canned/pitted sour cherries, sweetened

to decorate:

  • confectioner's sugar


  1. In a small bowl lightly combine the milk, sugar, vanilla sugar, yeast, and 1/4 cup flour. Set aside for about 10 minutes until the yeast starts to bubble.

  2. Place the remainder 3 cups of flour in a large bowl, make a well in the middle and pour the yeast mixture. Add the butter, egg yolks, rum, lemon and orange zest. Combine all the ingredients into a dough and knead for 3 minutes.

  3. Place the dough into a bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Set aside and allow for the dough to rest for an hour.

  4. Meanwhile make the filling. In a medium-sized bowl whisk the egg whites with the sugar until stiff peaks form. Add the walnuts, rum extract, lemon and orange zest and incorporate. Do not over mix.

  5. Prepare a sheet pan with parchment paper.

  6. Divide the dough into 3 equal parts. Also divide the sour cherries into 3 equal parts. Roll each dough part unto parchment paper into a 17x9 inch rectangle. Spread a thin layer peach jam onto the entire surface of the dough.

  7. Start arranging the sour cherries alongside the length of each dough rectangle. Roll the dough inwards over the sour cherries on both sides. Leave 2 inches in the middle between the two sour cherry columns and pour the filling in there (see bellow pictures for reference).

  8. Preheat the oven to 360 degree F, convection setting. Arrange the dough rolls in the previously prepared pan (see bellow pictures for reference), and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the sheet pan from the oven, cover with a kitchen towel and allow to cool to room temperature. Cover with a plastic bag and keep covered at room temperature overnight.

  9. When ready to serve, sprinkle with confectioner's sugar and slice into desired serving slices.

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