The origin of cat’s eye or macskaszem is lost in the mists of time, but it’s sure that it belongs to the old fashioned Hungarian granny desserts. It’s likely that this pastry was named after its shape and sour cherry filling. It’s made of a shortcrust pastry, which contains yeast, too, spread with apricot jam and filled with pitted sour cherries and walnut meringue. Many recipes mention breadcrumbs to make a “bed” for the sour cherries, but I rather use ground poppy seeds instead. Cat’s eye can be baked all year round, not only in the sour cherry season; in this case canned sour cherries are as good as the fresh ones.
For the dough:
- 300 g (~2 1/2 cups) flour
- 4 egg yolks
- 140 g (~2/3 cup) butter
- 10 g (~1/3 oz) fresh yeast (1 tsp dry yeast)
- 50 ml (~3 1/2 tbsp) milk
- 1 tbsp sugar
For the filling:
- 200 g (~7 oz) ground walnuts
- 140 g (~3/4 cup) sugar
- 4 egg whites
- 6 tbsp apricot jam
- 40 g (~4 tbsp) ground poppy seeds
- 1/2 tbsp powdered sugar
- 250 g (~8 3/4 oz) pitted sour cherries
- 1 egg for the egg wash
Dissolve yeast and sugar in lukewarm milk.
Rub butter in the flour. Add egg yolks and activated yeast, and knead into a smooth, flexible dough. Divide dough into to equal pieces.
Drain pitted cherries.
Beat egg whites while adding sugar continously until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in the ground walnuts. Set aside.
Combine ground poppy seeds and half tablespoon of powdered sugar.
Preheat the oven to 180°C / 356°F.
On a floured surface roll out a dough ball into a thin rectangle. Spoon half of the ground poppy seeds in two streaks on the edge of the longer sides. Place pitted sour cherries close to each other on the poppy seed bed. Roll up the edges 2-3 times leaving a gap between them.
Spread 3 tablespoons of apricot jam evenly in the centre of the dough, then put half of the sweet walnut mixture and make even.
Carefully transfer the roll into a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Leave enough space for the second roll. Brush egg on top of the dough.
Repeat the procedure with the other dough ball.
Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.