5 Ingredients or Fewer

Tarta de Santiago (Almond Cake)

July 12, 2013
4 Ratings
  • Makes 6 to 8 slices
Author Notes

This simple almond cake with its beautiful design is sold in Santiago de Compostela in Spain, at the end of the Way of St. James, a pilgrimage that has existed since the 9th century. The cross is that of St James, whose relics are believed to lie in the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela.

As a traditional cake, I didn't want to stray far from existing recipes -- I based this on Claudia Roden's recipe in The Food of Spain. I halved the recipe as I tend to make small cakes. If you want to make a bigger one, double the recipe and use an 11-inch tin. I also removed the almond extract, as I'm not a fan and I think the almond flavour is strong enough without it. —Poires au Chocolat

What You'll Need
  • 125 grams (1 cup) blanched whole almonds
  • 3 large eggs
  • 125 grams (1/2 cup + 2 tbsp) granulated sugar
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
  • Zest of 1 lemon (or 1/2 a lemon and 1/2 an orange)
  • Icing sugar, to dust
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter a 7-inch tin then dust with flour until fully coated. Tap out any excess flour.
  2. Blitz the almonds until they're finely ground, though not super fine, as you want a bit of texture.
  3. Separate the eggs and place the yolks in a bowl with the sugar and salt. Whisk until they are pale, thick and glossy.
  4. Stir in the zest, followed by the almonds, to make a thick paste.
  5. Whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl to soft peaks. Add a big spoonful of the whites to the yolk paste and fold through to loosen it.
  6. Scrape the loosened yolk paste into the side of the bowl of whites. Carefully fold the two together until they are well combined with no lumps.
  7. Transfer the mixture to the prepared tin. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. The cake should be set, golden brown and a toothpick should come cleanly out of the center.
  8. Cool on a wire rack. Remove from the tin then place the cross template in the middle of the cake. Dust with icing sugar then carefully remove the template.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Mary Laband
    Mary Laband
  • Phil Adams
    Phil Adams
  • abatjour
  • zephyrflora
  • sarabclever
Emma Gardner. A baker, blogger & food history/literature geek.

35 Reviews

Mary L. March 2, 2020
I made this cake and it was delicious! I would highly recommend using parchment paper on the bottom of the pan since I had a terrible time trying to get the cake out of the pan. In fact, the bottom was stuck (even though I buttered and floured the pan as the recipe stated) so I did my best to get it out with a knife and spatula. In the process some of the cake was left in the pan. I managed to cover it up with a sprinkling of confectioner's sugar. Cake was moist and delicious though, so next time I will line the bottom with parchment paper.
neighome August 13, 2016
Can this cake be baked a day or two in advance?
Valerie A. August 30, 2015
I found the cake a bit "eggy" tasting so I substituted one of the yolks with whole milk (though next time I'll try whole milk yoghurt) and I found that got the flavor right. I also reduced the sugar to about 90g.
Ashoka A. November 12, 2014
I added the ground seeds of one cardamom pod, and it added a nice flavour. I loved this cake, it was simple and delicious-I can't wait to try the real thing in Santiago de Compostela!
Phil A. October 15, 2014
I don't have a 7 inch pan. How much would I need to increase the recipe to make an 8 inch?
Elizabeth D. December 25, 2019
Or, you could use the 7-inch pan and not use all the batter. Or also make them individual tortes by using ramekin cups.
mozhan May 3, 2014
Love this cake so much. Just a quick question. I have made it twice and it doesn't seem to rise as much as it looks like it does in this photo. How high is this cake, normally?
Cristina February 20, 2015
I am from Santiago the Compostela and never in my life have I seen a Tarta de Santiago that high! They are half of that thickness or less.
sofia April 15, 2020
I’m from La Coruña. You are right 👍
ghainskom March 14, 2014
Delicious little cake! My daughters (2, 6) loved it and one of them is very picky about cakes...However, I think I'll cut back on the sugar next time I make it.
Angus P. February 27, 2014
Ignore that last question; I had become fixated on the "1 cup"! :-)
Angus P. February 27, 2014
Did Celine get a response to her question about what weight of ground almonds she should use, if she didn't want to use whole almonds?
abatjour October 8, 2013
has anyone thought about beating egg whites FIRST and transferring them to another bowl? i do this all the time -
to no detriment to a recipe.

celine August 20, 2013
If I did want to try almond meal instead of grinding my own (understanding it would be less fine to use my own), do you have an idea of how much almond meal to use? Thanks!
Mary L. March 2, 2020
I used one cup of almond flour.
Louise B. July 28, 2013
Have you seen the terrible rail accident in Compostelle ?
78 pilgrims dead.
zephyrflora July 28, 2013
I've walked to Santiago two years ago, and a friend who did it a couple weeks ago will visit next month. So going to try this recipe then! Thanks :D
Louise B. July 24, 2013
I was asked to bake two cakes for a charity garden party and I have decided to make both of them the same. They are so distinctive with the cross. So many people eat gluten free now.
sarabclever July 24, 2013
Can't wait to try this!
jaimz July 22, 2013
This cake is beautiful and delicate!!! Very fun to make and tastes wonderful
Poires A. July 23, 2013
I'm so pleased you enjoyed it! I always think it's surprisingly delicate - so many almond cakes are quite dense (which is lovely too, of course).
Louise B. July 20, 2013
I buy my almonds already ground. I cook a lot of cakes gluten free and they always turn out great. 100 grams of ground almonds cost 1.49 and well worth it. No filler and dated for freshness..I buy many and freeze some. I always freeze nuts.
Poires A. July 22, 2013
I also buy ground almonds but for this cake I think it is worth the extra step of grinding them yourself, as I don't take it quite as fine as the shop-bought almonds, which gives the cake a wonderful texture. Thanks for the tips.
Louise B. July 22, 2013
I would do that also but for our grandaughter it is also a question of texture. Don't like hard bits she calls them.
Poires A. July 22, 2013
That makes sense, I can understand that the extra texture isn't for everyone.
ChefGam January 31, 2015
I'm no sure how to grind the almond. Is it best to grind in a Vitamix (the dry food pitcher) or a food processor?
sofia April 15, 2020
I use a coffee grinder. Works great.
Georgetown-DC July 20, 2013
I just made this cake. Something went terribly wrong. It looked beautiful when it came out of the oven the toothpick came out clean. Then when I got ready to run the knife around the edge it became clear the cake failed. The top cooked (about 1/8 inch) and it looked fantastic. The rest of the cake was uncooked and stuck down at the bottom. The only thing I can imagine is that something went wrong with the egg yolks, which I just got this morning from a very reputable farmer. When I was mixing them with the sugar it was very thick and clumpy, vice pale, thick and glossy. I almost redid that step but thought what could go wrong. The only other thing it could be is that I soaked the almonds over night in water to get the skins off vice blanching them. Perhaps there was too much water in the almonds. The top tastes fantastic. I'm trying to recook the bottom but at this point it's a failure. But the parts I have tasted are AMAZING. I will retry this in the future. I'm a cook not a baker, but I have never made this much of a mistake. THe good news is that I'm totally willing to do it all over again. My lunch party today though will have no dessert, we can have peaches instead. It's all good. I love concept of this cake and it's history. That's what made me want to make it. Thank you for sharing.
Poires A. July 22, 2013
I'm so sorry to hear you had problems. It sounds like yolks weren't quite right - did you whip them for a long time? It takes quite a few minutes on a stand mixer to get them fully pale. I can't imagine why else it would clump. Did it look like the batter in the step-by-steps in the article (http://food52.com/blog/7442-tarta-de-santiago-galician-almond-cake)? I think the extra water from soaking the almonds could also have made a difference - if I blanch them for this I dry them out in the oven for a bit before grinding them. Perhaps the cake also needed longer in the oven? Maybe if you're nervous of it sticking tot he bottom again, you could line the bottom of the tin with baking parchment, though it's not normally needed. I do hope you try it again - I'm sorry it didn't work out! Do let me know if you have any other questions.
Louise B. July 19, 2013
Will try it this weekend
Poires A. July 22, 2013
Do let me know how it goes :)
Louise B. July 22, 2013
It was great !! Our celiac granddaughter took the rest at home with here, I served it with a coulis of fresh rasberry.
I love your nickname, obviously french. I make poires au chocolat with almond paste inside.

Poires A. July 22, 2013
Ah, brilliant, I'm so pleased! The coulis sounds lovely.
It's the name of my blog - the first really good recipe I wrote from scratch was a pear and chocolate cake and so I named the blog after it. It's in French as my mum lives in the Swiss Alps. Your recipe sounds interesting, do you stuff the pears with the almond paste then?
zeidy July 19, 2013
Thanks for sharing. My mom loves this "tarta" I will do it for her next birthday! Thank you very much.
Poires A. July 22, 2013
I'm so pleased you like it - I hope your mom likes it too!