Tarta de Santiago, literally Cake of Saint James, is a cake made primarily of eggs, sugar and almonds. As with all cakes made with almond meal it is moist and slightly dense. The hint of lemon gives it a delightful lift. I served this cake with an inauthentic accompaniment of lemon curd for an extra lemon punch.
While a Galician specialty this cake is popular throughout Spain. Tarta de Santiago was even selected as Spain’s representative for the Cafe Europe cultural show. Overall I felt it was a good choice for celebrating Spain’s Fiesta National de Espana (12 October).
I found quite a few variations for this cake when researching recipes. All comprised the same key ingredients of almonds, sugar and eggs but some recipes also had orange zest, almond essence, cinnamon and even a pastry base. Of course, there was also many different sizes, ranging from small tarts to tall cakes. I chose to follow Claudia Roden’s recipe, adapting it slightly, as she is such an authority on this type of cuisine. However next time I make this cake, and I will definitely make it again, I will try it with the cinnamon.
I didn’t have any desserts as good as this when I went to Spain, but at least I’ve discovered it now. What is your favourite Spanish dessert?
I recommend you use an electric mixer, either standing or hand held, for this recipe.
5 eggs, separated
210g caster sugar
Zest of 2 lemons
210g almond meal
butter, to grease the tin
flaked almonds, to decorate
icing sugar, to decorate
Preheat the oven to 180C. Line the base of a 22.5cm/9inch springform tin with baking paper and grease the sides with butter. Press some of the flaked almonds onto the buttered sides keeping in mind that cake isn’t very high. The flaked almonds here are optional but it adds a lovely toasty flavour and crunch. It also looks really pretty.
Beat the egg yolks and sugar together until pale and creamy. Add the zest and almonds; mix. It will be quite thick.
In a separate bowl beat the egg whites until stiff.
Add the egg whites to the almond mix, a third at a time, and stir with a spatula until combined.
Spread the batter into the tin and bake for approx 30 minutes. Allow to cool in the tin.
While the cake is cooking toast the almonds by placing them in a dry non-stick frypan over medium heat and turning frequently.
Place on a serving plate and decorate with icing sugar and flaked almonds.
This recipe makes a modest quantity of curd, about 3/4 cup, which is just enough to serve with this cake.
1 egg yolk
80g caster sugar
40g butter, cut into cubes
zest and juice of 1 lemon
Place the egg, egg yolk and sugar in a small saucepan and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the remaining ingredients and cook over a low heat. Stir frequently, constantly if you can, until the mix has thickened, about 8-10 minutes. Strain the curd if eating the little zesty bits bothers you more than washing up the strainer. I left the zest in.