This super traditional Spanish cake first caught my eye because of its short list of ingredients and the fact that it uses no flour, just finely ground almonds, as the base. Another example of how a couple of simple ingredients can transform themselves into something special. This cake is moist, deliciously not-too-sweet, delicate and crumbly which makes it great with a cup of coffee in the afternoon. Simran and I and our friend Rachel happy nibbled away on this during a recent afternoon of recipe testing… and the fact that I wasn’t nice enough to save any for my family to try will give you an idea of how much I liked it.
In addition to being a lovely accompaniment to afternoon coffee this is a cake also has a long history. It dates back to the 16th century where it has been enjoyed by Santiago locals and pilgrims making their way to the Cathedral of Santiago Compostel (the burial place of St. James, the patron saint of Spain.). This recipe also happens to be gluten-free which comes in handy as well.
Tarta de Santiago (Spanish Almond Cake)
Adapted from: “The Family Meal: Home Cooking with Ferran Adria“).
Makes one 9″ x 13″ cake (we used a quarter sheet pan), will keep for several days in an airtight container
- 2 1/2 cup finely ground almonds
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- confectioners Sugar (for dusting the cake)
- 1 tablespoon Butter and 1 tablespoon flour (for greasing the pan)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter the edges and bottom of the pan and sprinkle the greased surface with flour, tapping out the excess (you could use rice flour if you want to keep this cake gluten free). Line the bottom of the pan with a piece of parchment. This is a delicate cake, so the parchment is very important for being able to remove the cake from the pan cleanly.
- Combine ground almonds, lemon zest and cinnamon and set aside.
- Beat the eggs and sugar for 5 minutes during which time the eggs will become gorgeously thick and will lighten in color.
- Carefully fold in the almond mixture being careful not to deflate the air you’ve just incorporated into the eggs, then pour then batter into the prepared pan (the batter will be only about 1/2″ thick).
- Bake for 20 minutes, or until top is golden and knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Let it cool to allow the cake to set and to make it easier to cut. Run a knife along the edges of the pan to loosen the edges and use the edges of the parchment to carefully lift/slide the cake out of the pan. Cut into wedges and dust with confectioners sugar right before serving.