Tarta de Santiago Recipe

Tarta de Santiago Recipe, a Spanish Almond Cake

Written by Becky

This is a recipe I’ve been trying to get my hands on for years. Ever since walking the last 100 miles of the El Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage of Northern Spain, and tasting this regional cake, I’ve been on a hunt for the traditional Tarta de Santiago Recipe. I tested several versions at home and finally found the perfect one on epicurious.com by Claudia Roden. This special almond cake, which also happens to be a gluten free cake, is made in cities across Northern Spain and enjoyed by the locals as well as those taking the journey to Santiago, the city where Saint James’ body lay.

Tarta de Santiago RecipeBack in my college days, I had the chance to walk the last 100 miles (about 7 days) of this pilgrimage also known as The Camino de Santiago (translated the way of Saint James). Legend holds that St. James’s remains were carried by boat from Jerusalem to northern Spain where he was buried on the site of what is now the city of Santiago de Compostela. Folks from all over the world take this trek in search of more spiritual answers in their own life or just as a time of travel and exercise. Many consider the experience a spiritual adventure to remove themselves from the bustle of modern life. It serves as a retreat for many modern “pilgrims”.

Tarta de Santiago Cake Recipe

The starting point for this pilgrimage is different for many.  Today tens of thousands of travelers set out each year from their front doorstep, or popular starting points across Europe, to make their way to Santiago de Compostela.  We started about 7 days out and ventured through modern as well as medieval cities, some days feeling as if we had literally traveled back in time.

Tarta de Santiago Almond Cake Recipe

Along the way, we camped at different sites and found places to eat, from small cafes to local’s homes.  Every city or town that we walked through had cafes with one item in common, the Tarta de Santiago.  This cake is made from almonds, lemon and orange zest and a few other ingredients.  It’s simplicity and rustic nature remind be of the simplicity of many of the towns we journeyed through.  The cross on top of the cake is a symbol of Saint James, and is appropriately stenciled on the top of every cake in the region.

Now that I’ve found my prized recipe I am sure I’ll be making it for years to come and remembering my special time in Spain.

Tarta de Santiago Spanish Cake Recipe

Tarta de Santiago Recipe, a Spanish Almond Cake

Rating: 51

Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound (1 3/4 cups) whole almonds, preferably blanched
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 1 1/4 cups superfine sugar
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 4 drops almond extract
  • Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Instructions

  1. Finely grind the almonds in a food processor.
  2. With an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks with the sugar to a smooth pale cream. Beat in the zests and almond extract. Add the ground almonds and mix very well.
  3. With clean beaters, beat the egg whites in a large bowl until stiff peaks form. Fold them into the egg and almond mixture (the mixture is thick, so that you will need to turn it over quite a bit into the egg whites).
  4. Grease an 11-inch springform pan, preferably nonstick, with butter and dust it with flour or spray with cooking spray. Pour in the cake batter, and bake into a preheated 350°F for 40 minutes, or until it feels firm to the touch. Let cool before turning out.
  5. Just before serving, dust the top of the cake with confectioners' sugar. Or, if you like, cut a St. James cross out of paper. Place it in the middle of the cake, and dust the cake with confectioners' sugar, then remove the paper.

Notes

Stencil the top of the cake using the traditional cross symbol of Saint James.

http://www.thevintagemixer.com/2013/03/tarta-de-santiago-recipe-a-spanish-almond-cake-from-spain/

Here is a pdf of the cross that you may print out and use for the top of your cake.  Simply click on the image and when it opens in a new page, print out that page.  Cut out the cross then use it as a stencil as you sprinkle the cake with powdered sugar.

Tarta de Santiago printable cross

Comments (84)

  1. Happy Easter and what a great adventure you had. Really, once-in-a-lifetime type things.

    Thank you for sharing this cake recipe. It sounds delicious!

  2. I have always wanted to try an almond cake like this, but I’ve never come across one with such a great story behind it! Thank you for sharing your memories of The Camino de Santiago, sounds like an incredible experience.

  3. thank you for the lovely post – i enjoyed both the story and the recipe. what a wonderful experience you must of had. i’m guessing you found it to be enlightening on a variety of levels. I would love to try the recipe but unfortunately do not have a food processer. could i make it suscessfully with purchased almond flour? if so, do you know what the equivalent in flour would be that amount of almonds? thanks for any thoughts you might have.

    • It should be about 2 and 1/4 cups of almond flour, though I haven’t tried it that way yet. Please comment back if you try it using almond flour! I’d love to hear how it turned out.

  4. I made this for Easter brunch, and it was SO GOOD! I used 1 3/4 cups almond flour, I didn’t really think about what amount 1 3/4 cups almonds would turn into. It worked out though! I also added a dash of vanilla, and a couple tablespoons of grapefruit juice. It was a huge hit at my family brunch. My step dad told me it was the best thing I’ve ever made, so thank you!

    • You’re too sweet Carrian!! Really traveling a little bit only makes you want to travel more… there is so much more of the world I want to see, so many more cultures to learn from and people to meet!! I think this is why I love teaching English so much too :)

  5. ThankYou so much for this recipe!!! I just love love love this cake – it”s sooooo moist and delicious!!!!
    I have one question – what do You think if it would be ok to replace sugar with honey?! There is lot of sugar in the recipe, and I was thinking about the ways to make this delicious cake even more healthier?! Thank You!!!

    • I’m not sure about it because the consistency of the cake might change. If you try it, I would try just part honey. Please do let me know how it turns out!!

  6. Thanks so much for the recipe – I’m in Santiago de Compostela now & have had 2 days – wish I was able to walk The Way but have enjoyed meeting pilgrims & hearing their stories. I can’t wait to make the cake!

  7. I’ve just returned from our Camino; we started in Sarria and walked the last section also, enjoying Tarta de Santiago along the way. Thanks for the recipe!

  8. I make this often, to rave reviews – it is a gorgeous
    Cake and looks awesome with the cross on top.
    You can buy almonds already ground and while
    Almond flour works okay it is richer with actual
    Ground almonds. I use erythritol (available at most
    Health food stores) for all my baking instead of sugar.
    It is a powder and you use 1:1 so easy substitute. With erythritol you end up with a gluten and sugar free gorgeous cake.

    • WOW! I will have to try erythritol, sounds intriguing for those looking to lower sugar intake. And I’m sure the cake still tastes fabulous with all the nutty almond flavor.

  9. Dear Becky, What a lovely cake! It would be respectful if you would attribute this recipe to its author, which you have duplicated exactly from James Beard award winner Claudia Roden, which she first shared in 1968 and then adapted to a simpler version. Although the cake’s history goes back to the middle ages, it was a cake served during Passover in medieval Spain, when the many Jews who lived there could not eat flour during Passover. The history of this cake can be found in a wonderful BBC interview with Claudia Roden available on the internet. Thank you for sharing and also for attributing it.

    • Lisa, thanks so much for your comment. I added that attribution, thanks for letting me know that it was forgotten. That is something I always try and have on my recipes that are not my own but occasionally I do forget!

  10. I loved this cake!! We finished our Camino on June 22 of this year. I first tasted the cake in a small albergue in Fonfria. I think I ate it at least once a day from then until leaving Spain. I immediately looked for a recipe when we got back to Canada and I’m planning to make it tonight. Yummmmmm.

  11. 2 1/4 cups almond meal is way too much. The egg yolk & almond flour mixture came out the consistency of natural peanut butter.

  12. Becky, we were 35 days from St Jean Pied de Port to Santiago, including one rest day in Burgos. We took the bus to Finisterre but I think it would be a good stretch to walk, and then on to Muxia. I miss it. And the cake. And the wine.

  13. Wow!!! Can’t wait to try your recipe :) So happy it’s gluten free! I’ve been looking for a Tarta de Santiago’s recipe for a while… as I fell in love with it while walking the Camino! (my 2nd time this spring, 40 days from Bayonne to Santiago, first time was 4 years ago, 65 days from Le Puy… I miss it!) Definitely gonna do it really soon :)

  14. Nice post. I would like to walk the Camino myself one day–and yeah, I have sought the ‘perfect torta de Santiago’ myself and found a couple–one of which is gluten-free for those so disposed. I more typically make one with a 1/3 cup of flour which, on reflection, might not be necessary.

    Nice post!

  15. We have just returned from wslking the last 115k. A fantastic experience! I just thought I would have a look for the recipe and found your site. We are having a little reunion for the 12 of us who walked, so now i can made the tart for the evening. Thank you!

    • Congratulations!! I hope the walk was spiritually enlightening for you and that now you can rest in God’s arms. This cake always makes me relive those sweet memories. Enjoy!

  16. My husband and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary today and we decided to spend the night in. After deciding on paella I set out to find a spanish influenced dessert and stumbled across this recipe. I am so glad that I did. The nutty, citrus flavor is amazing and while satisfying the sweet tooth it is not over indulgent. I took a queue from the picture and served with homemade whipped cream. This is going to be a staple in my dessert arsenal- thank you for sharing!

  17. Thanks for doing the research and finding this recipe. Hopefully, sometime in the future, I will be able to visit Northern Spain and enjoy it there too. Just pinned!

  18. hello, i was wondering if you use any flour in the recipe? is the cake batter consisted of all the ingrediants without flour? thanks!

  19. Two of my good friends and I finished the Camino in July/August 2012 from St. Jean to Finesterre (we walked 34 days) We still get together and talk for hours about our experience! Really excited to try this recipe- I’ve had a hankerin’ for some. I think I had at it at least once a day after I tried it for the first time!

    • Gina, I felt the exact same way when we returned and it took me years to track down the right recipe!! Now we’ll have it every year. Hope you enjoy it too!

  20. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. It was very delicious and received rave reviews! I loved the citrus flavor with the almonds.
    I did blanch my almonds which I’m sure makes a difference in the texture of the cake. I was really surprised at how moist it came out!
    Next time I’ll grind the almonds a little finer, I was afraid to over process them and end up with almond paste….I just made it and I’m planning on making it again this coming weekend!

  21. I’ve been wanting this since I returned from my Camino in early November (33 days from SJPdP to Santiago). Ate it every chance I got along The Way. I hope to try this recipe soon.

    Buen Camino!

  22. Åh thanks for the recipe. Will make it tonight on new year’s eve I think. I walked Saint Jean Pied de Port to Santiago de Compostela during 23 days this autumn and the cake was something I really enjoyed as I’m gluten and lactose intolerant and there wasn’t many desserts for me.

    The best tarta de Santiago I had during my pilgrimage on the Camino Inglés right after the Francés. In the small albergue in Bruma that got it’s food from a bar a couple of kilometer away. It was perfect.

  23. Hi, My husband and I who are both 65 are planning on walking the whole Camino Frances in September 2014. My husband has had major back reconstruction in 2013 and this is his “carrot”. He will probably walk/bus/taxi some of it but I am going to try to walk the whole way. ANYWAY, two friends of mine who know I am in training gave me a bottle of Spanish Rojo for my birthday a month ago so I am planning a dinner with them enjoying the wine. I was looking for a Spanish Almond Tart for desert and here it is. Gracias.

    • Sonia, I’m so excited for you and your husband. It will be a trip of a lifetime!! You will definitely see this cake along the way. Please report back after your trip!! I would love to hear stories and how it went. buen camino, Becky

  24. Hi Becky, I am spanish. I live in Australia and came by your site and recipe today. I will surely try it. I originally come from the city of Estella in Navarra, Spain. It is one of the cities you must cross in your Camino de Santiago from the Pyrinees. I am looking forward to trying your recipe. Thank you for your dedication. God bless you. Isabel

    • Isabel, that makes me so happy that you came to my site!! Please do tell me how the cakes turns out for you and if it is like the traditional one. Take care, Becky

  25. I’m taking a course for people who want to volunteer as hospitaleros. I will be staying at someone’s home as the course is in Victoria and I live in Vancouver. I was musing aloud to my daughter about something to bring as a thank you and she suggested I make this cake. What an excellent idea! I’m sure everyone will be thrilled.

    Donna

  26. This is a fabulous cake- thank you from Hawaii.
    I baked this for Easter. For those of you wanting to reduce sugar: I used 3/4 cup Coconut Sugar which a super food & has one of the lowest glycemic counts of any natural sweetener. It also has magnesium, potassium & B vitamins. Look for NAVITAS brand. It’s a fine dark brown sugar which produced a lovely golden cake. The cut-out cross was a lovely and zi can’t then you enough Becky! Beautiful images & recipe Instructions! Aloha from Maui!

  27. Delicious cake. Came out very well. I may have measured out a little too much ground almonds as mixing with the eggs caused smoke to come out if my hand blender! – eg a very thick mixture. I added some orange juice to loosen the mixture and in fact put in the rind of 2 oranges with the lemon, rather than just the one. Next time I will add even more as I prefer a stronger citrus taste. I carried on mixing by hand and it baked very nicely. Thanks, I really loved it, as did all the family. Now I’m off to buy another blender! Victoria

  28. Is is possible to make this the day before and add the confectioner’s sugar just before serving?
    I have a big meal with paella to make and wanted to see how long this could be done in advance.
    Thanks for this great recipe!

    • I think this would be fine if made the day before or even two days out. Refrigerate until you’re ready to serve it. Sounds like a fabulous meal you have planned… enjoy!

  29. I just came back from Santiago Compostella and my husband and I were bemoaning the last bit of cake that I brought back with me. They had told me in the shop, not to refrigerate and that it would hold. Their expiry was about 10 days and it did last. Thanx for the recipe, can’t wait to try it.

  30. The meal went great, and to make the cross image really sharp and beautiful, I put 3 straight pins along the vertical part of the cross and then dusted the cake with powdered sugar. With the help of one more hand, we were able to pull the cross off without disturbing the image and keeping it sharp and clean. It was beautiful in the end and soooo tasty. I also had trouble finding an 11 inch spring form pan, so I used a ten inch pan, and at 40 minutes, I turned the oven off and went 5 more minutes and it was cooked perfectly in the 10 inch pan. Thank you!

  31. Used 1/2 the sugar as I routinely do and it was still too sweet to my taste.
    ! Will cut it further – perhaps try using just a bit of honey.
    Sugar, it turns out is terrible stuff for the body-the research is in -so I keep trying to lower.

  32. I have just come home after completing the Camino and had my family around so really wanted to make this. It was just like I had and everyone enjoyed the cake along with the stories and photos.

    • That sounds just perfect Daryl!! So glad you could share a slice of the Camino with your family! I hope your journey was enlightening and encouraging!

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