Tarta de Santiago is a simple cake hailing from Spain. It’s made with typical Spanish ingredients like eggs, sugar, almonds and lemon and is ready in about 35 minutes.
About Tarta de Santiago
Tarta de Santiago, translated as the “Cake of Saint James,” is a traditional dessert originating from the Galicia region of Spain.
Made primarily from almonds, it’s a simple, dense cake that has become a staple in Spanish cuisine. Despite using uncomplicated ingredients—almonds, sugar, eggs, and hints of lemon zest and cinnamon—its rich history is anything but simple.
The cake’s name and origins are intertwined with the Camino de Santiago, the pilgrimage route leading to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.
It’s theorized that the cake was consumed by pilgrims making the long journey, as almonds were a readily available and nutritious source of sustenance in the region. Over time, the cake became more widely known and beloved, even by those not making the pilgrimage.
Often, the top is dusted with icing sugar, with a silhouette of the St. James Cross left undusted in the center.
About This Recipe
This is one of the easiest cake recipes you’ll do. If you have kids, even they can get involved!
Gluten-free cakes can be a little heavy, but it works fine here. Even though there isn’t any raising agent, the eggs give it some ‘lift’ and it still tastes unusually light.
For the ratio, 1 large egg is 50g. For every 1 egg, you need 50g of almonds and sugar, so 50g of each. We’re using 3 eggs, so you’ll need 150g blanched almonds and 50g caster sugar. Easy peasy!
If you want to make a bigger or smaller cake, you can keep the same weight proportions but remember you’ll need to adjust the cooking times. A traditional cake is relatively flat, so use a larger tin if you’re making it bigger to compensate.
Why You Should Try It
- Super Easy + Perfect for New Bakers: If you haven’t done a lot of baking, then this is a great recipe to start with. The cake doesn’t require any intricate steps – simply mix the ingredients, pour into a pan, and bake. It’s straightforward, especially for beginners.
- Gluten-Free: Since it uses blanched almonds rather than traditional flour, it’s naturally gluten-free, making it a suitable choice for those with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease.
- Simple Ingredients: The Tarta de Santiago is made from basic, easy-to-find ingredients (much like a French toast. carrot cake or these chocolate chip and walnut cookies) like almonds, eggs, lemons, and sugar. You probably already have most of them in your home.
You only need 8 ingredients to make this Spanish Almond Cake! If you’re feeling a little sweet craving, then you likely already have everything on hand. Let’s talk about what you need below.
- Eggs: Eggs bind the ingredients together and provide structure to the cake, helping the cake rise and giving it a moist texture. Choose free-range or organic eggs for a richer taste if possible.
- Lemon Zest: The zest gives it a more lemony taste thanthe juice. Feel free to add more or less depending on taste. If you need a substitute, orange zest is a good alternative.
- Blanched Almonds: These are the heart of Tarta de Santiago and give it its unique nutty flavor. You can use almond flour, though the texture might slightly differ.
- Cinnamon: Although it’s not found in all of these cakes, it works very nicely.
- Butter: Butter is used here simply to help grease the pan and prevent sticking.
- Salt: Salt amplifies other flavors and balances the sweetness.
- Sugar: Casting sugar is best for the and icing sugar for the dusting. Icing sugar is also called powdered sugar or confectioner’s sugar.
- Vanilla Extract: This adds some extra flavor to the cake. It’s optional and not traditional, but recommended.
How to Make Spanish Almond Cake
It’s really easy to make this cake.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a 9 inch/23cm round cake tin with parchment on the bottom and rub the sides with a little butter.
2. Crack the eggs into a large bowl and add the sugar
3. Beat until it lightens in color.
4. Add the blanched almonds, lemon zest, cinnamon, vanilla extract and salt into the mixture and ensure everything is well combined.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and smooth the surface.
6. Bake for around 25-30 minutes until the top is golden brown. If you’re not sure it’s cooked, put a toothpick or cake tester into the cake. If it comes out clean, it’s cooked. If not, continue baking.
7. Once baked, remove and let cool. Sift the icing sugar over the cake and serve.
More Spanish Recipes
If you’re planning a Spanish-themed party, here are some other delicious Spanish recipes you can try:
- Spanish Potato Salad (Ensalad Rusa)
- Spanish Garlic Bread Soup (Sopa de Ajo)
- Spanish Vegetable Stew (Spanish Pisto)
Tips for Making This Spanish Almond Cake
- We’ve used a 9 inch/23 cm cake tin. You can easily use a larger or smaller pan, but remember this may change the baking time slightly.
- To check if the cake is baked, insert a toothpick or cake taster into the cake. If it comes out clean it’s done. If it’s still wet, it needs a few more minutes.
- The cake is not meant to be very high.
- For every large egg (about 50g), use 50g of blanched almonds and 50g caster sugar. This recipe uses 3 eggs, so you’ll need 150g of blanched almonds and 150g caster sugar.
- Some recipes you see use a puff pastry as a base, though it’s not traditional.
- 3 eggs
- ¾ cup (150g) caster sugar
- Butter, to grease the pan
- 1 ½ cups (150g) blanched almonds
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tbsp icing sugar, to dust
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C).
- Line a 9 inch/23cm round cake tin with parchment on the bottom and rub the sides with a little butter.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs and sugar together until the color lightens.
- Fold in the almonds, lemon zest, cinnamon, vanilla extract and salt into the egg and sugar mixture, using a wooden spatula to ensure everything is well combined, but not overmixed.
- Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and smooth the surface. Bake in the preheated oven for around 25-30 minutes. The top of the cake should be golden brown.
- Once baked, remove the cake from the oven and let it cool in the tin for about 10 minutes. Sift the icing sugar over the cake and serve.
- If you put a skewer into the center after baking, you’ll know it is ready when it comes out clean.
- The cake is often decorated using a St. James Cross stencil. If you don't have a specific stencil, you can cut one out from a piece of card paper. Place in the center of the cake and sift the icing sugar generously over the cake.
- For every large egg (about 50g), use 50g of blanched almonds and 50g caster sugar. This recipe uses 3 eggs, so you'll need 150g of blanched almonds and 150g caster sugar.
Amount Per Serving Calories 316Total Fat 17gSaturated Fat 3gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 13gCholesterol 98mgSodium 281mgCarbohydrates 35gFiber 3gSugar 29gProtein 9g
Want More Delicious, Mediterranean-Style Recipes?
If you’ve cooked this recipe, be sure to leave a comment or review! But if you’re looking for more: