St James's Cake

Tarta De Santiago

Named after the patron saint of Spain, this cake is common in Galicia, where there is a shrine to St James (lago) in Santiago de Compostella. It is traditionally adorned with a stencil pattern of his sword using icing sugar. It is a flourless, butterless cake with whole almonds still in their skins, finely ground. You must use a coffee grinder or spice grinder - an ordinary food processor will not grind them finely enough. Alternatively, you can use ordinary ground almonds, but the flavour and colour will be different.


serves 8 - 10
250 g whole almonds, with skins
6 large eggs, separated
200 g caster sugar
a large pinch of ground cinnamon
icing sugar, for dusting
butter, for greasing
fine sea salt
24 cm deep springform cake tin, greased with butter and base-lined (slash the paper so it reaches 3 cm up the sides)


1. Using a clean coffee grinder, grind the almonds until fine, with no lumps.

2. Put the egg whites and a pinch of salt in a bowl and whisk until soft peaks form. Whisk in half the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, to stabilize the whites.

3. Whisk the yolks with the remaining sugar and cinnamon until thick and the volume has increased. The mixture should leave a trail when you raise the whisk from the bowl.

4. Fold the ground almonds into the egg yolk mixture. Fold in a little of the whites to loosen the mixture, then fold in the remainder. Spoon into the tin and bake in a preheated oven at 180°C (350°F) Gas 4 for about 45 minutes until cooked, golden and firm but springy. Check after 35 minutes - if it is over-browning, cover with greaseproof paper and continue baking.

5. Remove from the oven and let cool in the tin on a wire rack for 10 minutes then unmould onto the rack to cool completely. Dust with icing sugar using a stencil of St James's sword if you wish.

What did you think?

11 people have helped to review this recipe. Thankyou!

posted by ben @ 09:42AM, 5/29/10
Great recipe
posted by Michael @ 10:13PM, 6/23/10
I made this cake with sore-bought ground almonds (no skins) and anyway, it turned out exceptionally well. Everyone who tried a piece claimed how moist and delicious it was.
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