Enjoying a Tarta de Santiago (Spanish for “Cake of St. James”) is a quintessential way to celebrate the Feast of St. James! This delicious almond cake dates back to the Middle Ages, with the earliest written reference being from 1577 (under the name Torta Real, or “royal cake,” at the time).
A hallmark of the Tarta de Santiago is its decoration: an imprint of the Cross of St. James; legends surrounding the origin of this cross shape tell of St. James’ appearance at the Battle of Clavijo, in answer to the Galicians’ prayers for victory.
Tarta de Santiago
A brightly-flavored almond cake
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 cups almond flour
- Zest from one lemon
- Optional: 1 T liquor (grape liquor called orujo is traditional)
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 T powdered sugar (for dusting the top)
- Preheat oven to 350*. Grease the sides and bottom of a round cake pan.
- Mix together the eggs and sugar, until somewhat frothy.
- Stir in the lemon zest. If using liquor, add the liquor and gently stir.
- Add the almond flour and cinnamon to the egg mixture and stir gently.
- Poor batter into cake pan and bake for about 30 minutes. Allow to cool before removing from the pan.
- When completely cool, place a stencil of the Cross of St. James in the middle of the cake. Put powdered sugar into a fine-mesh strainer and gently tap to release the sugar over the top of the cake. Carefully remove the stencil when done.