I start my trip off with Spain!
As I’ve mentioned in the “About” section, I’m doing research on each country, but if I can get recommendations from natives, I’ll prioritize that recommendation if I think I can do it. This particular cake was a recommended by a coworker of my roommate, who is indeed from Spain. I joined up with my roommate and a few of her coworkers on St. Patrick’s day for dinner, and as soon as I learned that two of them were Spanish, I kept thinking *I MUST ASK THEM ABOUT FOOOOD!* Finally, right before we all got up to leave, I got up the nerve to ask them about traditional Spanish baked goods (I’m bad a people-ing so it took some nerve), and the Tarta de Santiago was on their list!
I did a bit of research on it, and it is -surprise surprise- from the city of Santiago, Spain, and is an almond based cake. From what I read, this is a thing that bakeries and restaurants will make fresh and hand out samples to the passers-by on the streets to lure them into said eating establishment! It also seems to always have that a specific cross shape stenciled in with powdered sugar.
This was a nice easy recipe to start off my baking adventure with! Although I couldn’t find blanched almonds at my local grocery store, so I just got some raw ones, and blanched and peeled them myself (first time) and I’m unnecessarily proud of that HA! (Its the little things). Fun fact for all you gluten-free people out there, this recipe has no flour in it at all! It uses ground almonds, and whipped egg whites to give it volume.
Mine rose up more around the edges than in the middle, so it wasn’t nice and flat like other pictures I’ve seen, but…still tasted good!
This Tarta de Santiago has a nice mild flavor, and kind of a crunchy texture, but as I’ve never actually had one of these before, I’m not sure if that’s how its supposed to be or if I just didn’t process my almonds fine enough! This recipe had lemon and orange zest as well, so it had a nice subtle citrus flavor too.
Since this particular cake seems to always have that particular cross shape on top, I was too lazy to walk across my apartment to print a template with our printer, and instead decided to save time (read: take much more time) hand drawing it and then cutting it out, so I wouldn’t have to leave the kitchen cuz, ya know….ain’t nobody got time for that!
Anyway, here’s a link to the recipe I used, from the blog Vintage Mixer.
- 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
- Finely grind the almonds in a food processor.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.