Tarta de Santiago

This is a really well known traditional cake that you’ve probably seen many times before in books and blogs but I can’t resist bringing you my own version. It’s such a useful and versatile little treat. There are many variations around, including some which are more like a classic almond tart and some which are closer to the sort of substantial cake served with afternoon tea.

For my first attempts at baking this cake many, many years ago I used a recipe that included butter and very pleasant it was too. Then someone from Spain told me that I should try it without the butter and that’s the way I prefer to make it now. This version is light, moist, simple, flourless and, admittedly, a little fragile.

Although you can serve it very successfully with tea or coffee, this cake comes into its own as an excellent and easy dessert at any time of the year and after pretty much any sort of main course. You can serve it with cream, custard, yogurt or ice cream. You can also serve it with either fresh fruit or, even better I think, a seasonal fruit compote. Apricots poached in syrup with a dash or three of amaretto work especially well. I've even known some people to serve it alongside young, fresh-tasting cheeses.
Cross of St James
Traditionally, the cake should be sprinkled generously with icing sugar while a template is laid across the top in the shape of the St James cross. It’s a lovely tradition but I never use the template since it implies to me that I know what I'm doing and that I’ve made a genuine and authentic Tarta de Santiago. I’d never claim that.
Tarta de Santiago
You can use orange instead of lemon zest or a combination of both if you’d prefer. If I was being authentic I'd add cinnamon to the mix, but I prefer it without.

4 eggs, separated
200 g golden caster sugar
200 g ground almonds
Zest of 1 lemon
4 or 5 drops of almond extract
Icing sugar to finish

Carefully butter and line the base of a 20 cm cake tin. A springform tin is probably easiest – it doesn’t need to be very deep. Preheat the oven to 170°C.

Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together thoroughly. They should be very light in colour by the time you’ve finished. Sift the ground almonds to get rid of any lumps and stir them into the egg yolks. Then stir in the zest and almond extract. (The mixture will be quite firm at this stage). Whisk the egg whites to the stiff peak stage. Stir a few spoonfuls of the egg whites into the almond and egg mixture to loosen it and then fold in the rest.

Put the mixture into the prepared tin, level the top and bake in the oven for 30 – 35 minutes. Test with a skewer or the point of a knife. The skewer should come out clean but ideally the inside of the cake should remain moist and just a little squidgy. If the cake seems to be darkening too quickly during cooking, cover it loosely with foil after 15 minutes or so.

Allow the cake to cool a little in the tin before removing carefully to a cooling rack. Once cold, dust the cake generously with icing sugar (with or without a template in place).
Tarta de Santiago

‘T’ is the chosen letter in this month’s AlphaBakes challenge hosted by Ros from The More Than Occasional Baker (the host for this month’s challenge) and Caroline from Caroline Makes. So I'm submitting the Tarta as my entry.


  1. It's hard to believe so few ingredients could produce such a delicious looking cake - this is one I must try!

  2. Butterless and flourless too, what a fantastically simple dessert, it looks fabulous. I've just bought some apricots and am now keen to get poaching them in syrup - if only we had some guest to make a cake for. Mind you, that doesn't normally stop me ;-)

  3. Really surprised that it is butterless and flourless as it looks really moist and delicious. Must give this one a bash :)

  4. Wow, this comes as close to a 'healthy' cake as I've seen. A definite must try for me for sure... we have some gorgeous soft fruit happening here right now, and the compote idea makes complete sense.

  5. Wow this cake looks amazing! Butterless and flourless? I know a lot of people who would love this cake! Thanks for entering AlphaBakes!

  6. I keep coming across recipes for Tarta de Santiago in books and on blogs, but I've never actually tried it. Your version looks scrumptious, so I might need to sort that out!

  7. I adore Tarta de Santiago. This recipe looks like a definite keeper. Bet it's scrumptious with cream!

  8. I've never tasted Tarta de Santiago, but your description and photos have convinced me to give it a try!

  9. I am your hapy new follower :D DUDE, I LOVE your blog, it looks soo yummy :D


  10. So good to be back home and catch up with your wonderful treats; I look forward to trying this scrumptious cake with poached apricots - yummy!

  11. looks wonderfully moist. Would be delicious with some nice poached fruit and a spoonful of cream or even marscapone as a dessert at my next dinner party.

  12. I have this tome on Spanish cuisine ... and this tart has a little post-it note marking it off as one of the items on my culinary bucket list. I particularly love the idea of that traditional St. James cross - in the cookbook it's shown as this huge pewter cross with a handle coming up off it so that one can work around the cross (that is gently laid on the surface of the tart) with the sugar cannister ... the finished tart looks so dramatic ... yours looks wonderful too! Love the idea of those apricots swimming in a bit of Amaretto ... a perfect accompaniment and a nice touch, sir!

  13. this is my sort of cake. I can imagine dipping this into my tea... Mmm.. divine!

  14. I've made 5 of these in the past month. Honestly, it's hard to mess up on this one. I use Bobs Red Mill almond meal from the grocery store instead of grinding my own almonds and it's super easy!


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