Monday, July 25, 2016

Tarta de Santiago, a Delicious Northern Spanish Cake!

On my second visit to Spain, before I finally settled in Madrid, I had the chance to visit the enchanting city of Santiago de Compostela.  This city is a top Christian pilgrimage site and at times it rivaled with Rome and Jerusalem. To this day, the city still attracts thousands of pilgrims and regular visitors drawn by the beauty of its architecture and especially its impressive cathedral.

Santiago de Compostela impressed me not only with its spirituality and architecture but also with its signature dessert: Tarta de Santiago. This gluten and lactose free pie, named after Saint James or Santiago and made with only three basic ingredients, is a joy to bake and eat.

This cake melts in your mouth, it has a slightly chewy texture that will remind you of  macaroons.To the basic ingredients, the cake is usually flavored with citrus peel but some add cinnamon and vanilla.

I remember falling in love immediately with the cake just after the first bite. I took two with me when I went back home and my family loved it too. Before settling in Spain for good it was the only sweet I was asked to bring back with me each time I visited the country.

The feast of Saint Santiago is on the 25th of July and that´s why I decided that it´s time to make this cake. It takes less than an hour to be ready, it's very delicious and it can be suitable for people with certain allergies. I really encourage you to give it a try, I'm sure you won't regret it!

For an 18 cm pan you need:
  • 2 large eggs
  • 150 g almond flour
  • 120 sugar (you can reduce the sugar quantity if you want)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • the zest of half an orange and half of a lemon
  • dash of salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
First, preheat the oven at 170 C.

There are 2 methods to make this cake, the first one is to combine all the ingredients, pour them in the greased pan and bake for about 20 to 25 min or until top is golden brown.

But if you want a cake that is a bit fluffier, separate the egg whites, beat them with the salt until stiff peaks are formed. Meanwhile combine sugar, almonds, citrus zest, cinnamon and vanilla.
Slightly beat the egg yolks, fold them with the egg whites then slowly add the almond mixture. Pour the mixture into the greased pan and bake for 20-25 min or until top and edges are golden brown.

Once the cake is cooled, dust it with some powdered sugar. This cake is traditionally decorated with the Cross of Santiago. You just need to print one, make a stencil out of it, lay it over the cake and dust the sugar over it, remove it carefully and you´re done. If this seems like a hassle to you, just decorate with some icing sugar.

Serve on its own or with some cream and enjoy a truly delicious Spanish delight.