Spanish almond cake is the dessert you didn’t know you needed
Without blinking an eye, my daughter can turn out a batch of Boston cream pie cupcakes. The endeavor involves making a cake batter, a cream filling and a chocolate ganache (for the topping), and afterward assembling 12 cupcakes. This is the same daughter who raises an eyebrow at making a non-dessert recipe that involves the same amount of time.
I like desserts as much as the next person, but I am always on the lookout for something that can be put together quickly but doesn’t include Cool Whip and Jell-O pudding mix. I discovered just what I was looking for at the bottom of an internet rabbit hole.
I began by reading about the traditional pilgrimage in northern Spain called Camino de Santiago. When the pilgrims reach the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, where the relics of the apostle Saint James are believed to be buried, they are served a traditional treat called Tarta de Santiago, or Spanish almond cake. Of course, there was a link for the recipe. When I saw that the cake had just three ingredients, I knew I had found my new favorite dessert.
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Since the cake contains no wheat flour, it is naturally gluten-free. Tarta de Santiago is usually decorated with powdered sugar and a stencil of the cross of Saint James. However, it may have had its origin in a Passover cake brought to northern Spain by Jews fleeing Andalucía in the 12th and 13th centuries.
The recipe is quite simple — equal parts by weight of each ingredient. Knowing these proportions, the cake size can be scaled up or down to fit the occasion or the pan size you have available. For this reason, the recipe is written with both traditional and metric measurements, where a large egg is 50 grams. Traditionally, Spaniards grind the almonds, but I saw no reason why almond flour wouldn’t work just as well.
Whether you are on a gluten-free diet or looking for the perfect dessert for your Seder, Tarta de Santiago satisfies both requirements. Or if you are like me, think of it as an easy dessert that doesn’t stint on flavor.
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Tarta de Santiago
- 4 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar (200 grams)
- 2 cups almond flour (200 grams)
- Zest from 1 lemon or orange
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- Powdered sugar for dusting on top
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line an 8-inch springform pan with parchment on the bottom and grease or spray the sides.
Crack the eggs into a bowl and add the sugar. With a hand mixer, beat together until well combined and starting to become lighter in color with a bit of air in the mixture, about 5 minutes. Add the almond flour, lemon zest and cinnamon, then mix until just combined.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and place in the preheated oven. Bake for approximately 30 minutes until the top is brown and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool 10-15 minutes on a cooling rack before removing the outer ring.
Dust with powdered sugar when completely cool.
— Julie Falsetti, a York native, comes from a long line of good cooks. Her column, From Scratch, runs twice monthly in The York Dispatch food section. Reach her with questions and comments at email@example.com.