Dec 18, 2022

Torta de Santiago
Spanish Almond Cake

Torta de Santiago
Santiago is a contraction of
the Galician name for
St. James—Sant Iago

Natalia Salces, Mariana M. Prats' youngest sister, makes this delicious and simple to prepare four-ingredient almond cake. It's like a marzipan that gets baked, making for a crispy crust with a soft center. 

Torta de Santiago is not only deliciously rich, but it has lineage. It is a version of a traditional Galician pastry also known as Tarta de Compostela, or outside of Spain as Spanish Almond Cake. To take it from just almond cake to an official Torta de Santiago, you must decorate it with the Cross of St. James using a stencil and powdered sugar. 

Once upon a time you would have to start with raw almonds, blanch them to soften their the brown skin, and rub it off each almond. Then you would need to grind the white almond meat into a grainy flour. Today you just buy a bag of blanched almond flour and save yourself a lot of time and trouble.

A stand mixer makes mixing much easier because the end result is a thick, sticky dough.

3 egg whites

1 tsp almond extract

3 cups powdered sugar

3 cups almond flour

Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease one 8 or 9 inch layer-cake pan with butter, then line the bottom with waxed paper, and finally, generously grease the waxed paper with more butter. Be thorough, or you’ll have trouble peeling it off later.

Start with the wire-whip beater to beat the egg whites to a soft peak. Reduce speed and add the almond extract, then slowly add the powdered sugar, mixing and scraping the sides of the bowl until it is all incorporated.

Change to the flat beater and slowly add the almond flour, scraping the sides of the bowl until you have a sticky wet dough.

If you want to be authentic, drop four to six raw almonds into the bottom of the cake pan, and turn out the batter on top of them. Cover with plastic wrap and use your fingers to press the dough evenly into the pan, then peel it off carefully.

Bake for 45 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool until you can handle the pan. Run a knife around the edge of the pan and invert onto a plate, bottom-side up. Peel off the wax paper. Place the stencil on the cake, dust with powdered sugar, and carefully remove the stencil.

Cut very small wedges when serving as it is very rich and sweet. Serves 8 to 12 people. It keeps for a week on the counter, covered, but it so tasty it will disappear before then.


Click here to download a St. James Cross stencil.  Print it and cut out the outline.