Santiago Cake

It’s three more months and my maternity leave is over – yet I have another 15 pounds of baby weight to lose! Argh (pulling my hair out)! Ideally, before I go back to work, I’d love to fly across the big pond to northern Spain and do a two-week pilgrim’s journey to the Galician city of Santiago de Compostela. Surely, if I walked for days straight, I’d lose a few pounds here and there, right?

I know a friend who did two-weeks’ worth of self-discovery along this ancient pilgrimage route. Her husband joined her for a shorter one week walk. A year later, they were divorced. Must have been some soul-searching they did along the way.

If I had the opportunity, I would do the 1) Camino Francés, which starts in St. Jean-Pied-du-Port near Biarritz in France and weaves 800 kilometres northwest to Santiago de Compostela. It passes through Roncesvalles, Pamplona, Torres del Rio, Burgos, Leon, and Astorga, to name just a few places I’d love to see.

Or, I would do 2) Camino del Norte, one of the longer routes, which starts in Irun near the French border and makes it way along the coast, 825 kilometres to Santiago de Compostela. It passes through San Sebastian, Bilbao, and Santander, among many.

Once the pilgrims reach the city of Santiago de Compostela, where the remains of St. James are believed to be in the cathedral, they are met with these almond cakes on the windowsills of every pastry shop there. Sort of like a well-earned reward for the long trek, I suppose?

Sigh. How I wish I could just pick up and go, like the old times…Oh, but this is just me dreaming about stuff again.

Back to the cake. This is usually baked in a wide cake pan and is meant to come out low (a maximum of 5/8 inches tall). It is also traditionally dusted in icing sugar with an imprint of St. James’ cross. But since I haven’t done the pilgrimage, I didn’t think it would be right to put the sign of the cross on my cake.

I love their delicate nutty flavour, and somehow, this really stands out in my mind as a very Spanish type of dessert. And I probably should not be admitting this, but I ate three-quarters of the 9″ x 13″ sheet all by myself. Shame!

If you do feel like indulging in something very Spanish and very tasty, I highly suggest the Santiago cake. This recipe is from the cookbook “The Family Meal” by Ferran Adria (yes, that Ferran Adria). The only thing I changed was the size of the baking vessel (he suggested a 12″ x 20″; I used a 9″ x 13″). Other than that, who am I to argue with a Spaniard and a world-renowned chef on a recipe? However, try not to follow my footsteps by eating the entire sheet. Oh well, I’d have to do some heavy-duty penance to pay for my sins. Mea culpa. The crux will be on the treadmill!

4.4 from 8 reviews
Santiago Cake
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe from "The Family Meal" cookbook by Ferran Adria. Published by Phaidon Press Limited in 2011.
Recipe Type: Dessert, Cake
Serves: 9" x 13" or 12" x 20" pan
  • 3 extra large eggs, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup (170 g) granulated sugar
  • 2½ cups (250 g) ground almonds
  • 1 pinch ground cinnamon
  • zest of ½ lemon
  • confectioners' sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Grease the bottom and sides on a 9" x 13" (minimum) or 12" x 20" (maximum) rectangular pan with butter. Add the flour and tap it around the pan. Tip out the excess. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.
  2. Break the eggs into a bowl and add the sugar. Using a free-standing mixer with wire attachement or an electric hand whisk, beat until thick and foamy, about 5 minutes.
  3. Mix in the ground almonds (almond meall) and the cinnamon.
  4. Finely grate the lemon zest and stir into the dry ingredients.
  5. Gently add the ground almond mixture to the egg and sugar mixture. Fold in carefully with a spatula to retain as much air as possible. Immediately stop mixing when the batter is smooth. Do not overmix.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. The cake batter should be about ⅝-inch deep.
  7. Bake in the oven for 17 minutes, or until evenly risen, golden, and shrinking away from the sides of the pan. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan.
  8. Remove the cake from the pan by lifting the parchment paper. Cut into portions with a knife or a cookie cutter / mold.
  9. Sprinkle confectioners' sugar over the top using a fine-mesh strainer before serving.



38 Responses to “Santiago Cake”

  1. The Santiago cake sounds incredible, Jen… and your photography is gorgeous, as always! I think I would eat 3/4 of the cake too! Thanks for taking us readers on the journey with you, so enjoyable!!

  2. CCU says:

    What a beautiful slice cake my friend, it looks so addictive :D

    Choc Chip Uru

  3. Valerie says:

    Jen, if you can ever find a few weeks to spare someday, I’d love to go with you on a pilgrimage (probably the first one). :D The recovering Catholic in me will always be fascinated with places and traditions that are steeped in history. And since I haven’t stepped foot in a church in over 12 years, I could use the long walk as a form of penance…of course this lovely cake would be a source of divine inspiration. ;)

    Love the photos, and their gorgeous almost cathedral-like ambiance.

    (Also, I love that you enjoyed three-quarters of it all by yourself. We would so get along!) :D

  4. I just booked my plane ticket to walk the Camino Frances this April! I’ve found once you’ve heard of El Camino, little signs pop up everywhere – like in my blog roll :) I had no idea about the Santiago cake – as a food blogger, this feels like the most appropriate way to end a pilgrimage. Looking forward to trying it both at home and in Santiago!

  5. I want to go back to Spain and visit Santiago and San Sebastian too! And I bet I would be tempted to eat 3/4 of the cake too ;)

  6. Tessa says:

    Nice work! Lovely photos and a gorgeous cake!

  7. I always forget that Canada as a year long maternity leave – so nice! Oh, to pick up and just go again. It gets easier when they are a little older, but you still have school schedules and sports to deal with.
    This cake looks amazing!

  8. Vijitha says:

    Such a simple recipe. I am LOVING it. Easy recipes like these help me plan a party well. I adore the second picture .

  9. Beautiful cake, Jen! The pilgrimage sounds incredible!

  10. mjskit says:

    What a beautiful little cake! I can’t believe it doesn’t have any flour! I guess the ground almonds in that larger quantity replaces any need for flour. I will have this make. It’s just irresistible!

  11. Patty says:

    Beautiful Cake! Hope to make it back to Spain one year and I really love your idea of making a pilgrimage, you will have to organize one for all of us ;-)

  12. What a delicious looking recipe. I’ve never tried anything like it. I will have to change that.

  13. Suzanne says:

    Nice cake and I had to laugh when you said you ate 3/4 of the pan :). Your idea of loosing weight sounds like a fun idea walking for 2 weeks while seeing all those lovely places. You seem to eat so healthy so I’m sure the weight will come off just be patient with yourself.

  14. Laura says:

    Love this. I love flat little snacking cakes that are dusted with powdered sugar. Give me that over layered and frosted any day!

  15. I just read Erin’s comment – Canada has 1 year maternity leave? Wow… might as well just get another maternity leave? Just kidding. Heheheh. I dream about traveling too, but I know it’s really hard to do in reality – with school schedule, not having parents around, and it seems I’m stuck. Unlike you I didn’t travel much when I was younger and that’s my only regret. I went home whenever I had a break from school or job and now I wished I traveled more. Your cake looks simple and I bet the taste is amazing!!

  16. I love simple and scrumptious cakes like this recipe. I love the maternity leaves you get in other countries. US has to change that. Stat :D

  17. sippitysup says:

    I think you should strap the baby to your back and go anyway. Think of all the extra calories burned… GREG

  18. Gorgeous photos, Jen! I love the simple luxury of this cake. It looks moist, rich, and flavors but an easy one to make. And love the dusting of confectioners’ sugar. Perfect on cakes like this! Don’t be hard on yourself with the baby weight. Once they start crawling, you never sit down. It will fall right off :)

  19. Brenna says:

    I read about the pilgrimage and have Spanish friends that have done it. I would love to visit Biarritz and this cake looks amazing! Best of luck going back to work :)

  20. WOW – this cake looks simply supreme! I want to make this now – just don’t have almond flour, but will get some soon. Lovely photos. PS – I know you will loose those last few pounds super fast. :-)

  21. I think I will be dreaming of this cake! It looks so moist and delicious, just beautiful!

  22. Raymund says:

    Looks awesomely addictive!

  23. You have made this look delightful. I am sure if you walked for several days straight, you would lose all the baby fat. It’s a better way than depriving oneself of foods like this cake.

  24. What a lovely cake! And I always love your stories – you are such a beautiful writer!

  25. I love your beautiful photography and the writing. I love almond in anything – would love to give this a try. Glad to have stopped by x

  26. I will join you in walk…long walk and we don’t have to worry about divorcing!:) Our hubby’s can watch the kids since we both have three LOL! That cake is what I need now in these after midnight hours! Very tempting pictures, I want few right now before bed!
    Have a lovely Tuesday!

  27. Heather says:

    What a simple yet beautiful cake – I need to get in on that action…..your cake was my bread this past weekend, somehow I managed to eat half the freshly baked loave throughout the course of the day – yikes!

  28. Killian says:

    What a gorgeous looking cake!

    One note, though – in the direction, you say to “mix in the ground almonds and the cinnamon”. This comes right after the eggs and sugar are mixed, so it implies that the almonds and cinnamon are mixed into that. You might want to note somehow that the almonds and cinnamon are mixed together in a separate bowl.


  29. Theresa says:

    My partner and I will be making the pilgrimage (Camino Frances) next October or November and will look for these tasty little cakes. Thank you for the post and for the recipe. Quite a delightful thing to see first thing this morning. :)

    • Theresa says:

      I forgot to mention that anyone interested int making the pilgrimage should watch the movie called “THE WAY”, starring Martin Sheen. A beautiful and touching movie. :)

  30. I was just reminiscing about San Sebastian (and my trip to that area) on my latest post. I enjoyed the food there a lot and I bet I’d feel the same about this cake. Looks great, Jen.

  31. Jan says:

    My first visit to your blog and sooooo excited to see La Torta de Santiago. I had the most incredible experience walking from Villafranca to Santiago last month (2 weeks) It was beautiful and the people on the trail and along the trail were some of the nicest I have ever met. Hard trip but mid afternoon we’d find a cafe — so many of them served this cake. I am thrilled to find this recipe. Baking ( and eating it) will bring back so many memories. If you ever can walk The Way– I highly recommend it!!!

  32. Ann Thomas says:

    tomorrow is St James Day, and so to celebrate it I have searched the website to find a Santiago tart that I can make. I am delighted to have found you.

    I am baking it and taking it to the beach tomorrow where I have told any one who has had contact with the Camino de Compostello to come and share it with me on the rocks at the far end of Robberg Beach Plettenberg Bay. South Africa. Of course to get to the rocks at the far end they will have to walk some distance. We will eat it and drink some sherry.

    We salute you and your website and all those who have walked the Camino, all those who are on the Camino at present, and all those who wish to walk the Camino. Buon Camino!!!!

  33. Laurie Bryan Larson says:

    Having completed The Camino last month, I look forward to trying this recipe. I encourage anyone who feels called to walk The Camino to do it. Its been one of the most life changing experiences of my life!!!

  34. Tina says:

    On holiday, without my recipe books, I used your recipe for Tarta de Santiago for a dinner party – what a disaster it was a rock cake!
    The problem is the mistake of saying two and a half cups is equal to 500g of ground almonds. I realised when you said ‘pour’ the mixture into the baking tray and it was more like a crumble mix. UK cooks use grams and not cups which are based on volume and obviously differ depending on ingredients. Now home – Culinaria Spain – suggests 2 cups of ground almonds, 250g. Please check your recipes before sending them viral.

  35. Erin says:

    Hi! I would love to try this! For the ground almonds, did you just put a bunch of almonds in a food processor and chop to the consistency of wet sand? What consistency should the almonds be?

    • Jen says:

      Hi Erin, I buy my almonds pre-ground. But you can grind them yourself as well. Careful though, do not over grind them as they may start becoming clumpy / greasy. Only grind until just so – don’t let it go wet.

Leave a Reply

Rate this recipe: