Classic French Madeleines

Tarta de Santiago, or “St. James’ Cake,” is a traditional Spanish almond cake with roots dating back to the Middle Ages.

 

Since Medieval times, millions of pilgrims have made their way to the small town of Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain. At the end of their journey, a special almond cake bearing the cross of Santiago or “St. James” awaits them. Fortunately, you don’t need to complete the nearly 500-mile pilgrimage to enjoy this simple yet delicious almond cake at home.

St. James cake is the perfect dessert for spring.  Enjoy it on its own or served with seasonal fruit.  But don’t just take our word for it – give the recipe a try and tell us what you think!

INGREDIENTS (serves 8)

1 lb (2 ½ cups) whole blanched almonds, lightly roasted or 2 ½ cups almond meal

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, sifted

1  sticks (11 tablespoons) of unsalted butter, softened

1 ¾ cups caster (superfine) sugar

5 eggs, room temperature

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest, finely chopped

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

 

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Lightly grease a 9 ½ inch cake pan.  If using whole almonds, finely grind them in a food processor.

2. Using electric beaters, cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl until thick and pale.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Fold in the flour, ground almonds (or almond meal) and lemon zest.  Stir until the ingredients are combined.

3. Pour the batter into the greased cake pan and bake for forty minutes, or until it feels firm to the touch.  Cool for 5 minutes.  Transfer to a wire cooling rack and brush the top of the cake with lemon juice.

4. Dust with confectioners’ sugar.  For a traditional Spanish decoration, sprinkle the sugar over a stencil of the cross of St. James, cut out of paper.  Or, to add some seasonal flair, dust the sugar over spring shape stencils.

Dreaming of traveling to Spain?  Check out our selection of Guided Vacations and River Cruises.

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