Tarta de Santiago (Spanish Almond Cake)

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Tarta de Santiago is a Spanish Almond Cake originally from the Galicia region and has its name from the famous Santiago de Compostela city. This is an easy cake that can be achieved in less than 40 minutes.

I’ve been to Santiago de Compostela multiple times — last time I think it was in 2019 before the pandemic— and one of my mandatory stops is at molletes, one of my favorite Galician bakeries. As part of my little tradition, I order one slice of tarta de Santiago with cafe con leche. It’s absolutely amazing, 

A proper tarta de Santiago is moist, fragrant, and nutty. Also the size it’s quite important. This traditional tart doesn’t need to be too thick, so for this recipe, I used a 28 cm (11 inches) circular baking pan that gives me this perfect thickness that allows getting an almost crunchy and caramelized outside and a moist inside. 

This recipe needs just a few ingredients for the batter: ground almonds, sugar, cinnamon, eggs, and orange zest. In the traditional recipe, they use exclusively orange zest but I personally prefer the lemon zest because it gives me extra fragrance. 

Also, another thing that I love about this cake I how easy it’s to make. I kid you not when I say it takes me less than 40 minutes to make it. And maybe an hour if I let it completely chill before serving. 

The batter is so simple that you won’t need any fancy mixer or kitchen robots. 

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How to decorate a tarta de Santiago? 

The most recognizable part of this almond cake is the little design made with powdered sugar on top of the cake. 

Traditionally in Spain the place a “Cruz de Santiago” used to be the symbol of “Las Cruzadas” on top of the cake because this dessert was heavily tied to Christianity. Actually, this is a cake that is made specially during July and the first week of August because the 25 of July is the day of Saint James (San Santiago in Spanish). 

Here is the printable design so you can get the traditional look from home.

Can you scale this recipe? 

This recipe is one of the easiest to adapt to bigger or smaller sizes. The ratio of sugar-ground almonds is always 1:1. Always the same weight. That’s why it’s essential to use grams and not cups because they have different volumes. And then, it’s one extra egg for 100 grams of extra sugar-almond mixture. 

Can you substitute the ground almond with almond flour? 

Sadly no. As much as I love to give you clever substitutions I must say that you lose the texture completely if you substitute the ground almonds with almond flour.

Almond flour is processed to remove most of the natural oils of the almond to get that “flour” texture. Ground almonds, on the other hand, have a more rustic texture, this is the key to a moist Tarta de Santiago. 

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Tarta de Santiago (Spanish Almond Cake)
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Tarta de Santiago is a Spanish Almond Cake originally from the Galicia region and has its name from the famous Santiago de Compostela city.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Spanish
Keyword: spanish almond tart, tarta de santiago
Servings: 8 pieces
  • 250 gr Ground Almonds
  • 250 gr Sugar
  • 5 Eggs
  • 1 lemon zest (you can also use orange)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 tsp butter (to grease the pan)
  • Powdered sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF)
  2. Mix the ground almond with the sugar, cinnamon, and salt.
  3. Add the eggs, one by one until you get a thick batter.
  4. Add the lemon zest and give a last stir.
  5. Grease the baking pan with the butter and pour the batter.
  6. Take the pan to the oven for 30 minutes.
  7. Let the cake fully chill and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Optionally you can put a Cruz de Santiago on top so you get the iconic shape in the middle of the cake.

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