Saturday, 25 July 2020

Torta de Santiago - An Easter Almond Cake

Torta de Santiago (cake of St. James) is named for Saint James, patron saint of Spain.  He was apparently a cousin of Jesus, who was beheaded by King Herod in Jerusalem.  His remains were then taken to Galicia, where he was buried in Santiago de Compostela.  Remember the Camino?  The walk of pilgrims, which can start in either France or Spain.  A couple of friends have done the Camino, and my cousin was going to do it this year, before Covid struck down her plans.  She's not a happy chappie that overseas travel is a thing of the past, at least for now.

Well, we can make this cake at least.  It's a delicious and very easy cake to bake, with simple flavours.  I think it may even be keto, if that's your fancy.  Beat up some eggs, add the almond meal and you're pretty much done.  I was surprised at how tasty and moist this cake ended up.  I gave some to our 90-year old neighbour (who loved it), and Mr P. has had his fair share.  It's a winner!  BTW, it's the Feast of St. James today, so maybe you'd better make this cake, my friends.  The stencilled sword of St. James on top is not essential, but it looks good.  (Sorry, my sword got stuck under the icing sugar, so it flicked it around and messed up my pointy bits.)   



the sword is slightly dusty but never mind :-)


Recipe from Willunga Almonds: Stories + Recipes by Helen Bennetts

Serves 8:



ingredients:

250g. (scant 9 oz) almond meal 

zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon

5 large eggs

220g. (scant 8 oz) caster sugar

4-5 drops almond extract

1 paper stencil of the sword of St. James - optional :-)

icing sugar for dusting the top



Method:


Turn your oven to 180C/350F

Grab a 22 cm./9 in cake tin, grease the base and sides, then tip some cornflour or plain flour all around the tin

Tip out the excess flour, and line the base with baking paper

Stir the zest into the almond meal

Into a medium mixing bowl go the eggs and the sugar; beat with electric beaters for 5-8 minutes:  you want it to go thick and pale and airy

Add the almond extract, then gently fold the almond meal into the egg mixture - don't go crazy here; just till it's nicely combined

Pour the batter into the cake tin and bake for 40 minutes, or till a skewer comes out clean

Let the cake (still in the tin) rest on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then gently tip it out and place back on the wire rack till completely cold

Now take the stencil that you have carefully cut out, place it in the middle of the cake and dust liberally with icing sugar

This will keep in an air-tight container for several days


Notes:


Freshly-ground almond meal is best, but don't stress if you use store-bought.  I used a mix of both (and I shoved some hazelnut meal in too).  I like to use almonds with the skin-on, but I don't think it's an issue really:-)

Just to be clear, when I say 'scant' in a measurement, I mean it's just a bit under.  For instance, 220 grams is actually 7.76 ounces, but that's plain silly, so I suggest being a bit mean with your 8 ounces rather than actually weighing out 7.76 ounces:-) 

It may take 10 minutes to get the eggs and sugar to the proper consistency; mine did!  The mixture tripled in size, which is perfect for a good result



prepare your 22 cm. tin

zest your fruit

start beating the eggs and sugar


and it starts to turn into this


fold the almond meal into the whipped-up egg and sugar mixture


ready for the oven


after baking, cool on the rack completely


place the paper stencil on top of the cake and dust liberally with icing sugar


look at that cute sword :-)


crumbly, nutty and a bit citrus-y = delish!


cut out your paper stencil of  St. James's sword

Mr P. printed out a copy of the sword from the Net for me, and I veeeerrrryy carefully cut it out.  I felt like I was five years old again!



nutty/eggy artwork © Sherry's Pickings


42 comments:

  1. That's a fantastic nutty torta! The story behind it is cruel but the cake absolutely irresistible.

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  2. Such a great looking dish! Looks really good. I was lucky enough to visit Santiago de Compostela a few years ago. On a cruise -- not a walk! Although that sounds like a lot of fun. Our biggest surprise was listening to bagpipes. Had no idea that was a thing there.

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    1. bagpipes? how interesting. i do love me a bagpipe:)

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  3. I've always admired people who did the Camino - it is looooong! The cake looks delicious, I love the citrus flavor.
    Amalia
    xo

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  4. What an informative post. Loving everything about it, especially the historical info about Camino. Pretty cake, lucky neightbors :-)

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  5. Sounds delicious - I like the look of the stencil on top of your cake but maybe not the story behind i - history is history!

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    1. hi judi
      yep amazing stories behind lots of foods.

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  6. What a cool cake, Sherry...with a fun story behind it, too. I've always wanted to visit Spain, but clearly that's not happening any time soon. (I share your friend's feeling about covid!) So I just looked up the pilgrimage route. Sounds awesome, but it's 500 (!!) miles - or 780 km for you. That's a lot of walking!

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    1. yep that is one hell of a lot of walking but you can do stages from France or Spain so just bits of it.

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  7. My girlfriend and neighbor did the walk 6 years ago . I will share this wonderful recipe with her. Thank you Sherry.

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    1. how wonderful gerlinde! i would love to walk it if i were younger and fitter...

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  8. It's moist and not dry at all. I can't have just one piece. I can eat them all! Love!

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    1. hi dennis
      yes it is moist and nutty. we ate it all up!

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  9. Spain has a patron saint? And he has his own cake? I wish the U.S. had a patron saint. But maybe not, because if we did, it would probably somehow manage to be Trump. Trump probably thinks he is also a cousin of Jesus. If only he could have a meet-up with King Herod in Jerusalem...

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    1. Mmm if only the US had a saint who would swiftly rid the world of a certain Trump fiend.

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  10. Sherry, I can make this today. I have some really good almond meal I need to use up. It will be perfect with a cup of tea!

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  11. First time I heard of this, looks delicious, feels like a large macaron. Now I can use my leftover almond meal from making macarons

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  12. This looks spectacular and I love that's it's gluten free and has such a simple list of ingredients. I love the sword, I think you nailed it! (Ha, see what I did there?!)

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    1. yes sammie it is easy and quite delish! i think the sword is essential:)

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  13. Great cake and gluten free as well. I've pinned it as it will definitely be on the menu soon.

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    1. that's great Liz. yes i must add the gluten-free label to this.

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  14. I'm copying this one. It looks delish and you could use it with any stencil. Adding the almond flour to my shopping list!

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    1. thanks so much Jeanie. yes great idea to use any stencil you fancy. i do recommend blitzing your own almond meal if possible:-)

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  15. Well done especially with the motif on top! And yes this is best way to travel overseas for the time being :)

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    1. thanks lorraine. yep travel could be a long way off ...

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  16. I can relate to your post Sherry, we've walked part of the Camino and got quite caught up in the story when we were in Spain.This cake looks delicious, what a great idea to bake it.Im so pleased we travelled overseas when we did, but at least we can travel with food now.

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    1. hi pauline
      how exciting to have walked the Camino. who knows when we can travel again? might be some time to come ...

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  17. Thanks Sherry for explaining the history on this cake, it very interesting how it got its name. Besides, we love all the ingredients in this cake, and look forward to making it.

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  18. Torta de Santiago is one of my favorite cakes, introduced to me by a blogger from Sydney - John, from He Needs Food. It is the best, although I have never cut out the stencil - I really must do that!

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    1. ooh i must look up that blogger. yes it's a fab cake isn't it? stencils are fun. all that careful cutting ...

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  19. So interesting to read the history behind the cake. Just a heads up that it is time for ISW again - the post is here: https://tandysinclair.com/international-scone-week-2020/

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  20. I love anything with almond meal and this looks perfect for Sunday afternoon tea, Sherry!

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    1. yes it would be great for arvo tea katerina. so easy and so delish.

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