The cake of St James

We think everyone should have an easy Tarta de Santiago recipe to make at home! The Tarta de Santiago is a traditional Spanish almond cake found along the Camino de Santiago.  It is a must-try along your journey to Santiago de Compostela.
It is thought to date back as far as medieval times as it was documented in 1577 that a cake made of almonds was consumed by Pedro de Porto Carrero, Bishop of Calahorra, when visiting Santiago de Compostela.   A confirmed recipe of Tarta de Santiago was recorded in the 19th Century in the state of Galicia where this cake originates. The gluten free cake became known to wider Spain in the 20th century due to its popularity on the famous pilgrimage.  
Along your walk, you will find this cake is decorated with powdered sugar, outlining an imprint of the cross of St. James on top.  This decoration did not start until 1924 when Jose Mora Soto, founder of a popular restaurant in Santiago, began topping his cake with the silhouette of the cross. Others soon followed his design, creating the prominent marking of the Tarta de Santiago.
The European Union has even given this cake a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO). This means only a cake made in the region of Galicia, as well as being made with 33% almonds, can be called Tarta de Santiago.

Tarta de Santiago Recipe

Here is a simple recipe of Tarta de Santiago. Following a long hard walk, we sometimes like to pour some sweet Orujo Creama on top! Enjoy…


  • 1/2 pound (1 3/4 cups) whole  blanched almonds
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 1 1/4 cups  sugar
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 4 drops almond extract
  • Confectioners’ sugar for dusting


Finely grind the almonds in a food processor. With an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks with the sugar to a smooth cream. Beat in the zests and almond extract. Add the ground almonds and mix well. Beat the egg whites in a large bowl until stiff peaks form. Fold them into the egg and almond mixture.

Grease an 11-inch springform pan with butter and dust it with flour. Pour in the cake batter, and bake in a preheated 350°F for 40 minutes, or until it feels firm to the touch. Let cool before taking out.

Cut a St. James cross out of paper. Place it in the middle of the cake, and dust the cake with confectioners’ sugar, then remove the paper.


La Tarta de Santiago. Horno San Onofre. (2014). Retrieved May 26, 2016, from
Tarta de Santiago. (n.d.). Retrieved May 26, 2016, from