Torta de Santiago; Traditional Almond Cake Along The Way.

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Main square in front of the cathedral

 

In the northern tip of Spain is an area called Galicia. This area  is the home to cathedral Santiago de Compostela. Perhaps you know of it. Maybe have walked one of the many routes of  the Camino de Santiago, or The Way. Thousands of pilgrims that walk the many different routes end up at Santiago de Compostela and the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela and the tomb of St. James. As you walk along the route you are guided via the clamshell markers showing you the way. Travelers and pilgrims carry a booklet and at every stop on the route is marked as stamp in your booklet.

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all the stamps along The Way

The cathedral is very impressive and the faithful flock here to see the tomb of St. James. We just so happen to visit the cathedral while it was undergoing a major renovation. We were a little disappointed not to be able to get a great shot of the façade without some kind of scaffolding in the way.

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The cathedral under construction

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The alter surrounded by clamshells

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pilgrims coming into the square and a shady place to rest

 

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one tired pilgrim

 

The square facing the city Plaza de Obradorio is a great people watching spot. Pilgrims coming off the trail pass by the plaza on their way to the cathedral. Dusty, thirsty and very tired looking,  it a great resting spot, especially as the sun sets behind the Palacio de Raxoi. The streets surrounding the square are filled with all kinds of shops selling all sorts of Knick-knacks from your trip to the area. Most of the wares are related to the Camino.

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Walking sticks

 

 

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Some of the statues to commemorate your trip

Of course restaurants off all kinds surround the square to serve the weary with a beer, wine, sodas, and of course food. But the one iconic food of this area is the Tarta de Santiago. The cake is rather simple with few ingredients, almonds, organic and lemon zest, sugar and eggs. Simple in ingredients but full of flavor. You can find this cake all over the area.

It’s taken me almost 3 years to make this simple cake. So I scoured the internet for an authentic recipe that would live up to the bakeries in Santiago de Compostela. I  used marcona almonds from Spain. They do differ from the almonds we can get the store. They are flatter and have a buttery richness not unlike macadamia nuts.

I guess you could say that after 4 months we are still COVID 19 baking. I’m not seeing so much sourdough anymore now that farmers markets are open and it 100 degrees. If you could make this cake on a grill instead of inside you win a prize. So in the early hours before the sun has a chance to heat up the house I made my first Spanish Almond Cake.  According to Claudia Roden this cake is an adaptation of a Passover cake brought to the region from the Jews fleeing Andalusia in the 12 and 13 century. The  EU gave this tart protected geographical indication. So in layman’s terms this cake in order to be called authentic it must be made in the Autonomous Community of Galicia and must contain at least 33% almonds.

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More pilgrims

TORTA de SANTIAGO:

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Very simple ingredients

 

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Whisked egg yokes and sugar
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Egg whites folded into the ground nuts and eggs

 

 

 

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This is adapted from Claudia Roden Food of Spain, Poires Au Chocolate and Food52. I used toasted Marcona almonds from Spain. That’s is what I had on hand.

Ingredients:

  • 125 grams (1 cup) blanched whole almonds
  • 3 large eggs
  • 125 grams (1/2 cup + 2 tbsp) granulated sugar
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
  • Zest of 1 lemon (or 1/2 a lemon and 1/2 an orange)
  • Icing sugar, to dust125 grams (1 cup) blanched whole almond

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter a 7-inch tin then dust with flour until fully coated. Tap out any excess flour.
  2. Blitz the almonds until they’re finely ground, though not super fine, as you want a bit of texture.
  3. Separate the eggs and place the yolks in a bowl with the sugar and salt. Whisk until they are pale, thick and glossy.
  4. Stir in the zest, followed by the almonds, to make a thick paste.
  5. Whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl to soft peaks. Add a big spoonful of the whites to the yolk paste and fold through to loosen it.
  6. Scrape the loosened yolk paste into the side of the bowl of whites. Carefully fold the two together until they are well combined with no lumps.
  7. Transfer the mixture to the prepared tin. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. The cake should be set, golden brown and a toothpick should come cleanly out of the center.
  8. Cool on a wire rack. Remove from the tin then place the cross template in the middle of the cake. Dust with icing sugar then carefully remove the template.

If you find your travels taking you through the Galicia area of Spain make sure you find time to sample the Torta de Santiago. If you don’t want to walk The Way you can simply make the cake at home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter a 7-inch tin then dust with flour until fully coated. Tap out any excess flour.
  2. Blitz the almonds until they’re finely ground, though not super fine, as you want a bit of texture.
  3. Separate the eggs and place the yolks in a bowl with the sugar and salt. Whisk until they are pale, thick and glossy.
  4. Stir in the zest, followed by the almonds, to make a thick paste.
  5. Whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl to soft peaks. Add a big spoonful of the whites to the yolk paste and fold through to loosen it.
  6. Scrape the loosened yolk paste into the side of the bowl of whites. Carefully fold the two together until they are well combined with no lumps.
  7. Transfer the mixture to the prepared tin. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. The cake should be set, golden brown and a toothpick should come cleanly out of the center.
  8. Cool on a wire rack. Remove from the tin then place the cross template in the middle of the cake. Dust with icing sugar then carefully remove the template.

 

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