This Spanish Almond Cake, also known as Tarta de Santiago, is a tribute to the memories of a brief, but wonderful trip to Barcelona, Spain. The cake is delicious, moist, tastes of almonds and lemon, and the best part for some people - gluten-free.
Memories are often the best part of a trip. Months or years after the trip, you remember the first time you landed in the country, the anticipation you felt as you traveled from the airport to your hotel. Or the conversation you had with a resident. The art you gazed at in amazement, and the park you enjoyed on a sunny afternoon. Then there's the dish you tasted that still causes your mouth to water.
In preparing for the trip to Spain I heavily anticipated the tapas, the stews, and the paella, but little was written about the pastries in Spain. And even though our trip was cut short by the pandemic, I discovered a pastry shop that I visited multiple times during our short stay. And learned that almond flour is used in a lot of desserts.
I knew I wanted to create some of these desserts for myself and for my readers. Being able to recreate desserts from your travels is one of the best parts of being a baker. It was easy enough to find a recipe for this Spanish Almond Cake, the hard part was deciding which recipe to use.
The Ingredients for Spanish Almond Cake
The beautiful thing about this cake is that the main ingredients are added in equal amounts
- Almond Flour - Almond flour provides structure, flavor and fat which helps keep the cake moist
- Granulated Sugar - Sugar adds moisture
- Egg Yolks - The yolks add flavor, fat and helps bind everything together
- Egg Whites - Egg whites provide structure to the cake and whipped egg whites provide lift for the cake.
To these main ingredients you add:
- Lemon Zest - The lemon zest provides a nice hint of acid to counterbalance the sweetness of the cake.
- Salt - Provides emphasizes the other flavors and also provides a counterbalance to the sweetness
That's it. But the combinations of these simple ingredients make an incredibly moist and tender cake. I've never made a cake with just almond flour before and when I first made it, I was hoping that it would taste good, but this homemade cake exceeded my expectations. The topping of sliced almonds and turbinado sugar adds a nice crunch to this deliciously moist cake.
I researched how to make this cake. There were, of course, different versions. Some recipes had equal amounts of almond flour, sugar, and eggs; some didn't. Other recipes separated the eggs and others mixed in whole eggs. After reading about the cake I decided to use equal amounts of the main ingredients since that seemed to be the traditional method. I whipped the egg whites to give the cake some lift, since there is no baking soda.
How to Make Spanish Almond Cake
This cake is amazingly simple to make. Equal amounts, by weight, of sugar, almond flour and eggs are used to make this cake. The best way to make the cake is to weigh the ingredients, especially the almond flour to ensure you are getting the right amounts.
The recipe starts with separating the eggs into two small bowls. Place the sugar in a large bowl and grate the lemon zest directly onto the sugar. Use your fingers to work the zest into the sugar. This method ensures that you are getting the most flavor possible out of the lemon. If you read or tried my recipes for Lemon Bundt Cake or Olive Oil Cake, you know that this is my recommended method for add lemon zest to a cake or baked good.
To the sugar add the egg yolks and whisk until the sugar is mostly dissolved. Then add the almond flour to the sugar-egg mixture and use a spatula to mix it in. In a clean bowl beat the egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks form. The reason you want to mix on medium speed is that the egg whites will provide lift for the cake. Mixing on medium speed causes the air bubbles to slowly develop and therefore they will be more stable. When you stir the egg whites into the almond mixture, there will less deflation.
When no egg white streaks are left, scrap the batter in the prepared cake pan. Top it with the turbinado sugar and sliced almonds, and bake for 35-40 minutes. Use a cake tester to test to check for doneness. It is okay if a few cake crumbs cling to the cake tester.
Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Invert the cake onto a parchment-lined cake rack, then invert onto a cake plate. Allow it to completely cool to room temperature before slicing. When you finally cut into the cake you will find a moist, dense crumb that tastes like almond with a hint of lemon.
This cake tastes great with fresh fruit and whipped cream. Or by itself with a nice cup of tea or coffee.
Please make this recipe and if you like it, tell your friends about it. If you make it, let me know and if you're on Instagram post a picture and tag me @bakesbybrownsugar.
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If you're looking for more gluten-free recipes check out Kat at The Loopy Whisk. Her recipes are delicious.
More Easy Cake Recipes
Check out these other delicious and easy to make cake recipes on my blog:
Substitute in your favorite citrus for both of these cakes.
Spanish Almond Cake
- 1 1/4 cups (250 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest 2 medium lemons
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 5 (250 grams) large eggs separated, room temperature
- 2 1/4 cups (250 grams) Bob’s Red Mill almond flour
- 1/2 cup (48 grams) sliced almonds, toasted
- 3 tablespoons (37 grams) turbinado sugar
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9-inch cake pan and line it with parchment paper. Measure and weigh all the ingredients before starting this recipe.
- Place the sugar in a large mixing bowl. Zest the lemons directly into the sugar and use your fingers to rub the zest into the sugar. To the sugar mixture, add the egg yolks, salt, and vanilla extract and whisk vigorously until the sugar is dissolved, about 30-45 seconds. Add the almond flour and use a spatula to incorporate into the wet ingredients. The batter will be stiff.
- In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks form, about 4 minutes. Use a spatula to incorporate the whipped egg whites into the almond batter. The batter will be stiff, incorporate the egg whites by folding the batter from the bottom of the bowl until the egg whites are fully mixed in and no white streaks remain.
- Scrape the batter into the pan into the pan. Use an offset spatula to smooth and even out the batter. Sprinkle the sliced almonds and the turbinado sugar over the cake batter.
- Place the cake in the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes until the center of the cake is done. Use a cake skewer to taste for doneness. It is okay if a few crumbs cling to the skewer.
- Remove the cake from the oven and use a cake spatula to loosen the cake from the sides of the pan and allow it to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Invert the cake onto a cooling rack and then invert it onto a cake plate.
- Allow the cake to completely cool. Serve it with whipped cream or fresh fruit or both.