This is a splendid cake, taken from our book of the week, The Food of Spain by Claudia Roden.

“I have eaten almond cakes in other parts of Spain, but this one is special. Pilgrims and tourists who visit the great Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, where the relics of the apostle Saint James are believed to be buried, see the cake in the windows of every pastry shop and restaurant. It is usually marked with the shape of the cross of the Order of Santiago. I have watched the cake being made in many sizes, big and small, thin and thick, over a pastry tart base at a bakery called Capri in Pontevedra. This deliciously moist and fragrant homey version is without a base. There is sometimes a little cinnamon added, but I find that masks the delicate flavor of orange and almonds and prefer it without it.”

“When I suggested to a man associated with the tourist office in Galicia that the tarta was a Jewish Passover cake, I was dragged to a television studio to tell it to all. The hosts thought the idea made sense. The Galician city of Coruna is on the Jewish tourist route, because of its synagogue and old Jewish quarter. Jews from Andalusia, who fled from the Berber Almohads’ attempts to convert them in the 12th and 13th centuries, came to Galicia, where they planted grapevines and made wine.”

The cake is normally made in a wide cake or tart pan and so it comes out low, but it is equally good as a thicker cake. It is very similar to one we make at Wickedfood Cooking school in our Spanish cooking class in a 22cm spring form baking tin.

700g blanched whole almonds
6 large eggs, separated
1 1/4 cups superfine sugar
Grated zest of 1 orange
Grated zest of 1 lemon
4 drops almond extract
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

  1. Finely grind the almonds in a food processor.
  2. With an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks with the sugar to a smooth, pale cream. Beat in the zests and almond extract. Add the ground almonds, and mix very well.
  3. order generic cialis onlineign: left;”>With clean beaters, beat the egg whites in a large bowl until stiff peaks form. Fold them into the egg and almond mixture (the mixture is thick, so you will need to turn it over quite a bit into the egg whites).
  4. Grease an 28cm springform pan, preferably nonstick, with butter, and dust it with flour. Pour in the cake batter, and bake in a preheated 180°C oven for 40 minutes or until it feels firm to the touch. Let cool before turning out.
  5. Just before serving, dust the top of the cake with confectioners’ sugar. Or, if you like, 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.

• Add 1 teaspoon cinnamon to the egg yolk and almond mixture.
• Majorca has a similar almond cake called gato d’ametla, which is flavored with the grated zest of 1 lemon, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and sometimes a few drops of vanilla extract.
• In Navarre, the cake is covered with apricot jam.

Serves 10

Other Wickedfood Cooking School Spanish recipes:

Wickedfood Cooking School runs cooking classes throughout the year at its purpose-built Johannesburg cooking studio. Cookery classes are run in the mornings and evenings 7 days a week (subject to a minimum of 12 people). The venue is also popular for corporate events and private functions – teambuilding cooking classes, birthdays, kitchen teas, and dinner parties with a difference. Our cooking lessons are hands-on, where every person gets to participate in the preparation of the dishes. They are also a lot of fun where you not only learn new skills, but get to meet people with similar interests. For corporate groups and team building cooking classes these events are a novel way of creating staff interaction or entertaining clients.