Almond cake: flourless yet light

Claudia Roden’s new The Food of Spain weighs several pounds.  Tucked way back on page 549, I discovered a flourless almond cake recipe (“tarta di Santiago”) that captured my attention.  Roden sampled the cake in Galicia, where it appears in the windows of pastry shops and bakeries, decorated with the cross of St. James.  While I’ll probably never travel the pilgrim’s trail to the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela to view the relics of St. James, I have found my newest favorite almond cake.  (I love almond cakes…Dorie Greenspan’s yogurt almond cake has been my long-time favorite, but it’s now slipped to #2.)

The cake contains no flour and no added fat other than what is provided by eggs and ground almonds.  Eaten warm, it is light and fluffy.  After a day or two, it mellows, becoming denser and more moist.  It makes an excellent breakfast cake or afternoon treat.

Tarta di Santiago (adapted from p 549 in Roden’s The Food of Spain)

  • 1/2 pound blanched whole or slivered almonds
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 1 1/4 cups superfine sugar
  • grated zest of 1 lemon (or a few drops lemon oil)
  • grated zest of 1 orange
  • 4 drops almond extract
  • Confectioner’s sugar, if desired
Preheat oven to 350.  Grease and flour an 11-inch springform pan (line bottom with parchment if desired.)  In a food processor, finely grind almonds.  With a stand mixer, whip egg whites to stiff peaks.  Transfer whipped egg whites to a large mixing bowl.  In the stand mixer bowl, beat egg yolks and sugar for several minutes, until the mixture is light in color and texture.  Add zest and/or lemon oil and almond extract.  Stir in the ground almonds, mixing well (will be very thick).  Fold the almond-egg mixture into the egg whites until no streaks of white remain.  Pour mixture into the prepared springform pan, smoothing the top.  Bake for 40 minutes; cake should feel firm to the touch.  Cool in the springform pan before unmolding.  Yields 10-12 slices.

4 thoughts on “Almond cake: flourless yet light

  1. Thanks for this post ; I will send the recipe to my brother and his daughter since both of them are gluten intolerant and this is a dessert they might like to make.

    • Sure, a finely ground almond flour should work just fine. If you can only get the coarse kind, try whizzing it a bit in the food processor before using it.

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