Why not make an almond cake to go with your coffee? I got to know this Spanish almond cake in Galicia, on my way to Santiago de Compostela, a very long time ago. This cake does not contain flour, and is therefore also suitable for people with a gluten allergy. However, this is not recommended for people with an (almond nut) allergy. Although Galicia is not known for growing almonds, it is already a regional specialty since the Middle Ages. We will dig into the details of that further down in the article.
How to make a Spanish almond cake?
Is it a cake or is it a pie? To make it a pie you need to use a pie crust, like for example shortcrust pastry or puff pastry. But I prefer to omit this in this case and only have the cake filling for a pure almond sensation. This way it is also a gluten free recipe, as we are using no flour.
Start by melting the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. On a low heat, because we just want to melt the butter. It should certainly not overheat or boil.
Then we add the icing sugar and the packet of vanilla sugar. You can also use granulated sugar, but powdered sugar has the advantage that it dissolves almost immediately in the butter. This is faster and easier.
Now it's time to separate the whites and yolks of the eggs. We put the white aside to beat later. We then mix the egg yolks with the butter-sugar mixture.
Now in a mixing bowl we mix the dry ingredients. These are the cornstarch, the almond powder and a teaspoon of baking soda.
Then we add the butter mixture to it and mix the dough base well. Then comes the brandy, which gives an extra taste to this Spanish almond cake.
Now it's time to beat the egg whites with the mixer until completely stiff. Then we carefully fold this under the dough. This creates an airy dough.
Finally, we mix most of the flaked almonds into the dough. However, we keep another 50 grams aside to use later for finishing.
Baking the Spanish almond cake
Now that we have prepared the dough, we can start thinking about baking. To do this, we turn on the oven and let it preheat to 175°C. Meanwhile, we grease a cake tin (28 cm) with butter.
Once the mold has been greased, we can pour the dough into it. Make sure it spreads evenly over the mold. And now finally it's time for the remaining almond flakes. We are going to sprinkle them over the cake so that we will have real roasted almond flakes as a finishing touch.
Now the cake can go in the oven at 175°C for 40 to 45 minutes. In the meantime you can clean up a bit and enjoy a cup of coffee. Remove the cake from the oven after 45 minutes and check with a knitting needle or a skewer whether it is fully cooked inside. To do this, pierce the center of the cake. If there is no dough sticking to the needle or skewer when you take it out, the cake is ready.
And removing it from the mold
Then allow the cake to cool down a bit. Now it is time for the most tricky part: removing the cake from the mold in good order. On the one hand, the cake must be well cooled down, because then it will gain in firmness. If the cake is still too warm, it risks falling apart. On the other hand, it should not be completely cooled down either. Then the butter from greasing will harden again. And then the cake “sticks” in the mold.
Lukewarm you have to remove the Spanish almond cake from the mold. And careful. First loosen the cake from the mold all around with a knife. Then start to gently loosen the bottom of the cake from the mold with a cake server. Once it is completely detached, you can move the cake on a platter.
About Spanish almond cake
Of course a Spanish cake also has a Spanish name: tarta de almendras. But as I said, I got to know this almond cake in Galicia, during a hike to Santiago de Compostela. It is very famous in that region and the regional specialty is known as “Tarta de Santiago”.
And that is remarkable. Because Galicia is actually not known as a region for growing almonds. And yet this almond cake was already made in Galicia in the Middle Ages. We find the first description of it in 1577 AD. How is that possible? Well, even then, pilgrims already went to Santiago de Compostela. Probably these pelgrims either took the almonds with them to reward themselves with something tasty. Or traders brought the almonds to Galicia, after which the pilgrims rewarded themselves with a nice piece of cake from their region of origin.
You can't call every almond cake a “Tarta de Santiago” either. It is a registered trademark that must meet certain criteria:
- It should not be made with flour (gluten free).
- The almonds should make up at least 33% of the weight, and be regional
- Sugar should also be at least 33%.
- And eggs should be at least 25% by weight.
- The traditional Santiago cross in icing sugar should not be missing on the cake.
- You can flavor the cake with brandy or liqueur, for example.
Since 2010, the Spanish almond cake from Galicia has had the PGI status of the European Union (protected geographical indication) as “Tarta de Santiago”. So be careful with the name “Tarta de Santiago”.
Learn more about Spanish almond cake and a “Tarta de Santiago” in the following articles:
- Tarta de Santiago: a Spanish dessert with middle age origins. (Soccarat).
- Tarta de Santiago - Wikipedia.
Just like all the other Mediterranean countries also Spain has a delicious cuisine. Easy and surprising. Find some more inspiring Spanish recipes:
- Easy potato chorizo stew.
- Creamy peach gazpacho with almonds.
- Mahonnaise - the origin of mayonnaise.
- Summer watermelon gazpacho.
If you speak Dutch, you can find the Dutch version of this recipe on gerechtenweb.blog.
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