Tarta de Santiago is a traditional Spanish cake which originated in Galicia and that carries the name of the main city in the county but also the name of Spain’s patron saint Santiago (Saint James). First documentation on the production of this dinosaur of Spanish baking dates back to 1577. It was described in those days as torta real (royal torte). I can imagine that the royal element comes from the use of ground almonds, which would have been an expensive ingredient and limited to only upper class society. It was during the 20th century when the Tarta de Santiago was introduced more progressively into Spanish culinary documents and books, classifying it as a traditional Galician bakery product. However, it was a restauranteur called Jose Mora Soto, founder of Casa Moracuando, who, around 1924, began to decorate his almond cake with the cross of Santiago. The union of this traditional Galician product with the city’s most recognisable symbol became so popular across the county that it quickly became the standard when presenting the cake and therefore shaping the identity of this classic Spanish bake. The basis of the Tarta de Santiago recipe is ground almonds, sugar and eggs, however, there are two standard recipe versions for this tart. The most widely known recipe is the simple version where the ground almonds, sugar and egg mixture is baked in a mould. The other version is made with a short crust or puff pastry base. I find the simple version very easy to make and incredibly tasty when cooked properly. It can be served as a dessert, for breakfast or as part of a cake selection for afternoon tea. In this recipe, I have paired the tarta with a dollop of clotted cream and freshly grated orange zest. I like how the creamy texture of the clotted cream combines with the fluffy almond sponge and the orange zest provides a fresh fruity flavour.
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