Food Friday: Santiago Almond Cake





This cake is a specialty of Santiago de Compostela in Spain.  The area is famous for the pilgrimage to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.  Santiago translates to English as James and the story is that St. James’s remains were carried by boat from Jerusalem to northern Spain where he was buried on the site of what is now the city of Santiago de Compostela.  There are several routes you can take to Compostela and they were heavily traveled in the Middle Ages.  Today people travel from all over the world to walk the route and it has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Sword of St James
Sword of St James




This is a flourless almond cake named after St James.  It is usually topped with the symbol of the sword of St James.  Although crosses are also appropriate.














Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

4 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 ¼ cups finely ground almonds














Separate 4 eggs into 2 large bowls.

Beat yolks, gradually incorporating ¾ cup sugar.














Fold in 2 ¼ cups finely ground almonds.














Whisk egg whites until foamy

Gradually beat in ¼ cup sugar and continue to beat until stiff

Stir 1/3 of egg whites into almond mixture, then carfully fold in remaining egg whites in 2 batches.














Pour batter into buttered 9-inch cake pan and bake until done – about 30-35 minutes

Allow to cool

Dust with powdered sugar.














Enjoy!  Yum!




  1. My grandmother was French Basque and her village (Baigorry) is very close to St. Jean Pied du Port where one of the routes of the Camino begins. This recipe seems reminiscent of Le Gateau Basque which is a specialty of the area. Other than the cross on top, do you know if it is the basic recipe for that Basque cake?

    1. Hi there. From what I can tell the Gateau Basque has several variations but they all have a cream filling. So, no, don’t think they are the same thing. i did find one variation that is made with almond flour, however.

      1. The Gateau basque that I’ve had in the past had an almond filling – but it wasn’t creamy, just a little bit soft. I’ll try your recipe and see if it’s similar to what I’ve had in the Basque land.

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