Tarta de Santiago

The cake of Saint James – a medieval masterpiece that pairs perfectly with a mid-morning cortado coffee.

Its exact origins and specific recipe are long gone in the winds of time, but the celebration of the patron saint of Spain continues, especially on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage and in the Galician capital Santiago de Compostela.

I’m not a huge fan of cakes or even baking them, but this simple gluten-free almond recipe has me hooked. It feels a touch more, grown-up.  I’ve spent a while experimenting and have finally settled on this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 6 eggs
  • 250g ground almonds
  • 250g golden caster sugar
  • ¼ tsp almond extract
  • zest of 1 unwaxed orange
  • zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
  • icing sugar to dust

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 160°C (140°C fan)
  2. Grease and line an 8 or 9-inch springform baking tin.
  3. Separate the egg yolks and whites.
  4. Whisk the yolks with the golden caster sugar until pale and fluffy.
  5. Mix in the almonds, zest and extract.
  6. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
  7. Gently combine the two mixtures and fill your baking tin.
  8. Bake for about 40-45 minutes.
  9. Rest the cake in its tin for about 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

cooling down the tarta de santiago10. When completely cool, dust the top of the cake using icing sugar and a stencil of the cross of Saint James.

youngling dusting the tarta de santiago

Serve with a little crème fraîche if you like. I certainly do.

Christmas Cake

Here’s a classic fruit cake which I reluctantly refer to as a Christmas Cake, as it seems a shame to restrict beautiful food to a particular time of year, religion and belief :o)

Festive Cake?

Albeit an incredibly delicious cake, the joy of this is all in the making for me; the family can all get involved in the various steps of the process and feel equally proud of the results – there’s always going to be plenty to go round, and more than enough to share with friends and family. I was so chuffed at how well received it was this year.

This recipe is lifted from Jamie Oliver’s Christmas Cookbook, his latest (and potentially greatest) book to date. Developed from refinements on classic recipes and innovative twists over nearly two decades, it certainly won’t be gathering any dust on my shelf.

My 5-year-old daughter, Winter, was particularly keen to get involved with this bake and I found myself having to reel her in at times so I had a moment to pause and think before crashing ahead. #SuperKeenBean

Ingredients:

  • 75g dates
  • 75g prunes
  • 100 glace cherries
  • 400g mixed dried fruit
  • 1 apple
  • 100ml stout or porter
  • 1 clementine, zest and juice
  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 200g soft light brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 200ml milk
  • 300g plain flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder

Method:

  1. Find yourself a 20cm square cake tin, grease it with butter and line it with greaseproof paper.
  2. Roughly chop the dried fruit in a food processor and transfer to a mixing bowl.
  3. Grate in the apple, add the stout, clementine juice and zest, and set aside.
  4. Beat together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy and then mix in the eggs one at a time, followed by the milk, a little at a time.
  5. Combine the two mixtures and then sift in the flour, spices, baking powder and cocoa, folding everything together.
  6. Pour the cake mixture into the lined tin and bake for 2 hours at 150°C.
  7. Allow the cake to rest in the tin for 30 minutes before transferring it to a wire rack to cool completely.
  8. You can finish the cake however you like – you may want to just eat it like that – but we chose to coat it in a thin layer of apricot jam followed by marzipan and finally a fairly thin layer of royal icing.

Coating with Jam

Little hands working hard to roll out the royal icing on a sprinkling of icing sugar. rolling out the icing for the Christmas cake

We used a simple Scandinavian (Ikea!) cookie cutter to stick mini sugar pearls to the cake with a dab of water.

decorating the christmas cake

The finished ‘Festive Cake’:

Christmas Cake

Enjoy!

(Note to self – steady on the royal icing).