This Spanish Almond Cake is a simple and refreshing gluten-free cake known throughout Spain as Tarta de Santiago. It’s made with just a handful of ingredients and there are only a few steps to having this easy dessert on your table.
Spanish Almond Cake, also known as Tarta de Santiago, is a dessert popular in Northern Spain. It is commonly offered to those walking the Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage across Spain to Santiago de Compostela, where the remains are St. James are buried.
Traditionally, each Spanish Almond Cake is topped with a cross, meant to honour Saint James. You can find a stencil online to place upon the cake before sprinkling the powdered sugar on top if you choose to serve it this traditional way.
This recipe was inspired by both the almond cake recipe inspired by the almond cake served on Amawaterways cruise lines. The base of this cake is almond flour, keeping it gluten-free, and the flavour comes from not only the almond but lemon zest and honey. I also added in a pinch of cinnamon.
Other traditional flavourings of sweet wine or Sherry, brandy, or grape marc are used , depending on the recipe used. There are also versions where a shortbread or puff pastry are used for the base of the cake.
This cake is fairly dense so I don’t feel the need for a base to be included in this almond cake recipe.
This cake is very simple to make but has a light nutty flavour with a hint of honey and lemon.
For a little crunch, I like to toast some almonds and then use them to top the cake before I sprinkle the top with powdered sugar.
And to make this cake even more delicious a serving of Greek yogurt and berries is fantastic! Or if you aren’t a yogurt fan whipped cream work well too!
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Almond flour– The base of this gluten-free almond cake! Make sure to use almond flour and not its coarser cousin almond meal.
- Baking Powder – Helps with the rise of the cake.
- Baking Soda – Another leavening agent to help the cake rise.
- Sea Salt – Salt is a flavour enhancer used to perk up the other flavours in the cake. In this case the lemon and honey.
- Ground Cinnamon – Just a sprinkle of added flavour to bring some earthiness to the cake!
- Eggs – The glue that holds the cake together.
- Honey – Used to add sweetness and flavour to the cake balancing the earthy almond flavours and lightening up the bitterness from the lemon. Maple syrup is a great vegan alternative.
- Grapeseed Oil – Used instead of butter giving the almond cake some added moisture. You can also use a light flavoured extra virgin olive oil.
- Grated lemon zest – Adding zest to a cake using lemon juice helps to intensify the lemon flavour without the need to add more liquid. Approximately 2 medium lemons will do for this recipe.
- Lemon juice – Brightens up many recipes with some zesty flavour and gives the glaze a little zing!
- Slivered almonds – Adds great texture and crunch to the final product. And looks pretty!
- Powdered sugar – Also known as icing or confectioners sugar – adds extra sweetness with a soft velvety texture.
- Greek Yogurt – Totally optional in this recipe but pairs well with this almond flour lemon cake with some berries. Whipped cream works well too.
- Mixed berries – I recommend a mix of blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries.
How To Make Spanish Almond Cake
To make this simple almond cake, preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and dust a 9″ springform pan with almond flour.
Combine the almond flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and add in the oil, honey, and lemon zest. Whisk well to blend.
Pour the egg mixture into the dry almond flour mixture and mix to combine, until there are no lumps.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the centre of the cake.
During this time, brown the slivered almonds in a pan on medium heat. Don’t be like me and get on Instagram and loose track of time our you will over brown the almonds … see the above. Golden brown is goal.
To prepare the almond cake glaze, mix together a tablespoon of honey and lemon juice.
After the cake has finished baking, let it cool for 30 minutes.
Use a basting brush to gently dab the glaze over the top of the cake. When it soaks in it gives the cake an amazing flavour and added moisture.
Add the almonds on top of the glaze and press very gently so they stick to the moistened top.
Once the cake has completely cooled, dust it with powdered sugar. Feel free to download the stencil for the Cross of St. James. Once you have cut the stencil our place the cut-out cross on the centre of the cake and dust the top of the cake with the powdered sugar. Then remove the paper cross and you are all set!
Serve with yogurts and berries on the side or spread the yogurt as icing and top with berries and additional powdered sugar.
How to Store Spanish Almond Cake
Store in a tightly sealed container or covered cake plate for up to 5 days. This cake freezes very well when tightly wrapped for up to 3 months. Make sure to freeze the gluten-free almond cake before dusting it with the icing sugar.
Thaw on the counter overnight and serve when ready with the fresh yogurt and berries.
Is Almond Cake Gluten-Free?
Yes! Spanish Almond Cake is naturally gluten-free, as it is made with almond flour and without any additional wheat flours.
Check Out These Other Easy Cake Recipes:
Spanish Almond Cake with Berries
- Large Mixing Bowl
- Medium Mixing Bowl
- Measuring Cups
- Measuring Spoons
- Small Bowl
- Basting Brush
- 9" springform pan
- Cooking Rack
- Small sieve
- 2 cups Almond meal firmly packed
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 4 eggs
- 2/3 cup honey or maple syrup
- 1/4 cup grapeseed oil or extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp grated lemon zest
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1/3 cup slivered almonds
- 2 tbsp powdered sugar
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 1/2 cup mixed berries
- Preheat oven to 325F. Grease a 9" spring form pan and dust with the tsp of almond flour.
- In a large bowl combine the almond flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Mix well.
- In a medium bowl whisk the eggs until the yolks and egg whites are combined. Add the oil, honey and lemon zest and whisk well to blend. Pour into the almond flour mixture and mix to combine and to remove any lumps.
- Pour into the prepared springform pan and bake for 30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the centre….
- While the cake is cooking place the slivered almond in a pan and brown slightly on medium heat.
- In a small bowl mix together the tablespoon of honey and lemon juice.
- When cake is baked remove from the oven and let rest on a cooling rack in it's pan for 30 minutes to cool. While cooling use a basting brush to gently dab the entire top of the cake with the glaze.
- Then add the almonds to the top of the cake once glazed and very gently press down so the almonds stick to the honey mixture. They will still be a little loose.
- When the cake is completely cooled. Dust with the powdered sugar.
- Serve with the yogurt and berries on the side or spread the yogurt over the centre of the cake and top with the berries before serving. Dust with more icing sugar if you like.