Tarta de Santiago
This recipe is for a medieval cake created in Galicia, Spain. It is the region’s most typical dessert recalling the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostella where St. James is buried. I acquired a taste for it from my many years traveling to Spain on behalf of the Galician wine producers of Albariño.
4 large eggs at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 ¼ cups almond flour (or finely ground whole, unsalted almonds)
Preheat oven to 375°F
Butter a 9-inch cake pan. Cut a round of parchment paper to fit into the bottom of the pan.
Separate into two large bowls the yolks and whites of four eggs.
Beat the egg yolks with an electric hand mixer, gradually incorporating ¾ cups granulated sugar until mixture is airy and light yellow in color. (The remaining sugar will be used later.)
Gradually fold in the finely ground almonds with a spatula. Mixture will be stiff at this point.
In a standing mixer (or using a hand mixer) beat the egg whites until foamy. Gradually add 1/4 cup sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.
Using the spatula, stir in 1/3 of the egg whites into the almond/egg mixture. Add remaining egg whites in two batches, gently folding each one in.
Pour into cake pan and level off top.
Bake for approximately 35-40 minutes. Insert a toothpick. When cake is fully baked, the toothpick will come out clean.
Remove cake from the oven and put on a rack to cool for an hour.
Run a knife around the perimeter of the cake pan. Slightly tap the bottom of the pan on a hard surface to make sure the cake is not stuck. Turn out onto a large serving platter. Remove the parchment round. Use whichever side of the cake looks the nicest for decorating.
Place your Santiago de Compostella cross stencil (download from the Internet) on the center of the cake and dust liberally with powdered sugar.
Cake makes 8 generous slices. As this is a slightly dry cake, you can add sliced oranges with candied orange rinds, sorbet, or crème fraîche.
Wine suggestions: A sweet wine from Spain either from Sherry or Malaga. Ask your local wine merchant for a recommendation.