Home » Cake Recipes » Spanish Almond Cake

Spanish Almond Cake

If you’re a dessert lover, then you will love this Spanish Almond Cake recipe which is nutty, moist and super easy to make at home. Completely flourless by nature, this cake is ideal when you need a gluten free cake that everyone will enjoy!

Spanish almond cake on a wooden board with a slice cut and slightly pulled out.
A delicious variation of the traditional Tarta de Santiago!

Spanish Almond Cake is a version of the traditional Tarta de Santiago, a much loved cake of Santiago de Compostela, capital of the Spanish region of Galicia. Cake in Spanish is Tarta and Santiago is Spanish for St James.

You may have heard of the Camino de Santiago which is a pilgrim journey that leads to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. It’s said that this Cathedral is home to the remains of the Apostle St James. 

The original Tarta de Santiago honors St James with his cross silhouetted on the top in powdered sugar. My Spanish Almond Cake is a twist on those delicious flavors of the original version which I enjoyed for breakfast during my visit to Spain a few years ago.

Why you’ll love this recipe

  • You need just 6 ingredients and three are optional!
  • This cake is naturally gluten free.
  • It’s so moist and delicate with a fantastic nutty almond flavor.
  • This cake recipe is super quick and simple to make.
  • This cake is ideal for dessert, a snack or just like I did in Spain – for breakfast!
  • Perfectly tasty served as is but jazz it up with a fruit sauce like strawberry coulis or a dollop of mascarpone cream.

For complete ingredient quantities and full instructions, please scroll to the printable recipe card at the bottom of the page.


Ingredients for this almond cake as in the recipe card.
  • Superfine white sugar – this sugar has fine crystals which dissolve easily. It’s also known as castor sugar. Granulated sugar will work too!
  • Lemon zest – the oils in the zest have the most fragrant lemon flavor. I’m lucky enough to use lemons from my backyard tree but whatever lemons you use be sure to wash them well. You can leave the lemon zest out but the flavor is sublime!
  • Eggs – buy fresh eggs for this recipe. I like free range but use what you normally like.
  • Ground almonds – for convenience pre ground almonds. Don’t use almond flour – it’s too fine for this recipe.
  • Cinnamon – you’ll need just a small amount of ground cinnamon. Remember to keep spices fresh and replace regularly. This can be omitted if you don’t like it. I do, so I add it in.
  • Brandy – totally optional but a lovely addition. This isn’t traditional or required in the authentic recipe so you can leave it out and still love this cake. If you’re worried about the alcohol content, keep in mind that most of the alcohol evaporates during baking.

See the printable recipe card for quantities.


Four step process showing how to make tarta de santiago.

Before you begin preheat the oven to 300ºF/150ºC. Toast the ground almonds then remove and set aside to cool.

Increase the temperature to 350ºF/180ºC and butter a 9 inch/23 cm springform pan then line the base with parchment paper.

  1. Rub the lemon zest into the sugar with your fingers and set aside.
  2. Beat the eggs and the sugar with an electric mixer until the mixture it becomes pale and thick and is well combined. 
  3. Mix in the cooled almond meal, ground cinnamon and brandy.
  4. Pour the thick batter into the prepared springform pan. 

Bake for 30-35 minutes. Cool completely before unmolding and dust with powdered sugar.

Hint: Use beaters to beat the eggs and sugar. Avoid using the whisk attachment because it will whisk in too much air and then the cake with collapse after baking. This is not like my pan di spagna which needs a lot of air incorporated.


  • Lemon zest – a few drops of lemon oil is a good substitute.
  • Lemon zest – substitute orange zest!
  • Ground almonds – if you can’t find pre ground almonds, grind your own. Buy whole almonds, remove the skins or not then grind in batches in a food processor. 
  • Brandy – this is optional. Leave it out completely or substitute with two teaspoons of vanilla extract or a few drops of almond extract.


An electric hand mixer will make beating the sugar and eggs easy! It can be done by hand with a whisk. If you choose to hand whisk, be careful not to over whisk.


Spanish Almond Cake keeps well in an airtight container for three days. Leftovers can also be frozen in slices just wrap the slices well in plastic wrap. Freezing can dry the cake out but it will still be delicious!

Tips for Success and FAQ’s

Slice of almond cake on a white plate with whole cake in the background.

Because this Spanish Almond Cake has so few ingredients be sure to choose the best quality you can.

If you prefer more texture in the cake, grind your own almonds. A domestic food processor won’t grind them as fine as a commercial processor. Whatever you do, don’t forget to toast the almonds. Toasting brings out all the amazing nutty flavors and really changes the taste of the cake! 

The Spanish Almond Cake shouldn’t be thick. It’s meant to be a thinner cake. Use anything from 9 inch/23cm to 11 inch/28cm cake pan. It will still taste delicious if it’s made in a small cake pan. The version I ate in Spain was quite thin. 

If you choose a large cake pan than specified in the recipe, check the cake 5-10 minutes before the end of the cooking time. Over baking this cake will mean it drys out and won’t be as moist.

What is Tarta de Santiago made of?

Tarta de Santiago is made of almonds, sugar and eggs. The authentic recipe for Tarta de Santiago is a regulated and protected recipe. It must be round, covered with powdered sugar and with the cross of Santiago on top.
The order also states what ingredients it must have, the quality and the percentage.
Like all traditional cakes, there are other versions with lemon or orange zest, spice or alcohol. This is Spanish Almond Cake is a twist of the original version.

Why is it called tarta de santiago?

Literally Tarta de Santiago translates to “Cake of St James”. Cake in Spanish is “tarta” and Santiago meaning St James. The top of this cake traditionally has a silhouette in powdered sugar of the Cross of St James.

What is the difference between ground almonds and almond flour?

Ground almonds are not as finely ground as almond flour which give better texture to this cake. Sometimes ground almonds will use almonds with the skins on but almond flour never uses almonds with skins on. Almond flour is also known as blanched almond flour.

Serving Suggestions

Close up of a slice of yellow cake on a white plate.

While I loved this cake for breakfast in Spain at home I serve it for dessert or part of a dessert buffet. Along with Espresso Brownies  and my popular Italian Rum Cake. They’re both crowd pleasers and definitely turns up at all our family celebrations.
When friends visit for a coffee this Spanish Almond cake is one of my favorites to make because it’s so quick and easy. I’ll often have Jelly cakes and the Cream Horns in the freezer which makes coffee with friends no effort at all!

Made this recipe?
Let me know if you liked it by leaving a ★★★★★ star rating and a review below. Don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter – it’s free!

Spanish almond cake on a wooden board with a slice cut and slightly pulled out.

Spanish Almond Cake Recipe

A flourless almond cake with a hint of lemon and cinnamon, this cake is a twist on the classic Spanish Tarta de Santiago.
5 from 41 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Toasting almonds: 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings:12 people
Author: Marcellina


  • 1 electric mixer hand held or free standing


  • 5 eggs room temperature
  • 1 ¼ cups superfine white sugar 250 grams
  • Finely grated zest of one lemon
  • 3 cups ground almonds 300 grams
  • 2 tablespoons brandy 30 mls (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon


  • Before you begin preheat the oven to 300ºF/150ºC. Spread the ground almonds onto a baking sheet and toast for 8-10 minutes until just beginning to color and smell nutty. Set aside to cool.
  • Increase the temperature to 350ºF/180ºC and butter a 9 inch/23 cm springform pan then line the base with parchment paper.
  • In a small bowl, rub the lemon zest into the sugar with your fingers and set aside.
  • Beat the eggs and the sugar with an electric mixer until the mixture it becomes pale and thick and is well combined (6-8 minutes). Don’t use the whisk attachment
  • Mix in the cooled almond meal, ground cinnamon and brandy.
  • Pour the batter into a buttered and floured cake pan.
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes until the surface is browned and when a skewer is inserted it comes out clean.
  • Cool the cake in the pan.
  • When cooled, unmold and dust thickly with powdered sugar.
Tried this recipe? Give it a star rating and leave a comment below!

Nutritional Estimate Per Serving

Calories: 271kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 68mg | Sodium: 26mg | Potassium: 26mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 22g | Vitamin A: 99IU | Vitamin C: 0.003mg | Calcium: 70mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutritional Disclaimer

Nutritional information is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. For accurate results, it is recommended that the nutritional information be calculated based on the ingredients and brands you use.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating


  1. This cake looks great Marcellina, and of course I would be adding the brandy. We loved Spain as well, and whilst we didn’t travel as far as the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela we did walk along some of the roads of the Camino. We have a friend who has walked it three times, a slightly different way each time. He would love this cake. I must try it. It’s rather like another one that I make, but minus the oranges. Yum, I would love some right now with a coffee.