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 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 meaning 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 orginal version which I loved for breakfast during my visit to Spain a few years ago.
You’re going to want to make this Spanish Almond Cake because:
- 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.
- My Spanish Almond 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 bottom of the page.
Table of Contents
- Superfine white sugar - this sugar has fine crystals which dissolves easily. It’s also known as castor sugar.
- 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 I do adore the flavor it give to the Spanish Almond Cake!
- 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.
- 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 Spanish Almond 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.
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.
- 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.
- Mix in the cooled almond meal, ground cinnamon and brandy.
- 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
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.
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.
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.
Ground almonds are not as finely ground as almond flour which give better texture to this cake. Sometime ground almonds will use almonds with the skins on but almond flour never uses almonds with skins on. Sometimes it's known as blanched almond flour.
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 pleaser 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?
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Spanish Almond Cake Recipe
- 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.
Nutritional Information Per Serving
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.