Did Somebody Say Cake? Tarta de Santiago…

“Hey, you know what I’d really like to do?
Say wha’?
I feel like makin’ a cake
Ooh wah, what kind of cake do you want?
Umm, how about, pineapple upside-down cake?
Maybe a chocolate devil’s food cake
Wah, nothin’ like a chocolate devil’s food cake
Ooh, how about an angel cake?
Umm, some cinnamon?” ~ B-52s, CAKE (from the album Mesopotamia, 1982)
Still one of my all-time favourite B-52s albums and it wasn’t even a full album. Mesopotamia was an EP, filled with fabulosity!
But…I’m not here for music right now. I’m here to share a cake recipe. I won’t get angry if you listen to CAKE while making a cake, though.
As part of my Camino de Santiago obsession, I brought home a bit of the Camino with me with the Tarta de Santiago! It’s a little almond cake available all along the Camino route. The original version has only 3 ingredients and is quite dense and squat. You can find that recipe online. Just search 3 ingredient Camino Cake, or something like that.
Stamps, collected on the Camino Frances, 2019.
I bring a lot of things home from my Caminos…
A Camino ring…with the shell, a symbol of the Camino…
I wanted to share the one CAKE I have made several times. It’s a bastardized version that still tastes a little like the memories I carry of the Camino…
Tarta de Santiago

Complete with the St. James Cross outlined with icing sugar!

With the recipe below, you can add slight flavour flourishes of choice to make delicate changes to the end product. Think orange zest, raspberry puree and something to that end. It’s a good recipe to tailor make your own final cake, according to your own personal taste.

Tarta de Santiago(ish)


  • 2 2/3 Cup Blanched Almonds*
  • 4 Large Eggs
  • 1 1/4 Cup Sugar
  • Unsalted Butter (1 Stick)(or 8 tablespoons)
  • 3/4 Cup Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Cup Water
  • Zest of 1 Lemon
  • Powdered Sugar – for Cross Decorating

*Big Asterik Energy! Blanched Almonds. You can buy them blanched. If you didn’t, you can blanche them yourself. BIG alternative option…I buy almond flour at Costco. No blanching, no food processoring.

How to Make your Cake:

  • Almonds: How to blanche your almonds. Honey, the only Blanche I know is Blanche DuBois and she’s as blanchey blanche blanche as they come. It’s 2022, please don’t blanche your almonds. Either buy them blanched or do what I do. Use almond flour. Google tells me that you get approximately 1 ¼ cups of almond flour using 1 cup blanched almonds. You can do the math and use the appropriate amount of almond flour. Let’s do away with the food processor and make things easier. If you do choose to process your almonds, select FINE and grind them down. Then set it aside.
  • Heat the oven to 350° F and grease an 8 or 9 inch springform pan. Or, if you don’t have springform, use a regular pan like me.
  • In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs and sugar
  • Add butter (softened), flour, baking powder and water. Beat with an electric hand mixer (or with the strength of the two hands the good lawd gave ya) until well combined.
  • Slowly stir in and mix the almonds (at this point let’s just call it almond flour…I hope no one actually went through the business of preparing their own almonds!) Slowly stir in and mix the almond flour.
  • Add the lemon zest and blend in thoroughly. Here’s the part where you can substitute. Change the lemon zest to orange zest or another subtle flavour you would prefer to test-drive.
  • Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 45 minutes (my mother would READ ME FOR FILTH and SLAY ME TO DEATH for using the word ABOUT in a recipe, I promise you that!) My oven runs a little on the cold side, so I keep an eye on it. Use a toothpick to test…insert in centre of the cake and if it comes out clean it’s ready.
  • Let cool (This is important if you want to add the St. James Cross flourish.)
  • Find a St. James Cross cutout online. You MUST make this with something heavier than paper if you want an easy go at it. Cut it out in a thin cardboard if possible. Place the cross in the middle of the cake and use a sifter to sprinkle icing sugar all over the top of the cake and the cutout. Very delicately remove the cutout and you should have the cross outlined in the centre of the cake. (You can also use anything your heart desires as a cutout if this is for an occasion.)

There you have it… something along the lines of a Tarta de Santiago. It’s NOT authentic, but it’s still a very nice cake. Not too sweet… just right.

No cross required. You can cover the top of the cake in almonds instead.
or what have you…
Michael and I, while on our 2019 Camino Frances Camino, with the lovely Angela of Albergue A Reboleira in Fonfría!

If you haven’t read my Camino novel, THE CAMINO CLUB, yet… it’s available wherever books are sold. It’s a young adult novel. If you’ve walked the Camino, this book will take you back to the beauty of that walk. If you haven’t walked the Camino, this book will make you place it onto your bucketlist!

Here’s a few links:

Amazon USA | Amazon Canada | Chicago Review Press | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | Book Depository | BookShop | Indigo-Chapters | IndieBound | Kobo USA | Kobo Canada | Interlude Press/Duet Books | WalMart USA | Target | Blackwell’s (UK) | Booktopia (Aus) | APPLE Books | Goodreads


By Kevin Craig

Author, Poet, Playwright. Author of The Camino Club, Billions of Beautiful Hearts, and Book of Dreams, all from Duet Books, the LGBTQ Young Adult imprint of Chicago Review Press. Other books: Pride Must Be A Place, Half Dead & Fully Broken, Burn Baby Burn Baby, The Reasons, Sebastian's Poet, and Summer on Fire.

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