Tarta de Santiago a sweet cake with its own name and a lot of history

Hello beautiful people from the Paulina Cocina community! Today we want to share with you a recipe with a lot of history, which comes from the lands of Galicia, Spain: the Santiago cake . No, it is not your cousin’s cake, nor that of the neighbor’s son, but a cake that bears that name in honor of the city where it originated, Santiago de Compostela.

This delicacy, which does not contain flour, is an easy recipe that only needs 4 ingredients and is enjoyed as a dessert or as a sweet cake to eat at tea time, with a coffee with milk, or with some delicious mates if you are in Argentina.

In this note we tell you what this sweet cake with its own name is about, we give you some information about its ancient history, something about the origin of its name and, as always, a recipe to prepare it at home.

Table of Contents

About the Santiago cake

Santiago cake is a typical dessert from the Galicia region, in northwest Spain. This traditional cake is made with almonds, sugar, eggs and lemon zest, and is famous for having a moist, spongy, soft and delicious texture.

Another interesting fact about this recipe, in addition to its history, is that it is prepared without wheat flour, making it suitable for people with celiac disease . The usual thing is to bake it in a round mold, and decorate it with icing (or powdered) sugar. As a detail it usually has a design of the Cross of Santiago , which is a religious symbol of the region.

It is believed that this cake, of medieval origin, originated in the Monastery of San Pelayo de Antealtares, in Santiago de Compostela, and that it was made for pilgrims who arrived in the city after completing the Camino de Santiago.

Where does the name of Santiago cake come from?

The name of the Santiago cake is associated with the Camino de Santiago , a pilgrimage route that attracts thousands of visitors each year. This route runs through various cities and towns in Spain and France, with the aim of reaching the city of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, where the tomb of the Apostle Santiago is located.

According to legend, the cake originated in the 16th century , when a pilgrim who had finished the Camino de Santiago arrived in the city of Santiago de Compostela and the friars of the Franciscan order offered him this cake. Since then, the cake has become an undisputed symbol of the region and has become popular throughout Spain.

Is there an inventor of the Santiago cake recipe?

Although it is not known with certainty who invented the recipe for the Santiago cake , it is believed that it was originally called “royal cake” and there are records of this recipe in the year 1577, when it was served for the first time to arriving pilgrims. to Santiago de Compostela.

Some time later, between 1835 and 1838, some notes about the recipe appeared in the confectionery notebook of a confectioner from the region, named Luis Bartolomé de Leybar, but, instead of almond cake or royal cake, it bore the name “biscuit of almonds” . That notebook is still preserved in the Xeral Library of the University of Santiago

A certified original recipe

In 2006, the Santiago cake was registered as having a “Protected Geographical Indication” (PGI) , a certification granted by the European Union that protects and guarantees the quality and authenticity of food products, with specific characteristics related to its geographical origin and its elaboration.

The PGI “Tart of Santiago” establishes the characteristics and requirements necessary for a cake to be considered authentic and original from Santiago de Compostela . Some of these requirements are: the use of ground almonds, egg, sugar and lemon, and the absence of ingredients such as flour, yeast or cinnamon.

What ingredients does the original Santiago cake recipe contain?

The original recipe for Santiago cake is very simple and has remained practically unchanged for centuries. As we said above, it’s as simple as: ground almonds , sugar, eggs, and lemon zest . The proportion of almonds and sugar is balanced, which gives the cake its characteristic sweet and aromatic flavor. In addition, the lemon zest gives it a touch of freshness and perfume.

6 tips to achieve the best Santiago cake

Some tips so that the Santiago cake turns out perfect:

  1. First of all, it is important to use good quality almonds and grind them at home, to obtain a smooth and creamy texture.
  2. Respect the proportions of almonds and sugar, and add lemon zest to give it a touch of freshness.
  3. Mix the ingredients well to obtain a homogeneous dough and prevent it from sinking during cooking. Remember that it does not contain any leavening agent.
  4. Bake the cake at a low temperature so that it is soft and moist.
  5. Let the cake cool before removing it from the mold.
  6. To preserve it for several days, store it in an airtight container at room temperature.

Original recipe for Santiago cake

  • Yield: 8 servings
  • Preparation time : 1 hour


  • 250 g ground almonds
  • 250g sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • butter to spread the mold

How to make Santiago cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. In a bowl, mix the ground almonds with the sugar.
  2. Add the eggs and lemon zest, and mix well until you obtain a homogeneous dough.
  3. Grease a 22 cm diameter circular mold with butter. Pour the mixture into the mold and smooth the surface with a spatula.
  4. Bake for about 30-35 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the cake is firm to the touch.
  5. Let cool before unmolding and sprinkle with icing sugar before serving.

Leave a Comment