Happy Feast Day of St. James the Greater, peanut butter lovers!
Since walking the Camino de Santiago last year, this feast is particularly meaningful to me and gives me an opportunity to look back and reflect on how impactful that pilgrimage really was. Upon its completion last June, I wouldn’t have been able to predict how much the lessons learned that crazy spring would impact me over the year to come–but they did. And my affection for the pilgrimage experience seems to grow stronger with each passing month. One of my buddies from the journey (Andrew, a crazy Australian filmmaker who shares my love of philosophy and questionable sense of humour) has recently released the first installment of his web documentary series, Beyond the Way. Its worth a watch and I am embedding it below just to whet your appetite.
In honour of the feast day, I invited my friend Sam over to help me make a Tarta de Santiago. This cake is nutty and citrus-y and all around delicious. The name literally means cake of St. James, and the recipe has dates back to the Middle Ages. It can be found all around Galicia, especially in the famous city of Santiago. It is usually marked with the shape of the cross of the Order of Santiago.
I found my recipe on this site and it worked wonderfully. Other versions call for sweet wine or brandy but this one is alcohol-free and still tastes great.
- 1 3/4 cups blanched and ground almonds
- 6 large eggs, separated
- 1 1/4 cups superfine sugar
- Grated zest of 1 orange
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
- 4 drops almond extract
- Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
With an electric mixer (or a really strong arm), beat the egg yolks with the sugar into a smooth pale cream. Beat in the citrus zests and the almond extract. Then add the ground almonds and mix very well.
With clean beaters, beat the egg whites in a large bowl until stiff peaks form. Then fold them into the egg and almond mixture (this will take a while as the batter is dense).
Grease an 10-inch springform pan, preferably nonstick, with butter and dust it with flour. Pour in the cake batter, and bake at 350°F for 40 minutes, or until the cake feels firm to the touch. Let cool before releasing the springform.
Just before serving, dust the top of the cake with confectioners’ sugar. Or, if you like, cut a St. James cross out of paper. Place it in the middle of the cake and dust with confectioners’ sugar, then remove the cross template.