Blog Recipes/ Cakes and Cupcakes/ Desserts and Sweets

Tarta de Santiago {Spanish Almond Cake}

The Tarta de Santiago, a naturally gluten-free Spanish almond cake, is a very traditional Spanish dessert originating from the town of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia.ย 

The Tarta de Santiago (Saint James Cake) is a classic Spanish dessert. This gluten free almond cake recipe is simple to follow and makes a delightful dessert or tea cake. *

Making this cake was a request from my daddy. He grew up in Spain, where this cake is very common and he requested I bake him this memory. I was very curious to try it as a friend of mine from the flamenco studio where I took lessons in California had also recently completed a portion of the Camino de Santiago and this cake is one she would have seen in countless bakery windows along the way. Besides, almond and citrus just make such a beautiful flavor combination, so the dessert is not just a beautiful way to bring a little Spanish sweetness to your table, it’s also incredibly delicious! The Tarta de Santiago (Saint James Cake) is a classic Spanish dessert. This gluten free almond cake recipe is simple to follow and makes a delightful dessert or tea cake. *

The Tarta de Santiago isย so classically Spanish in fact, that it was granted a Protected Geographical Indication in 2006. This means that the government set out regulations as to the recipe and location of origin from which a St. James Cake could originate in commerce to be marked as “authentic.” In its purest form, the cake is an almost even ratio of almonds, eggs, and sugar. It doesn’t always need to have the cross of Saint James decoration on top, in fact, it wasn’t added until 1924, but it has become an almost universally added decoration, so I always include it. I make my stencil by printing an outline of the cross of Saint James, cutting it out, and placing it on the cake before dusting on my powdered sugar.

The Tarta de Santiago (Saint James Cake) is a classic Spanish dessert. This gluten free almond cake recipe is simple to follow and makes a delightful dessert or tea cake. *

For a lighter texture, I whip the egg whites. Many Tarta de Santiago recipes nowadays do include steps for whipping the whites to create a lighter cake, although it’s believed the “original” recipe just mixed the eggs whole and was very dense. I also add fresh orange zest and a bit of flavoring, which is optional, but I find that it really makes the cake special. In lieu of orange zest you may also try lemon or even grapefruit, and feel free to substitute a vanilla bean for the vanilla extract. These are absolutely modifications from the classic recipe, but the overall ratios for an authentic Tarta de Santiago are there.

The Tarta de Santiago (Saint James Cake) is a classic Spanish dessert. This gluten free almond cake recipe is simple to follow and makes a delightful dessert or tea cake. *

I hope you enjoy this beautiful Spanish cake. It’s a lovely gluten free dessert that’s most often served during July for the Feast of Saint James, but is equally appropriate any other time of the year as a dessert or tea cake. Buen provecho, darlings!

The Tarta de Santiago (Saint James Cake) is a classic Spanish dessert. This gluten free almond cake recipe is simple to follow and makes a delightful dessert or tea cake. *

Tarta de Santiago {Spanish Almond Cake}
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
55 mins
Servings: 12 servings
Author: Goodie Godmother
  • 2 1/3 cups almond meal 228 g
  • 6 eggs separated
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 2 tablespoons amaretto liquor or 1 tsp almond extract and 1 tbsp fresh orange juice
  • 1 cup brown sugar 213 g, packed
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • powdered sugar for decorating
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F. Butter and line a 9" springform pan with parchment paper, set aside.
  2. Beat the egg yolk and sugar together in a mixing bowl, by hand. Stir in almond meal, extracts, and zest.
  3. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites to stiff peaks.
  4. Fold the whites into the yolk mixture. Stir in about 1/4 cup first to lighten the yolk mixture, then fold in the rest of the whites.
  5. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 40 minutes. Cool in pan on a wire rack, then decorate before serving.


The Tarta de Santiago (Saint James Cake) is a classic Spanish dessert. This gluten free almond cake recipe is simple to follow and makes a delightful dessert or tea cake. *


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  • Reply
    December 31, 2017 at 1:41 am

    Can this be made in a 9×13 instead of a spring form to feed more people? My son has to make a dish for his Spanish class. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply
      Mary (The Goodie Godmother)
      January 9, 2018 at 10:37 am

      I’m so sorry for the late reply! I probably would not make this in a larger pan… you probably won’t get quite as good a rise out of the cake and the bake time would be much shorter because it would be thinner. BUT, you can always take a round cake and instead of cutting in wedges, follow the “catering cuts” and cut the cake into a grid. With that method, he should be able to get enough square or rectangular pieces for the class so everyone can try the cake. If you have already tried baking in the 9×13 pan though, I’d love to know your results!

  • Reply
    August 31, 2017 at 2:10 pm

    I have offered to make a friend’s wedding cake. Although I have never made a wedding cake I am an experienced baker. She is gluten-free. I have several questions:

    1.There will be 60-70 people so I was going to do a tiered cake. Will this stand up to tiering (no pedestals)?
    2. What size cakes would you suggest for that number of people and how would I adjust baking times?
    3. Any advice?


    • Reply
      Mary (The Goodie Godmother)
      August 31, 2017 at 7:55 pm

      Hi Connie!

      1. This cake isn’t a good option for a traditional wedding cake. It’s not designed to be frosted, nor will it work well as a layer cake. Your best option would be to test out something like my gluten free vanilla cupcakes, or take something like my almond cake from scratch and substitute a 1-to-1 gluten free flour for the all-purpose flour in the recipe.

      2. Wilton has an excellent guide for figuring out how much cake you should make depending on wedding party size: . Be sure to provide this chart to the caterers so they know how many slices to cut from each cake. For weddings, I usually err on the side of caution and assume the final number of servings will be somewhere between the “party”-size slices and “wedding” slices. They are not large slices, and it’s better to have extra cake than not enough.

      3. With such a large cake, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to work ahead. You can always freeze cake layers in advance so you aren’t baking so many at once. Since you haven’t made a wedding cake before, it might be worth practicing and making one in advance so you can tier the cake and work out any kinks. As with any large tiered cake, be sure to build in appropriate supports for each layer using bubble tea straws or cake dowels. Another excellent option to keep in mind is that you don’t necessarily have to build a cake large enough to feed everyone. If you’re most comfortable with a smaller 2 or 3 tier cake, you can make that, and then supplement with extra smaller cakes for the caterers to cut and serve. This is common practice, and can help save your sanity since a 60-70 person cake is quite large.

      I hope this helps! Best of luck and congratulations to your friend!

  • Reply
    July 3, 2017 at 5:19 pm

    I finally made this for Easter this year and am just now getting around to telling you! It was amazing. I can’t wait to make it again!

  • Reply
    Denise Coccioloni-Amatto
    December 12, 2016 at 9:10 pm

    I have made this cake before and it is always a hit! I was hoping to make it ahead of time and serve it on Christmas Eve for supper. Is it possible to freeze this and will it freeze well? I was just wondering because of the eggs. Thanks!

    • Reply
      Mary (The Goodie Godmother)
      December 12, 2016 at 10:15 pm

      I haven’t tried freezing it yet, but I believe it should freeze just fine since you’re freezing the baked cake, and every baked cake I’ve frozen has worked well. Just be sure to double wrap to prevent freezer burn or flavors from sneaking in. Thaw in the refrigerator to avoid condensation from forming inside the wrapping, then unwrap and bring to room temperature to serve, dusting with the powdered sugar just before serving if desired. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    November 25, 2016 at 7:38 pm

    This may seem like a silly question, but are you greasing the pan and then adding the parchment or greasing the parchment paper and then putting it in the pan?
    Thanks for clarifying.

  • Reply
    Brian Jones
    July 1, 2016 at 4:13 pm

    What a great sounding recipe, I love almond anything but as I am not usually a baker I tend to use them in savoury dishes… I’ll have to give this ago, or more accurately I will forward this to my wife to make for me ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Reply
    Meaghan | Cook. Craft. Love.
    June 30, 2016 at 11:36 am

    I’m not an almond flavored anything fan but since I trust that everything you put on your blog is delicious I’m giving this one a go next time I’m in charge of a pot luck dessert!

  • Reply
    June 29, 2016 at 9:39 am

    I love it when you post cake recipes.

  • Reply
    June 14, 2016 at 10:20 am

    Hey Marie, my hubby is gluten intolerant so I have to bake without flour and have used almond flour before. It is delicious. I really appreciate you posting this recipe which I have not seen before. I never heard of this Spanish delight. Thank you for sharing.

    • Reply
      Mary (The Goodie Godmother)
      June 14, 2016 at 1:52 pm

      Almond flour is definitely one of my go-to flours for gluten free baking. I like that it adds a little extra protein and healthy fats too. ๐Ÿ™‚

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