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Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Santiago Cake... and a decision!

As I was unpacking one of the remaining boxes I found an old "Floyd on Spain" cookery book that I did not even know we owned!  Leafing through I found a few recipes that I have been trying and very delicious they are too.  It has been a pleasant and unexpected find.  On one of the pages near the end of the book I noticed a recipe for Santiago Cake and decided to look up the history of the cake.  The following was taken from Claudia Roden:

Tarta de Santiago—Galicia 

This is a splendid cake. I have eaten almond cakes in other parts of Spain, but this one is special. Pilgrims and tourists who visit the great Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, where the relics of the apostle Saint James are believed to be buried, see the cake in the windows of every pastry shop and restaurant. It is usually marked with the shape of the cross of the Order of Santiago. I have watched the cake being made in many sizes, big and small, thin and thick, over a pastry tart base at a bakery called Capri in Pontevedra. This deliciously moist and fragrant homey version is without a base. There is sometimes a little cinnamon added, but I find that masks the delicate flavor of orange and almonds and prefer it without it. 

When I suggested to a man associated with the tourist office in Galicia that the tarta was a Jewish Passover cake, I was dragged to a television studio to tell it to all. The hosts thought the idea made sense. The Galician city of Coruña is on the Jewish tourist route, because of its synagogue and old Jewish quarter. Jews from Andalusia, who fled from the Berber Almohads' attempts to convert them in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries came to Galicia, where they planted grapevines and made wine. 

Read More http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Almond-Cake-366229#ixzz26AD53bju


From Wikipedia:  Tarta de Santiago, literally meaning cake of St. James, is an almond cake or pie from Galicia with origin in the Middle Ages. The Galician name for cake is Torta whilst it is often referred to Tarta, which is the Spanish word. The filling principally consists of ground almonds, eggs and sugar. The top of the pie is usually decorated with powdered sugar, masked by an imprint of the Cross of Saint James (cruz de Santiago) which gives the pastry its name.


Santiago Cake
A typical presentation with the Cross of the Order of Santiago

The symbol of the Order of Santiago is the cross of Saint James, a red cross terminating in a sword (cross fleury fitchy in heraldry), which recalls their title de la Espada, and a shell (la venera), which they doubtless owe to their connection with the pilgrimage of St. James.

Cross of the Order of Santiago.
  
In the version by Keith Floyd it is made with only lemon zest rather than lemon and orange, but either will work equally well.  It also contains flour and one blog I found said the following:
I have never walked the camino but I have also made the tart -: it was originally a Passover cake ( hence no flour) Jews fleeing the Berber people of north Africa brought it with them -: so I make it for Passover and dust a star of David on top Yum

So - having finally decided, after some deliberation about routes and sitting down to plot my Camino practice walks, that it would be sensible for a number of reasons, to walk to Santiago from Valencia.  More than this though, it has just started to "feel right" and there is an excitement in the fact that I have actually started. In order to celebrate this decision, I decided to bake myself a Santiago cake!  I hear what you say - any excuse - and no I didn't really need one, but it did seem fitting... so here is the Keith Floyd one that I tried out today (with flour) and in response to the post I quoted above and Claudia Roden's theory about it being a Passover Cake - I have included the flourless recipe from Claudia Roden below also!  Take your pick and enjoy!!

Keith Floyd's Cake:


INGREDIENTS
3 large eggs (the better the eggs, the better the cake – really)
225g caster sugar
100g unsalted butter, quite soft
175g self-raising flour
125ml water
225g ground almonds
Grated zest of ½ a lemon
To decorate: icing sugar and a handful of flaked almonds
To serve: a glass of Fino. OK, you don’t have to, but I would and I bet Floydy would too.
METHOD
1. Set the oven to 180°C/Gas mark 4. Line and grease a 20cm cake tin. (I know, lining and greasing is deathly dull but it is important for this cake.)
2. Mix together in a big bowl the eggs, sugar, butter, sifted flour and water. You really have to give it some welly and mix it all well, so use a processor or a whisk.
3. Tip in the ground almonds and grated lemon zest, then mix well but quickly. Overdo it and your almonds will get all oily. Nobody wants that.
4. Put the mixture into the cake tin, level the top and pop it into the oven.
5. Check it at 50 minutes with a skewer (or knitting needle, as I use). It might well need an hour.
My Santiago Cake!
6. When it’s done, take it out of the oven and leave it in the tin for 10 minutes. Then take it out of the tin and leave to cool completely.
7. Dust over your icing sugar and throw on the flaked almonds.
This cake will keep for a fair few days as long as it’s well wrapped up or in an air-tight tin. You could serve it with slices of poached pear or some vanilla ice-cream. Or just that glass of Fino.

Claudia Roden's Version:
Serves 10

blanched almonds 250g
eggs 6, separated
caster sugar 250g
orange grated zest of 1
lemon grated zest of 1
almond extract 4 drops
butter to grease the cake tin
flour to dust the cake tin
icing sugar for dusting the cake
Grind the almonds finely in a food processor. Beat the egg yolks with the sugar to a pale cream with an electric mixer, then beat in the orange and lemon zest and almond extract. Add the ground almonds and mix very well.

With a cleaned mixer, whisk egg whites until stiff and fold into egg and almond mixture – the mixture is so thick you need to turn it over quite a bit into the egg whites. Grease a spring-form cake tin around 28cm in diameter (preferably non-stick) with butter and dust with flour, then pour in the mixture.

Grind the almonds finely in a food processor. Beat the egg yolks with the sugar to a pale cream with an electric mixer, then beat in the orange and lemon zest and almond extract. Add the ground almonds and mix very well.
Put the cake into an oven preheated to 180C/gas mark 4 for 40 minutes or until it feels firm. Let it cool before turning out. Dust the top with icing sugar. If you like, cut the shape of a Santiago cross out of paper and place it in the middle of the cake before dusting with icing sugar. Then remove the paper shape.
For an interview between The Observer's Rachel Cooke and Claudia Roden from 18th March, 2012 - check out the following link:  
http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/mar/18/claudia-roden-spanish-food-interview 
She discusses her new book, published on 15th March, 2012 by Michael Joseph:  The Food of Spain, a celebration. 



"Predictably, Roden has a theory about tarta de Santiago: she believes that it was originally a Jewish passover cake whose recipe lived on thanks to the conversos (Spanish Jews who converted to Christianity, usually under pressure) and, of course, this makes sense when you consider the Sephardic cakes of almond and orange she championed inA Book of Middle Eastern Food. In Spain, she says, some people are beginning to celebrate their Jewish heritage after years of denial. "I went to stay at a convent where I was visiting an 85-year-old nun who I'd been told had many great recipes – and, by the way, it was true: she gave me 40. But the amazing thing was when we went to Seville cathedral together. In a side chapel, she pointed out the name of the family on her mother's side who'd built it, and it was clear they were converts from Judaism."

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