This is a splendid cake. 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. When I suggested to a man associated with the tourist office in Galicia that it 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.
1/2 lb. (1-3/4 cups) blanched whole 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
Finely grind the almonds in a food processor.
With an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks with the sugar to a smooth pale cream. Beat in the zests and almond extract. Add the ground almonds and mix very well.
With clean beaters, beat the egg whites in a large bowl until stiff peaks form. Fold them into the egg and almond mixture (the mixture is thick, so you will need to turn it over quite a bit into the egg whites).
Grease an 11-inch springform pan, preferably nonstick, with butter and dust it with flour. Pour in the cake batter, and bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 40 minutes, or until it feels firm to the touch. Let cool before turning out.
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 the cake with confectioners' sugar, then remove the paper.
photo: Jason Lowe
From Book The Food of Spain
July 7, 2011