Gluten-free Almond & Orange Cake (Tarta de Santiago)

Simple cake that is deliciously moist and has a marzipan-like flavour. This Dairy-free, Gluten-free and Paleo recipe is made with ground almonds and honey.

Gluten-free Almond & Orange Cake (Tarta de Santiago)

Santiago cake is a flourless almond cake that originates from the Galicia region of Spain. It is a rustic cake that is simple to make and inexpensive, as it contains so few ingredients. What you get in return for your minimal investment is a light, moist cake, tipping almost into pudding territory, that is richly redolent of marzipan.

Happily, Santiago cake is ideally suited to the Paleo diet, in that the recipe is already free from dairy and flour – all you need to do is substitute honey for sugar. So I followed the tips I gave in a previous post on how to replace sugar with honey:

  • because honey is denser than sugar, I reduced the amount by 40%
  • because honey attracts water less liquid is needed, I reduced the number of eggs by 1
  • because honey browns faster than sugar, I reduced the oven temperature from 180°C/350°F to 160°C/320°F, put a layer of tin foil on top of the cake for the first 30 minutes, and increased the cooking time from 40 minutes to 60 minutes to compensate for the lower temperature

As with all flourless cakes, do allow the cake to cool for at least 10 minutes before turning it out of the tin and onto a wire cooling rack. Otherwise there’s a danger your lovely cake will fall apart at the critical moment, in the absence of stretchy gluten molecules holding everything together.

makes cooking time
1 cake
Gluten-free Almond & Orange Cake (Tarta de Santiago)
Ingredients Instructions
  • 2 3/4 cups (250g) ground almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • 3/4 cup (200g) honey
  • grated zest of 1 organic lemon
  • grated zest of 1 organic orange
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 cup orange juice (about 1 small orange)

for greasing the cake tin:

  • light olive oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/320°F. Lightly grease the sides of a deep 20cm/8″ loose-bottomed cake tin with light olive oil, and line the bottom with baking paper.
  2. In a small bowl, measure out the dry ingredients (ground almonds and cinnamon).
  3. In a large mixing bowl, measure out the wet ingredients (egg yolks, honey, lemon zest, orange zest, almond extract and orange juice).
  4. Put the egg whites in a clean, dry bowl and whisk with an electric whisk for 2 minutes, until soft peaks form.
  5. Mix the wet ingredients until blended using the same whisk. Add the dry ingredients, and stir until blended using a wooden spoon.
  6. Lighten the mixture by stirring in one-third of the whisked egg whites. Tip in the rest of the egg whites and gently fold in using a spatula: cut down the centre with the side edge of the spatula; scrape across the bottom of the bowl and up the side, scooping up the mixture as you go so that it is turned over and under; rotate the bowl 90° and repeat until fully blended. Be careful not to overwork the mixture and knock out the air, but make sure the bitter egg white is fully blended.
  7. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, and transfer to the preheated oven. Bake for 50 minutes – 1 hour, until golden on top and springy to the touch. Rest a sheet of tin foil on top after 40 minutes, to avoid over-browning.
  8. Wait until the cake has cooled for 10 minutes before running a palette knife around the sides and turning out onto a wire cooling rack.


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