There’s a lot to love about the Camino. However, Spain’s pilgrim menu dinners are generally not high on anyone’s list.
Sure, they’re cheap (10 euro for three courses, plus wine). And it’s predictable, which can be comforting in a strange culture.
But it’s so, SO predictable.
There’s the first course: salad, complete with a dollop of tuna and a hard-boiled egg, or lentils.
There’s the second course: lomo and papas fritas. Or maybe chicken. When you’re really lucky, trout. But always, ALWAYS the fritas.
There’s dessert. Do you want flan, helado, or fruit?
But then, as we neared Galicia, something new started appearing on the Pilgrim Menu.
Tarta de Santiago.
A Santiago cake? Yes, please.
It was delicious. Simple and nutty, not too sweet.
Three weeks after we came home, I made Eric a tarta de Santiago for his birthday. And then this week, as I’ve been buried deep in writing and editing The Book, the urge appeared again. So here, for alumni pilgrims homesick for a taste of Spain, is a moment of (gluten free, protein rich) nostalgia. (Recipe slightly altered from this one at Epicurious)
- 1/2 pound (1 3/4 cups) blanched almonds (whole, sliced, slivered, doesn’t matter; you’re going to crush them)
- 6 large eggs, separated
- 1 1/4 cups superfine sugar
- Grated zest of 1 orange or 1 teaspoon of orange extract
- Grated zest of 1 lemon or 1 1/2 teaspoons of lemon juice
- 4 drops almond extract
- Dash of cinnamon (optional, but it makes it smell so good)
- Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
- Finely grind the almonds in a food processor. (Make sure they’re really, really ground.)
- 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 well.
- With clean beaters, beat the egg whites in a large bowl until stiff peaks form. (If you don’t have electric beaters and are trying this by hand, be prepared for it to take a while…and for some sore arm muscles). Fold them into the egg and almond mixture (the mixture is thick, so that you will need to turn it over quite a bit into the egg whites).
- Grease an 11-inch springform pan or other round cake pan with butter and dust it with flour. Pour in the cake batter, and bake into a preheated 350°F 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.
Serve with vino tinto, of course.
What foods did you start making after your Camino?