Latin Flair – Torta de Santiago (St. James Cake)

Latin Flair – Torta de Santiago (St. James Cake)

Funny things happen when you are a first generation Latino growing up in the United States, especially when your parents don’t speak English. Yes, my parents first came to this country over 30 years ago and don’t speak the language. I’ll get into how they managed in another post. Today, I want to get into the complexities of growing up being fluent and using two different languages.

Many years ago my mom sent my sister Sue and I to the store and said, “Comprame dos limones.”  (Buy me two lemons). When my sister and I arrived at the store we found ourselves in front of a pile of lemons and limes not knowing which one to pick from. We had never seen lemons before in the house. But since her request was for lemons we purchased two of them. Low and behold, when we got home, we had the wrong thing. See when my mom says lemon she really means lime. And she thought we were crazy for even bringing the lemons home, pointing out how lemons were never in the house… EVER!

Latin Flair – Torta de Santiago (St. James Cake)
Latin Flair – Torta de Santiago (St. James Cake)

So lesson learned for Sue and I. Whenever we have anything lemon or lime flavored we already remember the look on our mom’s face when she saw we brought her lemons instead of limes.

No confusion with this cake though. Flavored with lemons and almond extract it’s a simple one that is sure to please anyone. It incorporates a good amount of almond flour as well, which while giving it a dense texture makes the cake surprising light when you bite into it. This confection is said to originate in Santiago, a city in northwest Spain that is famous for the road where millions walked in pilgrimage to the burial site of Saint James the Apostle (Santiago). The cake is traditionally decorated with powdered sugar on top stenciled in the shape of the St. James cross. I skipped that and baked mine in a bundt pan an enjoyed it plain. Note that if you bake this in a traditional sized bundt pan like it did, you’re going to get a slightly flatter cake. But don’t fret – it’s super delish.


Yield: One (slightly flat) Bundt Cake

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, at room temperature;
  • 1 cup almond flour;
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour, sifted;
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder;
  • Pinch of salt;
  • 1 cup sugar;
  • 4 large eggs;
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon;
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract;
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract;
  • Confectioners’ sugar (for dusting).


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a traditional size bundt pan.
  2. Stir the almond flour, all purpose flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. Beat the sugar and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment until light and fluffy, 4-6 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time making sure to scrap down the bowl between additions. Add the zest and vanilla and almond extracts.
  3. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet with a rubber spatula one-third at a time until just mixed. Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 to 25 minutes. Cool completely and lightly dust the top with confectioners’ sugar.
  1. This looks delicious! I like a similar cake from Spain called biscocho de Badajoz and it has a crispy crackly top. Will have to try your recipe!

  2. Great story! I always find it interesting that most Americans can only speak one language. Over here, in South Africa, it’s common to speak two languages, sometimes even three. And the lost in translation thing can be quite amusing!

    Have never heard of this cake, but it looks super tasty – you know I’m a sucker for citrus anything.

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