St. James cake

Catholic or not, the majority of Spaniards celebrate today the festivity of Saint James, patron of Spain.

Miguel de Cervantes tells  that Don Quixote, when Sancho Panza asked “why the Spaniards when they are about to give battle, in calling on that Saint James the Moorslayer, say ‘Santiago and close Spain!?’”, replied  “Thou art very simple, Sancho; God, look you, gave that great knight of the Red Cross to Spain as her patron saint and protector “.  Francisco de Quevedo wrote to King Philip IV: “God made Santiago, Patron of Spain, which did not exist, so that when the day comes could intercede for her and bring her back to life with his doctrine and his sword “.

To commemorate this event I bring you today a recipe of St. James cake, decorated with the cross of Santiago, which gives it character. I hope you enjoy it and if you want to know more about the Jacobean tradition I recommend this link which contains a summary of its history (spanish) or this one in english.


200 g. ground almond
200 g. sugar
50 g. butter softened
4 eggs
Zest of half lemon
Sugar glaze to decorate

For the dough

½ kg. flour
300 g. butter softened
175 g. sugar glaze
1 egg
50 milliliters of milk


First the dough,  put the butter with the powder sugar, a pinch of salt, a bit of vanilla, egg and milk into a bowl and mix everything very well until you obtain a cream. Then add the flour and continue mixing.

When the mixture has the texture of  a soft dough, wrap it in cling film and refrigerate for a couple of hours. After that time, stretch with a roller (between two sheets of baking paper is very easy) and cover with it a  low round pan. I will tell you that with these proportions I got enough dough  to cover two pans, so you can make a second cake with another filling, as I did, or two cakes of Saint James…

Now we start with the filling. In a bowl mix the almond ground with sugar and lemon zest. When they are all mixed, add eggs one at a time and the softened butter. Mix everything well and let stand for 40 minutes. It is now a good time to turn on the oven to 170 ° C. (340 ºF)

After that time pour the filling into the pan up to the edge and put it in the oven for 45 minutes. When it’s ready, remove from the oven and leave it cool, when it is cold we can decorate with powdered sugar and draw a cross of Santiago in the middle (the template is here too). Enjoy!

11 Replies to “St. James cake”

  1. Hi there I want to make this cake, it looks so beautiful. I have a couple of questions. When you have made the dough do you put that in the cake tin and cook it and then add the filling when it’s cooked? Or do I add the filling as well and cook both the filling and the dough together? I think I’m a bit confused 🙂 Claire

    1. Hi Claire!
      Thanks for asking. You have to bake everything together, at the same time, dough and filling.
      No need to bake beforehand the shell.
      I hope this answer your doubts.
      Have a nice day and let me know how it went 🙂

    1. Hi Spree!
      Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you liked my blog.
      This cake is really good and it comes with some history, what makes it even better 😉
      Happy Valentine’s day!

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