Torta de Santiago
(Almond cake)

Serves 8

4 medium eggs, separated
175g (6oz) golden caster sugar
Pinch of ground cinnamon
200g (7oz) ground almonds
Pinch of salt
Strawberries and orange slices dusted with caster sugar to serve

1. Preheat oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4. Butter the sides and base of a 22cm (8½in) diameter, 6.5cm (2½in) deep spring-form cake tin. Line with baking parchment.
2. Put the egg whites into a bowl with the pinch of salt and, using electric beaters, whisk until soft peaks form. Whisk in half the sugar a tablespoon at a time.
3. Whisk the yolks in a separate bowl with the rest of the sugar and cinnamon until thick and the mixture leaves a trail when the beaters are lifted out.
4. Mix in the almonds and gently fold in the whites.
5. Put in the tin and bake for 50 minutes until the cake is firm to the touch. If it is over-browning, cover with tin foil before cooking for the remaining time.
6. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with icing sugar and serve with the fruit.

COOK’S TIP - This flourless and fat free cake is named after the patron saint of Spain,
Santiago. It is traditionally decorated with his emblem, a sword, as shown.

Bizcochos Borrachos

Makes 1 8-inch cake or 9 small servings

Light spongy cake, drizzled with a sweet sauce of brandy, lemon and cinnamon. It is a wonderful light dessert to complete a Spanish dinner. These "bizcochos" are the perfect accompaniment to a hot cup of Spanish coffee or hot chocolate on a cold morning or for afternoon tea.

4 eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon for decoration
For Sauce:
1/3 cup granulated sugar
8 oz. water
1.5 Tbsp honey
1 1/2 oz. brandy or rum
1 cinnamon stick
peel from 1/2 lemon

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit or 180 degrees Centigrade. Generously grease a 8-inch square cake pan with vegetable shortening, then flour it.
2. Separate the yolks from the egg whites. Then, beat the egg yolks in a bowl with the sugar until it forms a creamy mixture.
3. In another mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until they are stiff enough to form a point. Fold in the yolk mixture with a spatula, smoothly and carefully.
4. Fold in the baking powder and flour gradually, a bit at a time.
5. Pour in the batter and bake for 20 minutes, or until it turns golden. Check doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center. If it is clean when pulled out, cake is done.
6. While the cake is baking, make the syrup. In a small sauce pan, pour water and sugar, cinnamon, honey and lemon peel. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally. Allow to boil 1 minute. Remove from heat and add the brandy and allow the syrup to cool.
7. After the cake has cooled, carefully cut into 9 pieces and place them on a serving plate. Drizzle the pieces of cake with the brandy sauce and then dust the top with cinnamon. Serve with coffee or tea.

Tortas de Aceite
(Spanish Oil Cake)

Oil cakes or "tortas de aceite" originated in Andalucia, specifically near Sevilla. They became popular in the 19th century and recently have seen a surge in popularity, especially in the USA. These cakes are a light and healthy alternative dessert, simply made with flour, water, yeast, olive oil and sprinkled lightly with sugar.

1 Tbsp (10 gr) dry yeast
6 Tbsp Spanish virgin olive oil
12 Tbsp warm water
1 tsp salt
2 1/3 cups (300 gr) unbleached white flour
granulated sugar for topping
anise seeds for topping

1. This torta de aceite recipe makes about 8 tortas, 6-inches in diameter.
2. In a large mixing bowl, mix 6 Tbsp warm water, yeast, salt and olive oil until yeast is completely dissolved. Gradually add flour, mixing thoroughly. As dough mixture becomes too dry to continue to mix, sprinkle in a bit more water and mix. Repeat until all water is gone and dough has a smooth consistency. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and leave in a warm spot for 30 minutes.
3. Note: If the kitchen is drafty, warm oven to 200F degrees for about 5 minutes, then turn off. Place bowl in the oven for 30 minutes.
4. Heat oven to 450F (230C).
5. Grease 2 cookie sheets with oil. Turn the dough out onto a floured board. Pinch off a small amount of dough and roll into a ball about 1 ½ times the size of a golf ball, using your hands. Using a rolling pin, roll the ball of dough out until very thin. Roll out the dough to approximately 8-inch circles, then carefully transfer each one from the cutting board to the cookie sheet. Sprinkle with sugar and anise seeds.
6. Place cookie sheets in hot oven and bake. After approximately 10-12 minutes, if the edges are turning brown, remove them from oven and allow to cool. Serve warm as a light dessert.

Dessert Toppings: Top with sugar and finely chopped almonds or hazelnuts. Finely chopped candied fruit can also be used as a topping.

Roscon de Reyes
(Kings cake)

Serves 8-10

"Roscon de Reyes" is a traditional dessert, served the night before or morning of “Reyes” or Epiphany, January 6th. "Dia de Reyes" or simply "Reyes" is the day when children in Spain receive gifts from the "Reyes Magos"–Wise Men or Magi. The 3 kings who brought baby Jesus gifts. Instead of gifts from Santa Claus, they receive them from the "Reyes Magos."
It is traditional to put several surprises inside the "roscon." A porcelain figure of a baby wrapped in foil and a dry bean are hidden in the dough. Whoever finds the baby will have good luck and be the king of the party, but if you find the bean - pay for the cake!

4 cups unbleached flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 oz yeast
2/3 cup mixed lukewarm milk and water (of equal parts)
6 Tbsp butter
6 Tbsp sugar
grated rind of 1 lemon
grated rind of 1 orange
2 eggs
1 Tbsp brandy
1 Tbsp water
1 egg white, lightly beaten
candied fruit pieces, cherries, oranges, etc.

1. Sift flour and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Make a hole in the center of the flour.
2. In a small mixing bowl, stir and dissolve the dry yeast in the lukewarm milk-water mixture. Once dissolved, pour the dissolved yeast into the center of the flour. Stir in just enough flour from around the bowl to make a thick batter.
3. With your hand, grab about a teaspoon of the flour from the side of bowl and sprinkle it over the top of batter. Cover bowl with a kitchen towel and leave in a warm place, away from any draft. Allow batter to turn spongy, about 15 minutes.
4. In a medium-size mixing bowl, use a hand mixer or whisk to beat together the butter and sugar. The mixture should be smooth and creamy. Set aside.
5. Put grated orange and lemon rinds, eggs, brandy and water to the bowl with flour mixture. Mix all. The dough will be sticky.
6. Beat flour mixture until it is elastic and smooth. Beat in butter-sugar mixture and mix until the dough is smooth. Dough should be formed into a ball, then covered with oiled plastic wrap. Cover bowl with a kitchen towel and leave it again in a warm place and allow to rise until doubled in size. This will take approximately 1.5 hours.
7. While you are waiting for the dough to rise, grease a large baking sheet with vegetable shortening and set aside for use later. If you will use a baking stone, no need to grease it
8. Once dough has doubled, remove plastic wrap and punch dough down. Lightly flour a clean counter or cutting board and place dough on it. Knead for 2-3 minutes. Then, using a rolling pin, roll dough into a long rectangle, about 2 feet long and 5-6 inches wide.
9. Roll the dough on the long side into a sausage shape. Carefully place the dough onto the large baking sheet or stone and connect the ends together, forming a ring. If you will hide a bean or a small foil-wrapped, ceramic figurine in the cake, now is the time to tuck it under the dough. Cover with oiled plastic wrap again. Leave in a warm place and allow to double in size. This will take about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
10. Heat oven to 350F degrees. Lightly beat the egg white in a bowl. Uncover the dough and brush the top of the cake. Decorate the ring with the candied fruit pieces. Push them into the dough slightly so that they do not fall off. Place in oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool on a rack before serving.
11. In the last half of the 20th century, filling the roscon with whipped cream or a thick custard became popular. Today about a third of the roscones sold in Spain are filled. If you want to fill yours, use a bread knife to slice the bread in half horizontally and carefully remove the top. Next, squeeze in the whipped cream or filling you've chosen and carefully replace the top. Keep refrigerated until serving if filled with cream or custard.

Crema Catalana
(Catalan Cream)

Just before serving, it is traditional in Cataluña to place a heated iron with a spiral shape to brown and caramelize the top of the crema catalana. If your kitchen equipment doesn’t include a spiral-shaped hot iron, don’t worry! Simply caramelize the sugar under the broiler of your oven.

Serves 4

1 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 stick cinnamon
grated rind of 1 lemon
2 cups milk

1. In a pot, beat together the egg yolks and 3/4 cup sugar until thoroughly blended and the mixture turns frothy. Add the cinnamon stick and grated lemon rind. Pour in the milk and cornstarch. Slowly heat the mixture, stirring constantly, just until thickened. Remove pot from heat immediately.
Tip: As soon as the mixture thickens and you feel resistance while stirring, remove the pot from the heat or the mixture may curdle or separate! The texture of the finished crema will be grainy instead of smooth and creamy as it should be.
2. Remove the cinnamon stick and ladle the milk mixture into 4-6 ramekins (depending on size). Allow to cool, then refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours.
3. Before serving, preheat the broiler. Remove ramekins with the crema catalana from refrigerator and sprinkle the rest of the sugar over each ramekin. When broiler is hot, place the ramekins under the broiler on the top shelf and allow the sugar to caramelize, turning gold and brown. This may take 10 minutes or so, depending on your broiler. Remove and serve immediately.

(Spanish Fritters)

Serves 2-3

1 cup water
2 1/2 tablespoons white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 quarts oil for frying
1/2 cup white sugar, or to taste
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine water, 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar, salt and 2 tablespoons vegetable oil. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Stir in flour until mixture forms a ball.
2. Heat oil for frying in deep-fryer or deep skillet to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Pipe strips of dough into hot oil using a pastry bag. Fry until golden; drain on paper towels.
3. Combine 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon. Roll drained churros in cinnamon and sugar mixture.

Natillas de Avellanas
(Spanish Hazelnut Custard)

Spanish custard, called “natillas” is one of the foods that make many Spanish adults recall their childhood fondly. Our “natillas” recipe makes a smooth, rich custard, flavored with brandy and hazelnuts, which is wonderful eaten while still warm.

Serves 4-6

3 egg yolks
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
6.5 Tbsp (50 grams) unbleached white flour
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups (1/2 liter) milk
2 oz (50 grams) blanched hazelnuts
2-3 oz (60-90 ml) brandy

1. Place egg yolks, sugar and flour into a small bowl and mix together using a stick blender. Set aside.
2. Grind the hazelnuts and set aside.
3. In a medium size sauce pan, heat milk slowly for about 5 minutes until it reaches a boil. Stir in vanilla extract.
4. Remove milk from burner and whisk in egg mixture. Continue to stir as the mixture thickens. Slowly stir in half of the brandy and the ground hazelnuts. Taste and stir rest of brandy.