Wednesday, 21 August 2013

tarta de santiago

after making quince paste a while back i was keen to use it in cooking rather than just limiting it to a cheese platter..when i looked on line i came upon the tarta de santiago which i hadn't heard of before..reading more about it led me on a wonderful journey through history and i learned that the tarta is named in honour of saint james who is the patron saint of spain..legend has it that his remains were carried by boat from jerusalem and buried at the site of what is now santiago de compostela in northern spain..

the origin of the tarta is not certain but two suggestions have been put forward..on the one hand it may have been brought to the region by a pilgrim during the middle ages when making the journey to santiago de compostela was one of the most important pilgrimages in the christian world or it may date back to the spanish inquisition when jews in hiding cooked it during passover because it doesn't contain the second case i guess the icing sugar cross that is stencilled on the tarta would have been a later addition because of its christian associations..

the pilgrimage has become really popular in recent times with each year thousands of people making the journey along various sections of the camino (the road) to santiago de comepostela.. i had the opportunity to walk the camino frances (the french way) with some friends about 12 years ago but lack of funds stopped me going..i was really disappointed at the time but any glimmer of yearning and disappointment that lingered about not going was erased as i learned, in reading about the tarta and its associations with the compostela, about the multitudes, the very flat terrain and the close proximity of busy roads to the walking paths..

there seem to be two distinct varieties of tarta de has a pastry base and the other more commonly made one doesn't..the recipe (go here for recipe) i chose had a pastry base, a layer of melted quince paste (dulce de membrillo in spanish) and an almond and citrus day i might try the other variety but it will be hard to veer from this recipe because the tarta is so so good..

unfortunately the cross doesn't stand out so next time i will
cut out a bigger template

i found this shell along with several others on a beach in queensland recently while on holiday with my brothers adam and tim..i have them lined up on a window sill in my sitting room and they are a lovely reminder of the ocean and our holiday but they are also linked to the tarta..that's because the scallop shell is an iconic symbol of the camino de santiago..

next year on july 25, saint james's day, i'd like to make a scallop dish and a tarta de santiago to celebrate his feast day 


  1. almonds, amaretto and quince....sounds absolutely divine Jane. I hadn't played with quinces before this season and I'm rather smitten with them now. Jane (Shady Baker) got me baking them and they were absolutely delicious.
    I've popped this one on my list to make.

    1. thanks brydie..the pastry recipe alone is one that i'll be using in future for sweet tarts and pies..x