Speaking of cake, I found Spanish baked goods to be pretty unimpressive, especially compared to the amazing wine. (Totally unfair competition: the Camino winds through the Rioja region, where wine is as cheap as bottled water).
Exception: the dense almond cake we ate in Santiago. It's named in honor of Santiago (St. James), the patron saint of Spain.
I put together steps from 2 recipes here, for a recipe that looks pretty easy, though I haven't tried it yet.
Or, here's the link to a gluten-free FLOURLESS ALMOND CAKE, from Domestic Daddy.net. This is also where I got the 2 photos of the ingredients and the finished cake.
Tarta de Santiago, Saint James's Cake
1 1/4 cup sugar
8 tablespoons butter (1 stick), room temperature
1/2 cup water
zest (finely grated outer peel) of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 2/3 cups ground almonds
3/4 cup flour
powdered sugar to decorate
To zest a lemon, use a tool called a lemon zester (right), or grate on the fine teeth of a grater. Try not to get any of the pulpy white pith underneath.
You can buy ground almonds, which should be coarse like granulated sugar. They go rancid pretty quickly if you don't use them up. *Instructions on grinding almonds follow this recipe.
1. Heat the oven to 350 F degrees.
2. In a large mixing bowl, cream the sugar butter together. Add beaten eggs, water, and lemon zest to the sugar-butter mix, and beat well.
3. Stir the baking powder into the ground almonds and regular flour. Add to batter, and mix well.
4. Grease a round 8-inch spring-form pan. Pour batter into pan.
5. Bake in oven on the middle shelf at 350 F degrees for approximately 45-50 minutes.
6. Cake is done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Set on rack to cool.
7. Make a paper cutout of a design you like, lay on cooled cake, sprinkle powdered sugar over it.
(Traditionally the design on top is a cross or sword of St. James. There're lots of horrific militaristic images all along the Camino about Christians driving out the Moors (Muslims) and Jews.)
*How to Toast and Grind Almonds
Option: instead of toasting the almonds, you can blanch them (boil to remove skins, here's how).
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F
2. Place the almonds on cookie sheet into the preheated oven, and bake until they just begin to color (about 8 minutes). Remove and set onto a cooling rack to cool completely before preceding to next step.
3. Once the almonds have cooled completely (they must not be warm or they will turn to a paste in the food processor), place the almonds, 1/4 c. sugar, and 1 Tbsp flour in a food processor.
4. Grind the almonds, sugar, and flour together until to a coarse flour, about the consistency of granulated sugar. Do not grind the nuts too long or the oils will separate and cause the mixture to become paste-like.
5. Remove ground almond flour from the food processor and set aside for making the batter.