Tarta de Santiago

Saint James Tart with Quince

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Makes

    12

Appears in

MoVida

By Frank Camorra and Richard Cornish

Published 2007

  • About

Santiago de Compestela is not just home to a magnificent twin-spired medieval cathedral but is also the birthplace of a wonderful tart. Tarta de Santiago is always filled with ground almonds and egg in a buttery short pastry. (Butter is more common in the greener, wetter north where dairy cows thrive.) After baking, the cross of the knights of Saint James (Santiago means Saint James) is placed on top of the tart and then it is dusted with sugar, leaving the sign of the cross on the tart. At this tart’s core is a square of quince paste, surrounded by an almond filling sweetened with Pedro Ximénez sherry, and then encased in buttery, shortcrust pastry flavoured with lemon. I think you’ll agree it was worth the trip.

Ingredients

  • 300 g (10½ oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz/4 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 480 g (1 lb 1 oz) caster (superfine) sugar
  • rind of 2 lemons, finely grated
  • 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 8 eggs, at room temperature
  • 350 g (12 oz) blanched almonds
  • 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) Pedro Ximénez sherry
  • rind of 1 orange, finely grated
  • 1 egg, extra, lightly beaten
  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) quince paste
  • icing (confectioners’) sugar, to dust

Method

To make the pastry, cut 250 g (9 oz) of the butter into 1 cm (½ inch) cubes. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add 325 g (11½ oz) of the caster sugar, the lemon rind and a pinch of salt and mix in well with a wooden spoon. Mix in the egg yolk and then two of the eggs, one at a time. Mix together for 1 minute until a soft dough forms. Roll the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.

To make the filling, blend half the almonds in a food processor for 2 minutes until finely crushed. Add the remaining almonds and blend for 30 seconds until very roughly crushed. The idea is to have a mix of finely crushed and roughly crushed almonds.

Mix together the almonds, remaining sugar, sherry and orange rind in a bowl. Add the remaining six eggs, one at a time, and mix well.

Melt the remaining butter and mix thoroughly into the filling. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

With a little butter grease, then flour, twelve 10 cm (4 inch) diameter flan tins.

Cut the pastry into four portions and roll each one out on a clean, well-floured bench to about 2 mm (1/16 inch) thick. Cut out three 12 cm (4½ inch) circles from each portion of pastry and line the tins with the pastry. Prick each base several times with a fork. Trim the edges. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 160°C (315°F/Gas 2–3).

Line each pastry case with baking paper and a layer of baking beads or dry beans and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the paper and beans and brush the base of the tart with a little of the beaten egg and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes, or until lightly golden. Remove from the oven.

Divide the quince paste into 12 equal slices. Place a slice of quince paste into each pastry shell and cover with the filling. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Dust with icing sugar.