When I was at uni I made some great friends that I am still very close to. Although they left London after we had graduated we keep closely in touch and try and see each other as much as we can. They are a mixed bunch from Spain, Brazil and Chile who live in Madrid, Paris and Santiago. For us in Europe it is quite easy to meet up – so we try to go to Madrid and Paris every year and hang out.
This year, my dear brazilians will have a baby! And we have been planing the next randez-vous last week – slightly differently, as there will be a new member to the crew now. 🙂 But it made me thinking about our last trip together, when we went to Madrid and then drove to Castilla y León region, to Soria. More specifically to the highlands of Soria – Tierras Altas.
SPANISH AUTUMNS. It was a beautiful autumnal weekend in November and we drove for over three hours to reach this stunning region. We were staying in a palacete, a small palace from the 16th century, thanks to my friend who had organised it. It was like a time travel – we would have to keep the fire ‘alive’ to keep the house warm; the house has its own ballroom, chapel and many, many rooms. The time had stopped over that weekend. So we cooked a lot, had amazing wine and just hung out around the fire and talk and laugh. And explored Tierras Altas right, left and centre… Magical.
WHEN IN SAN PEDRO MANRIQUE… The weather was stunning – although very frosty in the mornings, it would get really warm towards midday. Perfect for running in the highlands! The landscape is very barren with small hills in between the villages. So it was all there – higher altitude, hills and sun for a well structured running training. My mates are already quite used to me waking up early and disappearing for a run in a random directions, even on holidays. But I managed to explore a different village every day, do my hill sprints and event get fresh bread on my way back to the palacete in time for us to have breakfast together! And the last day on my way back from a run I had seen this beautiful cake in a window of a restaurant (that was closed due to the bank holiday that weekend and the fact it was a Sunday). I just knew it was an almond cake. When we got back to Madrid after Soria, I tried it in a local panaderia where my friend lives and I knew I’ll be making it again as soon as I get back to London.
THE TARTA. It was a tarta de Santiago, one of these gorgeous and very simple cakes that they do in Spain. Just like all the quesadas pasiega and flans we had every time we go to Spain. They tend to be quite sugary so I always have to twist the recipes a bit but also try to stay true to the original. They take their food in Spain very seriously – and rightfully so. It’s divine. So the recipe below is dedicated to one of the most beautiful autumns in Spain, to Soria and my delightful friends.
- 6 eggs
- 200 gr ground almonds
- 50 gr vanilla flavoured protein powder
- 200 gr xylitol (sugar substitute)
- Juice and zest from one orange
- Zest from a half lemon (and a few drops of juice for the egg whites)
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees/ 160 fan.
- Separate the egg whites from the yolks in two big bowls.
- Add the xilitol to the egg yolks and whisk with a mixer until pale in colour and fluffy. Add the orange juice and the zests.
- Beat the egg whites with a few drops of lemon until peaks start to form.
- Then gently fold the egg yolks mixture into the egg whites, followed by the ground almonds and the vanilla protein until well combined. Don't overdo the batter.
- Pour the mixture into a non-sticky baking tray and bake for approx 50 minutes or until inserted skewer comes out clean.