If you haven’t yet tried the Saint-Germain almond cake, then you’ll probably go nuts after tasting this.
Known simply as le Saint-Germain, this almond-packed cake with a subtle hint of rum was created in 1920 by the Pâtisserie Hardy in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, just west of Paris.
As you can imagine, I’ve tried all sorts of ways to be able to extract the recipe from the patisserie’s creators on rue des Louviers. Each time, however, it’s made clear that the secret recipe has never left the laboratory since it was created in 1920. So, what’s a girl to do?
The answer? Taste as many Saint-Germain cakes as possible and develop as close to the recipe myself to share a part of our delicious royal town, so that you can transport a bit of the Parisian life to your own kitchen, wherever you may be.
Le Saint-Germain Versions
In Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Le Saint-Germain almond cake is available also at the Patisserie Grandin in rue au Pain. While both versions are full of almonds and clearly have some bits of almonds in there too (not just powdered), Grandin’s version is laced a lot more with rum. In fact, it’s pretty boozy!
Not everyone loves rum but if you’re like our family, we love it and a good splash in the glaze is great. Add another tablespoon in the almond filling just for that extra oh-là-là kick.
With or Without the Pastry Base
When I first tasted le Saint-Germain almond cake made by a French neighbour, she didn’t serve the cake at all using sweet pastry like the patisserie versions: it was without the the tart shell and served as a plain – and gluten-free – cake. If you prefer this, it’s just as good on its own, although I’m adding the tart base just to keep the recipe more authentic – even if it’s not from Hardy’s secret laboratory! After painstaking tasting sessions with Lucie, however, I’m happy with the result as it tastes just as good.
Saint-Germain Almond Cake
Just like macarons, once you’ve made this try and forget about it for 24 hours as it tastes so much better after leaving it aside for a day to mature. Believe me, after being greedy and trying it too soon, it really is worth the wait. Try it for yourself and taste the difference.
Known as Le Saint-Germain, this almond and rum cake sits in a pastry shell and tastes even better the next day. Made with ground almonds and a hint of rum, it's an easy recipe which is also served by locals without the tart base, making it a gluten free cake.
- 125 g (4.5oz) butter (unsalted) softened
- 75 g (3oz) icing (powdered) sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt (fleur de sel)
- 1 egg (organic)
- 250 g (9oz) plain flour (all-purpose)
- 100 g (3.5oz) unsalted butter softened
- 75 g (3oz) sugar
- 2 eggs (organic) at room temperature
- 100 g (3.5oz) ground almonds (almond flour)
- 1 tbsp good quality rum optional
- 25 g (1oz) slivered almonds
- 4 tbsp icing (powdered) sugar
- 2 tbsp good quality rum
Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/Gas 4/360°F.
Beat the butter, sugar and salt together in a mixer or by hand until pale and creamy. Gradually add the other ingredients until well combined then split the dough in two, cover in cling film and chill in the fridge for an hour. (You won't need all of this dough - you can freeze the rest or keep it for up to 3 days.)
Remove from the fridge until easily workable. Roll out the pastry to 3-4mm thickness on a floured surface then press into a 24cm (9") tart ring or into a pie case. Leave to set in the fridge for 20 minutes then blind bake by topping with baking parchment and baking beans and bake for 15 minutes. (For a more detailed step-by-step recipe, see my chapter on tarts in 'Teatime in Paris'.) Set aside to cool on a wire rack once turned out.
Cream the butter and sugar together until light and creamy. Add the eggs, ground almonds and rum if using. Sprinkle the slivered almonds on the base of the baked pastry base then spread on the almond filling. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes. Set aside to cool then chill for 24 hours or overnight.
Mix together the icing (powdered) sugar with the rum and spread the glaze on to the cooled almond tart.
Set aside in the fridge for 24 hours to mature and serve at room temperature to appreciate all of the flavours. Decorate with red fruits.
Note: Some local friends make this without the tart base and it's just as good, even if not an authentic Saint-Germain cake. If making this without the sweet pastry base, add another egg to the almond filling.
Nutritional Information: 240 Calories per serving; 6g protein.
More on Saint-Germain-en-Laye
For your own DIY tours, see my posts on Saint-Germain-en-Laye’s rooftop castle visit, a chocolate and pastry teatime walk, and find out other speciality recipes that were created here, including the Sauce Béarnaise.
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