Saint-Germain Almond Cake

If you haven’t yet tried the Saint-Germain almond cake, then you’ll probably go nuts after tasting this.

Saint-Germain almond cake

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.

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle

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

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.

Saint-Germain Cake

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 Cake

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.

Saint-Germain Almond Cake
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
35 mins
Resting Time
16 hrs 40 mins
Total Time
55 mins

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.

Course: Dessert, teatime
Cuisine: French
Keyword: almond rum cake, Easy almond tart recipes, Saint Germain almond cake, Saint-Germain
Servings: 8
Calories: 260 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Sweet Pastry Base:
  • 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)
Almond Filling:
  • 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
Sweet Pastry (this part is optional):
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/Gas 4/360°F.

  2. 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.)

  3. 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.

Almond Filling:
  1. 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. 

  1. Mix together the icing (powdered) sugar with the rum and spread the glaze on to the cooled almond tart. 

Recipe Notes

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.


Jill Colonna

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.

Saint Germain Cake

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20 replies
  1. Choclette
    Choclette says:

    I do love a good almond cake and this one looks superb. Rum is completely unexpected for some reason, but I’m definitely up for trying it. But how tough for you to have to taste test so many Saint-Germain almond cakes 😀


    • Jill Colonna
      Jill Colonna says:

      Totally agreed on the rum surprise, Choclette, but love how it works! Yes, loved doing a bit of delicious local research! Thanks for sharing. Bon week-end!

  2. Christina
    Christina says:

    This cake looks and sounds absolutely fantastic, Jill and I bet you got it really close to the original in your own recipe! Who doesn’t love rum? Can’t wait to try this! 🙂

    • Jill Colonna
      Jill Colonna says:

      It took a few tastings, believe me Christina (someone had to do it all in the name of research!) and the family are happy with this 🙂

  3. Kathy
    Kathy says:

    This was so fun to make and SO delicious! I shared it with my neighbor, who immediately texted me for the recipe. My tart pan was 11-1/4 inches, or 28 cm, so I used more than half of the pastry and that should have been my clue to double the glaze. But, in my excitement, it wasn’t – so my glaze appeared as a shiny sheen. If all you have is a large tart tin, it’s still every bit as delicious, just not as “cakey” & needs minor adjustments. I’m going to make it again in one of my smaller tins.
    It’s perfect for summer with fresh raspberries! And so easy to make ahead for guests.

    • Jill Colonna
      Jill Colonna says:

      Thanks so much for your feedback, Kathy – thrilled you and your neighbour liked the recipe. Jings – I forgot to precise the size of tart ring I used so have updated, merci! I use a 24cm (9inch) ring of only 2cm height but this is the kind of recipe that a few grams/oz won’t make a huge difference. As you can see from the photos of the patisseries’ versions, the glaze is very thin so your shiny sheen is also great. You’re right – it’s a perfect dessert to make in advance and great with berries.

    • Jill Colonna
      Jill Colonna says:

      Thanks, Sherry. Don’t worry about posting comments – I just have to approve them before they appear, simply to avoid the spam. Appreciate you leaving your kind words here!

  4. Sherry
    Sherry says:

    this sounds delicious Jill. Reminds me of having a black forest cake made with a shortcrust base. no one seems to do that anymore:) cheers sherry

    • Jill Colonna
      Jill Colonna says:

      That sounds good too, which reminds me I need to post something re Black Forest with cherries and chocolate! This is just plain almond with rum and although sounds so simple, it’s incredibly good!

  5. Liz
    Liz says:

    Jill, thank you sharing this wonderful recipe. I am going to have a go at making it over the next two weeks and will post the pictures of how it turns out. Watch that space (although I am going to take it to work as I am worried about my waistline …! I will eat it – it looks so delicious. Thank you again for the lovely pics with the recipe. Just great.

    • Jill Colonna
      Jill Colonna says:

      It’s a real pleasure, Liz. Great idea to share this cake at work, as it is a bit compulsive eating. Great with all the lovely fresh berries just now!

  6. Jean
    Jean says:

    I didn’t know about the Saint Germain cake. Thanks for sharing this Jill – looks good! Loving your posts about Saint Germain – I need to visit. No idea about the Sauce Béarnaise either!

    • Jill Colonna
      Jill Colonna says:

      Oh you would love to visit Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Jean. It’s just a quick RER A ride from Paris and full of interesting things to see and do – and eat!

    • Jill Colonna
      Jill Colonna says:

      Thanks, Dave. I think the town should be making more of this cake, as it’s a hidden gem here. It’s also a very easy recipe!



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