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Saint-Germain Almond Cake

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

slice of almond cake topped with rum glaze and redcurrants


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, between Paris and Versailles.

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle

Le Saint-Germain Secret

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, they make it 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 Cake 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 Cake

Saint Germain Cake

Saint-Germain Almond Cake

Just like macarons, once you’ve made this try and forget about it for 24 hours.
It tastes even better after leaving it aside for a day to mature.

Believe me, it really is worth the wait.  Try it for yourself and taste the difference.

More Saint-Germain-en-Laye Delights

For your own DIY tours, see my posts: an introduction to Saint-Germain-en-Laye, a chocolate and pastry St Germain walk, and find out other speciality recipes that were created here, including the Sauce Béarnaise.

Saint-Germain Almond Cake

slice of almond cake topped with rum glaze and redcurrants
5 from 4 votes

Saint-Germain Almond Cake

Author: Jill Colonna
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Resting Time16 hrs 40 mins
Total Time55 mins
Course : Dessert, teatime
Cuisine : French
Keyword : Saint-Germain, Saint Germain almond cake, almond rum cake, Easy almond tart recipes
Servings : 8
Calories : 260kcal

Description

Known as Le Saint-Germain, this almond and rum cake was invented by the Patisserie Hardy in 1920, Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Although the genuine recipe is a local secret, I have attempted to create something similar for those of you who cannot visit Paris.

Ingredients

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

Glaze:

  • 4 tbsp icing (powdered) sugar
  • 2 tbsp good quality rum

Instructions

Sweet Pastry (this part is optional):

  • 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.

Almond Filling:

  • 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 further in the oven for 25 minutes (same temperature as above).  Set aside to cool then chill for 24 hours or overnight in the fridge. 

Glaze:

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

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. Although you can serve this on the day, waiting until the next day is really worth the wait. Like macarons, the flavours intensify and the result is so much better after maturing the cake.
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.

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Reviews (32)

Since I have to be gluten free, I am going to make only the “topping” as a separate cake. Where do the sliced almonds go? On the top of the cake? I may even try the pastry with gluten free flour! Thank you. It looks divine.

Put the almonds either in the bottom before the batter or sprinkle on top – up to you. If you try this with your gluten free flour, please tell me how it goes. Thanks, Alene.

Hi-

How happy I am to find this recipes!
Thanks a lot.
Gonna try!
But something not clear for me when you filled up the almond cream in the pate à tarte you need to bake at 180 degrees also right?
When you need to let it cool down its in the fridge or room temperature ?

Thanks .

I am so glad you like this recipe, Jessica.
Yes, the temperature is the same at 180°C for baking further with the almond filling (I have now added this in the recipe just to make this 100% clear). Cooling the tart down first is at room temperature then chill in the fridge. Jill x

5 stars
Hi Jill-
Thanks for the response ! It went so well I added some stuff as we dont feel the separation between the dough ans the cream turn exactly as St germain bakery one ! How thankful am to you !!!! 🙂 my husband grew up with that pastry 🙂 .
If I want to make small one how long do you think the baking time will be please? Thanks !

So happy you liked the recipe and reminded you of the St Germain bakeries your husband grew up with. Of course it won’t be exactly the same, as I leave these for the genuine patisseries to continue their secret recipe but it’s the best I could come up with and feel it’s pretty close! As a matter of interest, what was the “some stuff” you added? I personally love the addition of the chestnut paste but then it’s no longer a Saint-Germain.
For a small one, you mean a tartlet? If so, I’d suggest baking 10-15 minutes then a further 15-20 minutes with the almond cream. Happy baking!

thank you for the answer ! I will try small size. I spread the bottom of the pie crust almost the same thickness as the almond cream so that you don’t feel too much the separation of the cream and the pie dough in your mouth – to my memories we do not feel any separation between the crist and cream we know there is two different  texture but same time feel one is the “continuité  ” of each other so was worried about it and décided to think of something  🙂 I did not put the slivered almonds. I put almond powder in the pie crust and I baked the pie crust for a shorter time (alone) 5 minutes before the end of baking I covered my pie base with a thin layer of egg yolk + icing sugar for a little more caramelized taste. I just changed that 🙂 🙂

Interesting – thanks for sharing, Jessica. I love having to taste these from the patisserie on a regular basis and make my own just to keep up to date. The Hardy’s original Saint-Germain put slivered almonds on the base after doing a cross-section, so that’s why I add them. Glad you like it!


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