Saint Mark Cake (12th Century Recipe) (2024)

Introduction: Saint Mark Cake (12th Century Recipe)

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Saint Mark cake is one of the most popular traditional cakes from Spain. It was first made in the 12th century in the convent of Saint Mark in León (Spain). The convent was founded by the queen Sancha to host pilgrims of the Way of Saint James on their way to Santiago de Compostela. The cake was traditionally made for Saint Mark's day (April 25th), but as the centuries passed by it became a cake for any other occasion.

The recipe is a little labourious, having to prepare four components, but the final taste is unforgettable.

Step 1: Ingredients


140g Sugar

160g Self raising flour

4 Large eggs

40g (3 tbsp) Butter


200ml Water

200g Sugar

100-150ml Liquor


180g Sugar

60ml Water

4 Egg yolks

7g Cornstarch

1/2 tsp Vanilla extract (not really needed; be careful when adding extracts because you can accidentally put too much)

600g Whipping cream

160g Sugar

2 tbsp Cocoa powder

Step 2: Sponge Cake (classic Genoise Sponge Cake)

The base for the cake will be a classic Genoese sponge cake. It's the easiest and most effective recipe for a sponge cake that I know. I like it because it always rises a lot, has a very spongey texture and does not have a strong taste, so it's good for soaking and adding other flavours on its surface.

- Separate the egg yolks from the whites.

- Mix the egg yolks with the sugar until you get a smooth mix.

- Melt the butter and add it to the mix.

- Add the self-raising flour and mix.

- In another bowl, whisk the egg whites and add them to the other ingredients making gentle circular moves (we want to keep the foamy texture of the whites).

- Put the mix in a mold (20cm / 8 inches) for about 30 minutes at 180ºC (355ºF).

- Take it out of the oven and once it has cooled down cut it into 3 layers.

Step 3: Soaking Syrup

- Put the sugar, water nd liquor in a pot and bring the mix to boil.

- Once all the sugar has dissolved, turn off the stove and let it cool.

Step 4: Toasted Yolk Topping

- Bring to boil the water and sugar in a pot. Cook it for about 5 minutes.

- Remove to pot form the stove and let it cool down a bit.

- Beat the egg yolks along with the cornstarch.

- Incorporate the yolks to the pot and stir rapidly so that they don't get cooked before you have mixed them in.

- Cook this mix at very low temperature until it thickens, stirring often so that the bottom does not get burnt.

- Let it cool down to room temperature.

Step 5: Sweetened Whipped Cream Filling

- Whip the cream and add the sugar at the end.

- Divide the whipped cream into two bowls: 2/3 for one layer of the filling and the coating; 1/3 for the chocolate layer of the filling.

- Add the powdered cocoa to the 1/3 of the whipped cream.

- Keep both bowls in the fridge until you assemble the cake.

Step 6: Assembling the Cake

In order to get a perfect flat top, I flip the sponge cake upside down to change the order of the layers. Like this, the uneven top surface is now touching the dish and the flat bottom surface of the sponge cake is the one on top.

I like to put the sides of the springform mould I baked the cake in around the cake while assembling it. Like this the layers will remain aligned and no cream will fall down the sides, but the main reason why I do it is because you can gently push the cake layer to distribute and level the cream beneath it, making sure that it has the same thickness and has no air gaps.

- Put the first layer of the sponge cake on the dish and soak it with the syrup.

- Put all the chocolate cream on top.

- Put the middle layer of the sponge cake. Push it downwards to level the previous cream layer. Soak it with the syrup.

- Put half of the white cream on top.

- Put the last layer of sponge cake. Push it downwards to level the previous cream layer. Soak it with the syrup.

- Cover the top with the toasted yolk.

- Remove the mould and cover the sides with the rest of the whipped cream. You can also put sliced or chopped almonds on the sides to add a crunchy texture to the cake.

- Dust some caster sugar on top. If you want, you can also toast this sugar with a kitchen blowtorch or spray a little vodka on top and flambe it.

Step 7: Enjoy

I know that it may seem like a lot of work for such a simple cake, but once you try it you will love it.

I give you a 100% guarantee that your favourite part will be the yolk topping!

Saint Mark Cake (12th Century Recipe) (5)

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Saint Mark Cake (12th Century Recipe) (2024)


What was the first cake ever made? ›

The earliest cakes were very different from the cakes we know today. They were more like bread and were sometimes even savory. The first mention of cake dates back to the 4th century BC when a Greek writer mentioned a cake made with honey and wheat flour.

What kind of cake is leavened with beaten eggs? ›

Foam Cakes, on the other hand, contain little to no fat or leaving agents. Instead, they are leavened by the air that is beaten into whole eggs or egg whites. Also known as unshortened cakes, Foam Cakes are light, airy, and spongey.

When was the first chocolate cake made? ›

In 1886, American cooks began adding chocolate to the cake batter to make the first chocolate cakes in the US.

Why is cake called cake? ›

The word itself is of Viking origin, from the Old Norse word "kaka". The ancient Greeks called cake πλακοῦς (plakous), which was derived from the word for "flat", πλακόεις (plakoeis). It was baked using flour mixed with eggs, milk, nuts, and honey. They also had a cake called "satura", which was a flat, heavy cake.

How old is the oldest cake in the world? ›

The Alimentarium Food Museum in Vevey, Switzerland has on display the worlds oldest cake, which was sealed and vacuum-packed in the grave of Pepionkh, who lived in Ancient Egypt around 2200 BC.

Who invented 1st cake? ›

The first cakes were very different from what we eat today. They were more bread-like and sweetened with honey. Nuts and dried fruits were often added. According to the food historians, the ancient Egyptians were the first culture to show evidence of advanced baking skills.

What is a cake without cream called? ›

Oil Cake. Oil cakes follow the same principles as butter cakes, but use oil as the source of fat. Because oil is liquid at room temperature, oil cake recipes skip the step of creaming the fat and sugar; usually the oil is incorporated into the wet ingredients, which are whisked or folded into the dry ingredients.

What is a cake without icing called? ›

A naked cake is easily recognized by its absent or minimal outer layer of frosting, which shows off the cake's natural texture and filling. Some naked cakes have zero frosting on their outer edge, while others have just a wisp of buttercream. Copy link CC BY-SA 4.0. edited Jun 25, 2020 at 8:27.

Should you beat eggs before adding to cake mix? ›

Martina says, “Late in the mixing stage, eggs will incorporate better if you lightly beat them before adding to the batter. The finished cake may be slightly shorter than expected, but its flavor and tenderness shouldn't be affected.” For egg-leavened cakes, the eggs are crucial.

What was the original birthday cake? ›

Germany introduced a birthday cake during the 15th century at the festival Kinderfest, which was a celebration of children's birthdays. The cakes during this time were bread-like and very coarse. Sweeter cakes did not come about in this area until much later.

Who was the first person to have a birthday cake? ›

The Germans were the first to start the birthday cake celebration tradition. During the 18th century, they participated in a celebration called Kinderfeste. Kinderfeste was a party to celebrate a child's day of birth. These cakes were bread-like products with the same texture and likeness as a muffin.

When was the first Christmas cake? ›

Christmas cake is a long standing tradition that started all of the way back in the 16th century! This tradition has been carried through families from all over the world and has many variations depending on the recipes that have been passed down over the years.

Which country invented cake? ›

The invention of cake originated in ancient Egypt as round, flat, unleavened breads that were cooked on a hot stone. The evolution of baked goods continued over many centuries through the introduction of new ingredients and the invention of new techniques of baking.

Why is cheesecake called cake and not pie? ›

By Merriam-Webster's definition, cake is a bread-like dessert that's baked from a thick batter. And cheesecake's qualities don't fit that bill. On the other hand, while cheesecake is closer to a pie given its crust and filling structure, it doesn't quite fit alongside those types of flaky desserts either.

When was the first cake made and where? ›

The invention of cake originated in ancient Egypt as round, flat, unleavened breads that were cooked on a hot stone. The evolution of baked goods continued over many centuries through the introduction of new ingredients and the invention of new techniques of baking.

Did cake exist in the 1800s? ›

Velvet cakes first came into existence during the Victorian Era. It was during the 1800's that recipes would frequently call for the use of cocoa for luxury cakes. They would call the cakes "velvet" cakes and serve them at fancy dessert parties.

Who was the first person to bake? ›

By 2600 bce the Egyptians, credited with the first intentional use of leavening, were making bread by methods similar in principle to those of today. They maintained stocks of sour dough, a crude culture of desirable fermentation organisms, and used portions of this material to inoculate fresh doughs.

What was the first king cake? ›

The popular custom of baking a special cake in honor of the three kings started in France, approximately 300 years ago. The French-style almond puff pastry, Galette des Rois, is traditionally filled with a bean rather than a plastic baby.


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