Recipes: Portuguese Carob Almond Cake + Portugal Retreat

Last month, I traveled to Portugal for the first time. I knew even before the plane had landed that the trip ahead held magic and significance for me. Flying over Lisbon, I could feel that mix of curious excitement and assuredness that where I was heading was exactly where I needed to be. And it was. There are few places in the world where I’ve arrived and let out a huge sigh of relief, a deep soul exhale. Kauai was the first time I’d experienced that exhale of coming home, and Portugal the second.

My maternal lineage, the Santos family, is Portuguese. From the Azores, they sailed from these little islands in the middle of the Atlantic to another set of little islands in the middle of the Pacific – the Hawaiian islands. I knew very little of this part of my heritage growing up. But last year, on my birthday, I flew into Oahu to embark on a new chapter of island life. And this year, I spent a week road-tripping around mainland Portugal, falling in love with every inch of the country and getting to know parts of myself through this deeper memory of lineage and land. Like my undying love affair with cinnamon and it being my secret ingredient in all my favorite dishes, but more on that later…

I’m finding that, each year, I grow wiser in understanding who we are is rarely independently shaped. And these deeper questions about who I am and where I came from have led me to lands where I have roots and history that my conscious mind knew nothing about. I find the more I travel, the more I’m drawn to places my ancestors had been, and I find myself wondering how much are we shaped by those walked before us? Maya Tiwari, in her book The Path to Practice talks about cellular memory and healing our bodies and minds through honoring our ancestral lineage. There’s something to be said about invoking cultural traditions and celebrating them in your own life.

With this, I’m very excited to announce that in October 2018, I’m hosting a retreat on the beautiful coastal Algarve region of southern Portugal to dig into a week gathering, merging local culture and rich food traditions with my love of the Vedic sciences. Through daily yoga classes, Ayurvedic workshops, excursions to olive farms, hands-on cooking classes, and adventures to the sea, we’ll explore that space where wellbeing emerges from slowing down, connecting with community and the land, and being nourished both inside and out. Email for more details and explore more online here.

To celebrate both the announcement of this upcoming adventure and my 29th birthday, I baked a cake. But not just any cake, a cake inspired by my slow afternoons in the Algarve snacking on tarte de alfarroba and sipping tea. This rich fig, carob and almond cake is a native recipe to the South, where carob trees are as abundant as the olives and cork oaks. Fall is fig season, so the harvest of fresh figs means there’s jam and cakes for days. This cake is dense and textured, with the earthy flavors of the carob balanced by spiced with a hearty dose of cinnamon. All of my favorite things! I can’t wait to share more with you in Portugal next fall…


1 cup oat flour
1 cup coconut sugar
1 cup carob powder
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
¾ cup roughly ground almonds
4 eggs, whisked
½ cup olive oil
1 cup fig puree, (about 10-12 soaked figs & blended into a paste)
1 orange, juiced & zested
1 tbsp maple syrup

In a bowl, combine the dried figs and soak overnight in filtered water until the figs are tender and rehydrated. Drain and rinse. Transfer to a blender and puree into a thick paste. If it is too thick to blend, add a splash of water, just enough to soften it until it blends. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350F.  In a large mixing bowl, sift the flour, sugar, carob, baking powder, cinnamon and salt together into a fine flour. Mix in the rolled oats and ground almonds. In a separate smaller bowl, whisk the eggs until light. Continue whisking the olive oil and orange juice into the liquid mixture. Next, fold the liquid into the bowl of flour. Add the orange zest, maple and fig puree. Fold together until fully combined. Pour into a greased spring-form cake pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until slightly firm but still moist. Remove from oven, allow to cool before removing from the pan. Serve with a dusting of carob and cinnamon on top.

Makes one 9-inch cake


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21 responses to “Recipes: Portuguese Carob Almond Cake + Portugal Retreat”

  1. Portugal is a wonderfull place! I wish you the best.:D

    P.S.: Come and meet Coimbra.

    Another Lovely Blog!,

    • Angie Benenati says:

      We just returned from two amazing weeks in Portugal and had this pie at a restaurant in Lagos. One bite and I fell in love and knew I had to make it at home! They told me one of the ingredients was “sweet pumpkin” along with almonds, figs and carob. Do you know of this? Just wondering- but I will definitely make yours soon!

  2. Danae says:

    Thank you for this amazing post! Soulrememberance – connects us beyond time and space – it might be the resonance of the soil, the way the light streams of an old fountain… and suddendly a deeper memory unfolds. Wonderful and thank you for all the posts and work you do. Blessings.

  3. Lynne Thornburg says:

    Do I add the oatmeal to the ‘fine flour’ I’ve made by sifting all the other dry ingredients?

    • Lilli says:

      Hey Lynne,
      Did you get a reply? I was looking at this recipe and was wondering where I add the oatmeal! (I’m also Australian?
      So wanted to check – what is meant my oatmeal …fine oats…what we call quick oats maybe). Anyways, I’m soaking the figs to make it tomorrow 🙂

      • Hey Lynne & Lilli! My apologies here, oatmeal was a total typo I never caught in this post. Oh my! I’ve updated the recipe with the correct info and timing. Oatmeal = whole rolled oats. Add in after you sift the flour and dry ingredients.

  4. Melissa says:

    I had a cake with carob and figs in Lisbon recently. The top had more of a fig appearance- can i send a picture?

    • Oh yes, there are so many incredible cake combinations like this in Portugal. You can try making a fig compote and spreading it on top after cooking this cake! Or even try layering fresh figs into the bottom before baking, think a pineapple upside down cake. I’m going to give these a try as well. Feel free to send me a picture as well!

  5. Saskia says:

    Hi Claire

    While eating eating almond and fig cake in Sagres in the Algarve I found your recipe. Thank you! I will make it once home for sure! . The Portuguese kitchen as well as the countryis impressing me more, loving it. My ex neighbour, originally from Portugal, gave me a recipe for Portuguese chicken. Very tasty and soften the chicken in a beautiful way..

    Also enjoy reading your blog…

  6. jassuncao says:

    I am Portuguese and I just came across your blog through “ONE GREEN PLANET”website.
    I live in Canada and going to Portugal regularly, alternating my trips between the mane land the Azores`s Islands, particularly Sao Miguel Island. A natural and pure beauty.
    I can confime that the region of ALGARVE is known for it`s abundance on almonds [amendoas] and carob {alfarroba].
    I would love to make the Portuguese Carob and Almond Cake of yours, but….can I replace the eggs for another binding product? like a vegan egg.

    • Hello! Yes you can try making a flax egg, which is typically 1-2 tbsp flax meal in a 1/4 cup of water. I have not tested it yet with this variation but have used flax eggs as binders in many other baking recipes before with good success. Let me know how it works!

  7. Dawn MORWOOD says:

    Where do you add the almonds? Also did you use uk cups or USA? It’s easier if recipes are in grams so it makes baking a cake correct. Thank you

    • Hi Dawn! All measurements are in US cups. I should add the grams as well in the future, thanks for the suggestion! For the almonds, you’ll add these in when you fold in the oats after the flour has been sifted.

  8. Nita says:

    Absolutely Yum! I just made this and wanted to eat the whole thing. Both my husband & I went back for a 2nd slice straight away & several hours later I keep thinking about this cake & where I can source the main ingredients cheaper so I can make this more often. Thanks for sharing this!

  9. Helen says:

    Hi – this looks delicious but could you confirm measurements in grams also?

  10. Lisa says:

    What a wonderful post! I love your writing style, and this cake sounds delicious. So happy to have found your blog after your cooking class at The Shakti School yesterday – I can’t wait to read your book!

  11. Niki says:

    Wow I can’t wait to make this cake! I am currently living in the Algarve and wondering if you plan another trip here soon?

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