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Torte


itch22
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I know this is an embaressingly simple question, but what is the technical definition of a torte? I have seen countless recipes, ranging from frozen to baked. The only common thread is the presence of nuts. I checked my Larousse and there is no entry for Torte.

-- Jason

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After checking culinary dictionaries and thesauruses, I too came up with the same thing over and over:

Pronunciation: 'tort-&, 'tort

Function: noun

Inflected Form(s): plural tor·ten  /'tor-t&n/; or tortes

Etymology: German, probably from Italian torta cake, from Late Latin, round loaf of bread

: a cake made with many eggs and often grated nuts or dry bread crumbs and usually covered with a rich frosting

oh, and it is from Austria originally ... :rolleyes: nothing spectacular ... :hmmm:

torte

[TOHRT]

A rich cake, often made with little or no flour but instead with ground nuts or bread crumbs, eggs, sugar and flavorings. Tortes are often multilayered and filled with BUTTERCREAM, jams, etc.

© Copyright Barron's Educational Services, Inc. 1995 based on THE FOOD LOVER'S COMPANION, 2nd edition, by Sharon Tyler Herbst.

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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I have found that even if you're "backed up" with an "official definition", it's lost on a lot of people. I've seen so many regular type layered cakes marked as "tortes" simply because

the baker wanted to market it with a fancier name. Fancy sells better, and it's a great reason

to sell it at a higher price.

People also frequently mix up the terms "torte" and "tart" (not so much pros, but the "common man"). They'll say, "I had this great pear almond torte in Michigan, can you make one?" And I'm thinking "Did they really mean "torte"?" Pear almond tarts are much more common. So I have to quiz the customer.....what did it look like? Was it flat? Was it tall? And they'll end up describing a tart. Then I gently try to educate them without making them feel stupid, but they don't care.

They come back to me a few months later and say, "Could you make that pear almond torte again?"

:wacko::wacko::wacko::wacko::wacko:

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I think it depends on who you talk to. I was told in culinary school that a "torte" was any cake that consisted of 3 or more layers, where a cake was only 2 layers ( the typical Betty Crocker stereotype, where you bake 2 cakes and frost them together to get what Americans would associate as a " cake")

BUT, I have also heard that "torte " is used if it makes the dessert sound better. Carrot cake sounds more appealing and familiar than carrot torte, while hazelnut torte is more appealing than hazelnut cake, even if it is only 2 layers.

Jason

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And I was told in culinary school, after giving the definition of a torte as a cake where all or part of the flour was replaced by ground nuts and/or bread crumbs, that a torte was, quite simply and elegantly, a dessert made from cake.

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In German, a "Torte" is invariably a cake of cylindric shape (see: tortilla) and mostly, dough is the minor part compared to a (often layered) filling (but alas, a filling is not mandatory: "carrot torte"). Usually, a torte has a coating and some decoration.

In German, a torte is always a finer piece of pastry than a simple kuchen (cake), which can also be a general expression for many variants (torte, stollen, gugelhupf, cake (sic!), roulade, ...)

All questions answered? :wink:

Make it as simple as possible, but not simpler.

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I have a clipping from the The New York Times Magazine from 1980 of Laura Brody’s chocolate cherry torte which Craig Claiborne and Pierre Franey preambled with the following that might just shed some light on the definition of “torte”:

“Contrary to what many people seem to believe, the difference betwen a European style torte and an American cake is more than just semantics. While a torte is certainly a cake, a cake is not necessarily a torte. Basically, a torte is a cake - generally German, Austrian or French - in which part or all of the flour is replaced by fine, fresh bread crumbs and finely ground nuts. A standard cake in this country has a somewhat grainy texture, or “crumb,” while a torte has a fairly firm yet moist texture.”

I have been following the recipe by the way this last 24 years, and its is a marvellous chocolate torte filled with sour cherries topped with a layer of marzipan and glazed with shiny dark chocolate.

Apicio

Gato ming gato miao busca la vida para comer

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I think a lot of terms have been over stretched due to there familiar sound in which are used to catch a customers eye, even if the dessert labeled doesn't exactly fit it's label professionally. That's why i beleive it's so hard for many of us today to get an exact meaning of a term because we have our common knowledge and exact definition in which it was meant to be.

An example:

In R.L. Beranbaum's "Cake Bible" she has a recipe for a "mousseline buttermcream" in which is exactly a swiss buttercream but made with italian meringue instead of swiss meringue,(kind of twisted around, but still is very good recipe) She probably couldn't call it Italian or Swiss buttercream so instead through the mousseline. I often thought this odd and did some research. Apparently if sometheing were to be "mousseline" by definition it has to have a little more than meringue and butter... preferably whipped cream. But of course this is sort of an exaggerated label that sounds good and doesn't affend anyone, so it works. I have a few pastry chef colleagues that didn't like it at all but to me it's not that big of a deal.

So im sure you'd be safe with calling something a "torte" if it's atleast 70%of it's classic definition. In which I like Gifted gourmets second definition the most.

Dean Anthony Anderson

"If all you have to eat is an egg, you had better know how to cook it properly" ~ Herve This

Pastry Chef: One If By Land Two If By Sea

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Without dragging out my books for some exact quotes..........I've seen countless examples of single layer cakes being called a "torte" when they didn't contain nuts or layers. (Doesn't Alice Medrich do that?)

Guilty, I've reached the point of using the word pretty loosely as I've seen it done in countless books. I use 'torte' and 'cake' interchangeably.

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I am so glad you asked this question. I have from time to time over the last couple of months had this imponderable float past, clouding my consciousness, but thinking it must be something simple that I had failed somehow to absorb here over the past couple of years. I am pleased to now have a crystal clear definition, and will feel free to join in and call anything I want to a torte. :wink:

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