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Tart versus torte, vocabulary


Ellen Shapiro
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I'm holding in my hands a recipe from the December Gourmet for a "chocolate hazelnut tart." I made it the other day. It involves baking a graham cracker crumb crust in the bottom of a springform pan (no sides -- just a bottom layer of crust) and then pouring in a large quantity of melted chocolate-cream-hazelnut mixture and then cooling it in the refrigerator. Simple and tasty. But is it a tart?

I thought a tart had to have a pastry crust and sides, and you filled it with something. A torte, I thought, was where you make a flourless or very-little-flour cakelike thing. So wouldn't the above be a "chocolate hazelnut torte"? What am I missing?

Ellen Shapiro

www.byellen.com

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Your question made me wonder - I never had thought about the difference before - I "stole" the following definitions off of the epicurious.com dictionary site.

tart

n.  Very simply, a tart is a pastry crust with shallow sides, a filling and no top crust. The filling can be sweet (such as fruit or sweet custard) or savory (like meat, cheese or savory custard). Depending on the type of tart, the pastry shell can be baked and then filled, or filled and then baked. Tarts can be bite-sized (often served as HORS D'OEUVRE), individual-sized (sometimes called tartlets ) or full-sized.

torte

n. A rich cake, often made with little or no flour but instead with ground nuts or bread crumbs, eggs, sugar and flavorings.

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Ii think Della's definition is the more general traditional definition of a torte; some but not all tortes are multilayered. (Most of the tortes you would see in a bakery or at a restaurant would tend to be multilayerd, while many homemade Austrian and Hungarian tortes are single-layered). But both will all have little flour, nuts or bread crumbs and eggs (often divided, with the whites whipped) as part of the cake base.

Also, a typical multilayerd American Southern Cake is not really a torte but is something different and it's own thing. I think the definition is used rather loosely sometime nowadays though.

I think the dessert that Ellen describes does not fall neatly into either a classical "tart" or a "torte". Tortes may have different layers but more in the vein of baking a cake or multiple cake layers, and then splitting and filling the layers, jam, buttercream, nut filling, whipped cream, etc.

To me the described dessert is *more* like a tart, but as mentioned, tarts usually have sides... Also, usually tarts don't have a graham cracker base--so maybe it a "pie" or a "no-bake bar" made in a round form... :raz:

In any case, most importantly, I'm glad that it tasted good!

Edited by ludja (log)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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It looks like French tourtes and Italian torte fit the definition of tarts, rather than tortes (at least most of the time). They have cross-hatching on top, if any crust at all, and are filled with some kind of fruit or vegetable mixture. So I think that helps perpetuate confusion of terms.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Yeah, and I was just remembering "Linzer Torte" (a nut crust filled with jam and a lattice nut crust on top)--not really similar to my discussion or the dictionary definition of "torte" above except that there are nuts in the dough. So there are exceptions to the general definition...

I'm probably biased b/c of my Austrian roots--in which the German word "torte" is used... So I think of German/Austrian/Hungarian layered (often) cakes (and with nuts or bread crumbs (often) as tortes. Separately I think of American layer cakes, French Gateaux, Dacquoise, Bavarians, etc...

Edited by ludja (log)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=59511

I dont want to write all the same stuff that we discussed a few months ago so heres a link to a "torte" definition we argued over earlier. What you have is a tart by broad classification. Much closer to tart than torte. And for the record a torte shouldn't be mistaken for a layered cake. Thats just the overused american label.

Edited by chiantiglace (log)

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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See, I probably would have called Ellen's desserts a tart. What do I know?

What about the layered desserts that have cake-like or pastry layers that ARE made with flour? (I'm thinking of things like Cinnamon Torte that is basically 6-8 layers of a cinnamon flavoured biscuit-round layers with cream - and there are many of those) What are those called?

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you can get away with calling a lot of things torte's these days. It's just not the proper definition. Quite honestly you could make up your own name and be just as correct or "proper". Most are simple "individual layered pastries". As long as they have chocolate, nuts and or biscuit you can rest easy on the name "torte". But if something is made with, I dont know.... Cinnamon Chibouste, chocolate genoise and covered in rolled fondant, even if its multiple layers its not a true torte, just a layered cake in idividual portions.

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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you can get away with calling a lot of things torte's these days.  It's just not the proper definition.  Quite honestly you could make up your own name and be just as correct or "proper".  Most are simple "individual layered pastries".  As long as they have chocolate, nuts and or biscuit you can rest easy on the name "torte".  But if something is made with, I dont know....  Cinnamon Chibouste, chocolate genoise and covered in rolled fondant, even if its multiple layers its not a true torte, just a layered cake in idividual portions.

So I should consider myself lucky that not a one of my customers would know that my Fondant covered multi-layered cinnamon chibouste, chocolate genoise torte isn't really a torte and just continue on? :wink:

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I thought a tart had to have a pastry crust and sides, and you filled it with something. A torte, I thought, was where you make a flourless or very-little-flour cakelike thing. So wouldn't the above be a "chocolate hazelnut torte"? What am I missing?

According to the CIA Baking and Pastry - Mastering the Art and Craft,

a Tart is "a shallow, usually open-faced pastry shell with filling"

a Torte is "the German word for Cake. It can be multilayered or a single, dense layer."

I've always questioned why a linzertorte is not a linzertart too...It looks more like a tart than a torte

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