Cakes and Tarts

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

Cakes and tarts are not distinct categories in Italy, as they are in the United States; the word torta may refer to either. Few cakes are topped with icing but are instead moistened with liqueur syrups. Italian tarts are generally made with less filling and incorporate the crust into the filling for a cake-like texture. For this reason, most of Italy’s tarts actually taste better the day after baking, once the filling has had a chance to be absorbed into the crust. Fillings include not only fruits and nuts but also vegetables, such as Tuscany’s torta co’ bischeri agli spinaci, with a ground-almond and spinach filling, and scarpaccia, with its sugar-sweetened zucchini filling. While fresh fruit does occasionally serve as a filling, jam and reduced fruit are more common.