Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

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torte, the German word for gâteau or cake, typically designates a festive, fancy, round concoction, usually multilayered and filled. It thus stands in contrast to the French tarte (thin and mostly involving fruit of some kind) and German Kuchen, a simpler affair. See kuchen and tart. In Germany today, Torten are often composed of several sponge cake layers (sometimes sitting on a thin shortcrust base) spread with buttercream or whipped cream, or some variation of them. See cream and sponge cake. Glazed with cream or jam (or both), or coated with a thin sheet of marzipan, they are typically garnished with chocolate sprinkles, fruit, nuts, or small marzipan figures. See marzipan and sprinkles. Comparable American-style cakes typically involve much more sweet icing or frosting. See icing. Some French gâteaux, for example the Opéra, bear some similarity to Torten; however, the French term is much looser in meaning and may refer to a wide variety of pastries. The most popular and best-known tortes are arguably the Hungarian Dobos torte (multiple thin sponge cake layers alternating with chocolate buttercream and topped with caramel) and German Black Forest cake. The Austrian Linzer torte is somewhat atypical, resembling a tart more than a cake, and the Viennese Sachertorte consists of a chocolate cake spread with apricot jam and glazed with chocolate icing. See black forest cake; dobos torte; linzer torte; and sachertorte.