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What’s in a name? Cake, Gateau or Torte- Plum Torte with Cardamom Cream

Sippity Sup's Plum Torte

What’s in a name? Well in the case of cakes, gateaux and tortes. Name is mostly about perception. Add to that fact the tendency of most cooks to categorize recipes as a means of defining them quickly. It is further confused by the fact that we bloggers tend to throw words around a bit irresponsibly. Me included.

Let’s start at the beginning. Let’s start with perception. Standing at the bakery counter you might not notice much difference between a cake, a gateau and a torte. So is there a difference?

First, cake. We all know what cake is. It’s sweet, it’s round and it is de rigueur in commemorating special events, most notably birthdays and weddings. Few desserts are as lovingly embraced as a really good cake, perhaps because cutting a cake is such a potent ceremonial moment.

However, the terms gateau and torte are more complicated. Partly because they are foreign words (to we English speakers) and partly because we cooks have played fast and loose with names in general for centuries.