The Difference Between a Torte and a Tart

Delicious homemade honey cake on stand
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A torte, from the Italian word torta, meaning "cake," is a multilayered dessert or savory food item. Dessert tortes can be filled with cream, mousse, jams, and other fillings. 

A tart is something else entirely. A tart is only about 1 inch high, it starts with a thin pastry crust dough that is patted into a pan and then filled. Just like there are savory and dessert tortes, there are also savory and dessert tarts.

Torte Layers

A dessert torte is usually made with layers of sponge cake that get its characteristic light and airy crumb from egg yolks, sugar, and stiffly beaten egg whites, but no shortening. Savory tortes typically start with crepes or other thin pancakes.

Torte Fillings

Dessert tortes can be filled with buttercreams, mousses, jams, sweetened nut pastes, meringues, and anything you can imagine added between cake layers. Savory tortes are filled with creamed meat mixtures, roasted vegetables, cheeses, and more.

Dessert Torte Recipes

Some of the most well-known tortes are Austrian, German, and Hungarian in origin. Take a look at a few popular Hungarian torte recipes.

  • Hungarian Walnut Torte: Known as dios torta in Hungarian, this decadent three-layer torte is made with a walnut sponge and chocolate buttercream.
  • Hungarian Esterhazy TorteThis rich dessert is another example of Austro-Hungarian baking at its finest. It's made with almond flour sponge cake and chocolate buttercream.
  • Hungarian Dobosh Torte: Known as dobos torta in Hungarian, this classic rich dessert with a crunchy caramel top is time-consuming to make but worth the effort.

Savory Torte Recipes

You can stack just about anything in a springform pan. For example, a lasagna torte, which is already traditionally made up of layers, can instead be layered in a round springform pan and once prepared, you can cut pieces in wedges like you would a cake.

Tarts

The French word tarte can be translated to mean either pie or tart, as both are mainly the same. The big difference is that a pie usually has pastry covering the filling. A tart is an open-faced pie. A tartlet is a miniature tart. Savory tarts are filled with meats, cheeses, and vegetables. 

Dessert Tart Recipes

Tarts do not have layers. Instead, dessert tarts are filled with a single layer of fruit, custards, and/or flavored creams. 

  • Vanilla Custard Fruit Tart: This delicious treat is made with a sweet, crumbly crust filled with velvety smooth vanilla custard, all topped with ripe, juicy fruit.

Savory Tart Recipes

Savory tarts include quiches, which are savory tarts with a mostly egg custard and cheese filling. 

  • Leek and Potato Tart: Again, a pie crust or pastry crust is filled with leeks, potatoes and Gruyère cheese for a great main course or brunch dish.