I’m still trying to figure out what, exactly, constitutes a torte.
Based on this recipe and the flourless chocolate torte one that I previously made, I gather that it’s basically a cake with no filling or icing. And that’s fine with me. You know why?
Because… I think I’m getting old. Or at least, my taste buds are.
I have always, always had a sweet tooth. I always considered the icing to be the best part of the cake – I’d fight tooth and nail to secure the corner piece of a sheet cake. But not anymore.
These days, I favour a “less is more” approach when it comes to frostings. If less is more, does that mean that none is most? (Now we’re getting deep.)
This torte was great and satisfied my maturing sweet-but-not-too-sweet tooth. The best part: the “quick and easy” part of the recipe title proves true. The cake part (torte part?) is plain, but in a nice way – it grabs on to the flavour of whatever fruit you use. I used the stone fruits and berries that they use in the recipe (peaches, plums, cherries, raspberries, and blackberries), but the Bobbette & Belle cookbook authors say that you can use whatever is in season. They suggest an autumn alternative with apples… mmmmm. I picked all my fruits up at the Whistler Farmer’s Market.
Because the cakey bit is simple, I recommend not cheaping out on the ingredients – make sure your spices (modest amounts of cinnamon and nutmeg) are fresh your vanilla is real. The rest of the torte calls for your standard pantry ingredients (all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt, sugar) plus whole milk, sour cream, unsalted butter, and a couple of eggs.
I followed the directions exactly as written, and it all went very well with one exception: the sixth and final step. This step instructs you to bake the cake for 45 minutes after having layered on the fruit slices (i.e., the peaches, cherries, and plums), then adding the berries and baking for an extra 15 minutes, “until the batter that has risen to the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the batter comes out clean.”
At the designated time, I pulled out the cake pan – and then put it right back in the oven, because the top was very pale and very jiggly. I waited five more minutes… then five more… then another five… and several more after that. I must have added a good half an hour to the baking time (I lost count!), which is not insubstantial. This is notable for two reasons:
- Adding the berries 10 minutes from the end of cooking ensures they set into the batter without becoming mush. In my case, they ended up going in a good 40 minutes from the end of cooking, which resulted in a rather sad and soggy looking torte top.
- This is not my first time encountering this issue with the cookbook – their baked recipes often require a lot more time in the oven than suggested, even for something as simple as cookies. I’m quite certain it’s not my oven, because my other recipes (including all of my bread recipes) cook within directed times.
So my torte was a little ugly – no big deal. Before serving, I just piled it with some more fresh fruit. Voila – sins absolved.
One thing that I love about this recipe was that it could be made in advanced. I baked it on a Wednesday evening, then wrapped it in plastic wrap then tin foil and kept it in the fridge. I took it out a few hours before eating it two nights later. I served it with vanilla gelato from Lucia Gelato – a killer combo, for sure.
Now, the taste: I loved it. The cake/torte bit is dense without being heavy. As I mentioned, it really takes to the flavours of the fruits. A plummy bite tasted slightly sour, whereas a bite with a cherry in it had almondy undertones. It was just light enough and not overly sweet (see: opening vignette) and made the perfect nightcap to the BBQ we hosted with friends.
I’m going to start allowing myself a little extra baking time with my Bobbette & Belle recipes from hereon out, but it’s safe to say that I’m officially a big fan of tortes. If I were a baking trendsetter, this is where I would announce that tortes will be the Next Big Thing (think naked cakes, macarons, and unicorn things).
I’ll close off with the definition of torte: “a sweet cake or tart”. Tortes are evidently squatter and use less flour than a cake. There you go.