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A raspberry torte is a dense cake-like dessert that is made with little to no flour, in most cases. Tortes originated in Germany, and traditional recipes call for ground nut meal as the primary binding ingredient. When raspberries are added, usually to the filling, the dessert becomes a raspberry torte. Modern cooks use the term “torte” more loosely than their German predecessors, commonly applying it to a wide range of fancy or particularly rich desserts. As such, what a raspberry torte actually is can vary tremendously from bakery to bakery.
According to traditional recipes, a raspberry torte is a nut-based cake with raspberry flavor woven in. It is usually made with the meal from ground almonds or hazelnuts. This meal is added to eggs, butter, milk, and sugar to create a batter, which is then poured in shallow round pans and baked. Raspberries are either added to the center of the dessert or used as a garnish on top.
There are two primary ways of making a raspberry torte. First, the batter can be poured into a shallow spring-form pan and used as something of a crust. Depending on how wet the batter is, it can be pressed against the pan walls much as a pie crust would be. On top of this crust, cooks pour a raspberry compote that serves as the main filling, reminiscent of a raspberry tart. Once baked, however, the cake pan’s sides are removed, and the torte looks more like an open cake.
The filling used in this sort of torte is often a combination of raspberries, sugar, and a binding agent like butter. Cooking with raspberries is usually easy, but the fruit needs to be encased in some form of liquid in order to set properly during baking. Adding raw berries alone often leads to drying and scorching.
A second method involves a wetter batter that is baked into thin rounds. These rounds are designed to be stacked on top of each other to form a taller, more substantial dessert. This sort of torte becomes a raspberry torte when cooks add raspberry filling or raspberry jam to the layer between the rounds.
In Central Europe, particularly Germany and Austria, there are a number of strict berry torte recipes. Elsewhere, however, the title has become somewhat amorphous. Cooks will frequently use the “raspberry torte” designation to describe any particularly dense or rich raspberry cake.
Just the same, desserts beating the torte name usually share some similarities in spite of their different compositions. They are almost always frosted, for instance, usually with a hard icing or fondant to create a uniform, smooth appearance. It is common to decorate the top with intricate sugar lattices or designs, and to use fruit that is either fresh or candied as a garnish.
Tortes are almost always very dense, as well. This often means that they have less flour than traditional cake recipes. Sometimes the density owes only to extra butter in the recipe, however, or extra layers added in. Raspberries are almost always featured on both the inside and the top of the dessert.