The Skinny on Tortes - Grampies Track the Tortes (2019) - CycleBlaze

February 18, 2019

The Skinny on Tortes

The Wikipedia article on tortes describes them mostly as layer cakes, usually with quite a few layers. That alone would distinguish them from simple double layered birthday cakes. In my mind there is an additional requirement that they rely more on powdered nuts than flour, and the layers should be filled with jam. But definition is hard, and all sorts of cakes can claim to be "tortes". In fact, in Poland, Ukraine, and Russia "tort" (Polish) and cake are basically the same thing.

Tortes came into our lives first in Montreal. That is not surprising, since our lives came into our lives in Montreal. But once married, and with baby Joni in a backpack, we would go for long walks downtown. Preferably this would be after store hours, since we had no money to buy anything. We made an exception, though, for the Hungarian Cafe on Mountain Street. Here we would shell out for torte and the as yet un-Starbuckized cappucino. Baby Joni, meanwhile, liked their liver dumpling soup.

The two tortes we enjoyed most were from countries more to the east than our current planned tour.  There was the giant white layer cake - the White Russian. And the low rise but powerful Hungarian  "Ludlab Torte", which was more chocolate than any brownie.

These early torte experiences lay dormant for some years, until we moved near to Victoria, British Columbia. There, on Fort Street, was (and still is) the Dutch Bakery.  Dutch baking is not very remarkable, but I was always interested in the marzipan and cream rolled "Dollar Roll". As an economist I tracked the cost of the dollar roll, looking on with dismay as its cost zoomed well past a dollar!

But the thing that most tweaked my interest was the "Sacher Torte". This chocolate bomb had layers of chocolate cake separated by apricot jam and with a most chocolaty chocolate icing.  I slowly became aware that this torte came from some hotel in Austria, and that the whole thing was world famous. There were supposedly other versions of Sacher Torte, and some fight over the recipe and trademark. But actually, at the time I could only vaguely locate Austria on a map, let alone some specific city or hotel.

Sacher Torte lay dormant in my psyche, along with the Hungarian ones, until I wandered with Dodie's dad into a food fair in Bankok. There on offer was "Sacher Torte", and it was great. I then deduced that this torte had appeared because of the large number of German tourists that visit the town.  So now Germany, Austria, Hungary, Russia were rubbing elbows in the "torte" compartment of my brain, and I came to the easy conclusion that this was the go to region for tortes. Well duh.

The first chance to act on this amazing deduction was in 2012, when we cycled in Austria. In Salzburg we came upon the Sacher Hotel (a branch of the Vienna one) and paid big euros for small torte slices. Actually, it was better in Bankok!  Many kinds of torte popped up in Vienna, but of course it is not possible to sample more than a couple in a day!

So we (ok, I) left with the idea that torte research was not complete. Now is the  time for another helping. Our route will take us to Linz, home of the Linzer Torte, back to Vienna - where we can search out original but also clone and possibly superior Sachers - plus many others, and through Bavaria - home of the Prinzregententorte. And with some luck we might find  a stray Hungarian Dobos Torte - maybe in Czech.

We have often thought about themed cycle tours - like a cheese tour of France (going to Brie for Brie and Pont l'Évêque for Pont l'Évêque, etc.), or a beer tour of Belgium (if we liked beer). Here we have Linzertorte as a thin excuse for going to Linz, and the eternal chocolate draw of the Sacher Torte!

Here is a gallery of tortes we are targeting. Each one has some weighty wquestion worth investigating!

Sacher Torte - so famous, but is it truly the greatest?
Heart 0 Comment 2
Wendy BeaudoinWe thought the Sacher Torte in Vienna was quite a disappointment and ridiculously expensive because it's in all the guidebooks. We'll be following your trip to see what you find.
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4 months ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Wendy BeaudoinYes, agreed. At the Sacher Hotel it was dry and costly. But we saw others in local bakeriesthat will be worth checking out. Aside from Victoria and Bankok we also found a fairly good onein Cochem, for example.
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4 months ago
Linzertorte from .. Linz (on the Danube). Is this really a torte?
Heart 1 Comment 0
This Prinzregententorte seems suspect. It has only six layers. Seven is supposed to be the standard!
Heart 0 Comment 2
Jacquie GaudetI see seven. Either way, six or seven layers, it looks delectable!
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4 months ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Jacquie GaudetYes it's tricky. The fifth layer (starting at the bottom) is visible more at the point but then maybe peters out. You should be right, though, because seven total layers has a serious basis, according to Wiki: A Prinzregententorte originally had had 8 layers of cake and cream likewise, so as to represent the eight districts the Kingdom of Bavaria used to have back then. Since one of those regions, the Palatinate, was split off from Bavaria and merged with surrounding lands to form the new federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate by the American Military Government after World War II, which the locals later on confirmed in a plebiscite, those double-layers were subsequently reduced to seven.
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4 months ago
Dobos Torte layers are sponge cake. Not so sure about that.
Heart 0 Comment 0
There are dozens of tortes waiting to be discovered.
Heart 1 Comment 0
More than one day's research, oh oh.
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Warning: Even though this section makes it seem that we are devoted only to tortes, we not want to discriminate against other worthy pastries. That means we will just as avidly track strudel, as famous as torte in Vienna and called  Jablecny zavin in Czech. And we will not turn up our noses at Czech Kolace (sort of a "danish"). We will even be on the lookout for Staroceske Trdlo, a kind of tubular Hungarian sweet cake that we read can be found at street markets in Prague. OK, let's face it, any cake or pastry is fine by us!

Bonus: If you are not beginning to get torte on the brain, try listening to this for its 52 seconds (but you will have to click on "Watch this video on Youtube"):

Rate this entry's writing Heart 8
Comment on this entry Comment 14
Bill ShaneyfeltWell, since I quit eating anything with processed sugar and limit fats back in 2010, I will just have to visually delight in your tour de torte. If I was along, I would also delight in the aromas as well!
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4 months ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Bill ShaneyfeltThat's a clue to what must be an interesting back story. What prompted the sugar and fat limitation, and what have been the results? I have always found sugar (and allother carbs) and fat to be essential for mental health an physical strength, especially in case of stress or chill. But maybe those are like addictive drugs? If so, I'm too old to change now, I think.
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4 months ago
Bill ShaneyfeltTo Steve Miller/GrampiesWell, long story extremely short. Widowmaker in 2010. 2 stents side by side. 2 other partially blocked arteries. Already exercised regularly and ate better than American Heart Association recommendations. Found Dr Ornish has had success in artery clearing with lifestyle changes involving regular aerobic exercise, low fat, avoid sugar, avoid most animal protein, low salt and a few others. Since I already did everything recommended to avoid heart attacks, I decided to do the change, and added a bunch of anti inflammatory spices as well. I suspect stress, the other heart attack factor was the cause.
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4 months ago
Scott AndersonWell, this looks like a pretty amazing theme for a tour. I’m going to have to consult with Jeff to see if I can get your blog blocked from Rachael’s access or she’ll want to follow along in your tire treads.
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4 months ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Bill ShaneyfeltWe are done stressing about the route and the packing for this trip, so that's gotta be good.

Ah yes, it's easy to find Dr. Ornish on the web.
2010-2019 is a good stretch of presumably no further heart problems for you!
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4 months ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Scott AndersonI just wrote (but have not published) the page about the route. It begins with a map of where you (and the Classens) went last year, and declares our intention to follow you. If you follow us and we follow you I get an image of some sort of swirling circle, like in a cartoon!
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4 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Steve Miller/GrampiesI’m thinking we may need to start charging a planning fee if this keeps happening. Maybe you should treat us to a cup of coffee and torte when we come up your way this July.
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4 months ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Scott AndersonJuly, here? Did we miss that in a blog somewhere? No matter, we'll be here! It's your shot at a visit to the "famous" Drumroaster cafe. We have a spare room for you too.
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4 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Steve Miller/GrampiesI don’t know if we’ve declared it yet, but we plan to take the train up to Vancouver in mid-July and slowly work our way home over the following month before prepping up for an Iberian autumn. There are so many bike bloggers up there that it seemed like we should see what the story is first hand.
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4 months ago
Janet Anspach-RickeyWow! That is so wonderful! How far are you riding Dodie? Last I looked you were still getting worn out on pretty short rides. Are you two getting some longer rides in? Did you get that snow that covered Seattle area?
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4 months ago
Michel FleuranceWhen you say Baby Joni you mean '' Tochter "
The pronunciation link to Torte does not work.
It says : " video non disponible. La lecture a été désactivée par le propriétaire de la vidéo "

We are biking to Montjean sur Loire today. Expected temperature at noon to be 18°C to have some Armoricain (multi layer Torter)
https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/page/pic/?o=1mw&pic_id=2933598&size=large&v=2
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4 months ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Michel FleuranceMontjean! 18 degrees! With Torte! We are jealous. We are stuck in the house with snow all around and -5 at night!

It's interesting that Youtube gave you that message in French. My message, in English, says "Video Unavailable" but also gives a link that works and that says "Watch this video on Youtube". Strange.
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4 months ago
Michel FleuranceNo Torte for us yesterday. The store was closed in Montjean. Only deep blue sky, temperature during the picnic in Béhuard around +22°C

Forget the snow and have a look to the next Saumur vélo vintage
https://www.anjou-velo-vintage.com/fr/
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4 months ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Michel FleuranceToday in the hospital waiting room I was talking about trikes to a man who was having his knees fixed. To illustrate, I brought forward your picture with the Scorpion. I was surprised to see you have had it since way back in 2013. So, you may be qualified with it to join the velo vintage?
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4 months ago