Torte (pronounced tor-teh) is a German word meaning cake. It is reserved for fancier cakes — for simpler cakes, Germans use the word “Kuchen.” It is rather like we would use the word “gâteaux” for fancy, schmantzy cakes. Put more simply, if you buy a Torte or a gâteau at a bakery, you expect to pay more than you would for a Kuchen or a cake. So, you could say, Torte is a German word meaning expensive to buy, or a lot of work to make!
Sachertorte means literally “Sacher cake” (Sacher being, as all foodies know, the name of the young man who invented the cake and later founded the hotel of the same name.)
German Torte often have some or all of the flour replaced with ground nuts, etc, which make them even more nice (and expensive.) But, they also make Torte recipes worth exploring for people with wheat allergies, or for Passover cooking. Tortes also tend to have at least a few layers.
Literature & Lore
In German, Torte is pronounced “tor – teh”, and always spelt with a capital T when it is a stand-alone word. Torte, pronounced tor-tay, is also the plural Italian word for cakes (the singular being torta). Torta is a Romance language word, which the Germans probably borrow for fancier cakes kind of in the same way that we also borrow the fancier Romance language (e.g. French) word, “gâteaux.”