I was told by my german teacher that "kuchen" were more like pies than cakes, and that "torte" was a better word for what americans call cakes. Does anyone know the actual difference?
I'd say that a main ingredient of a Torte is cream, while a Kuchen is more often just dough, perhaps with fruit in or on it.
So an "apple pie" would be an Apfelkuchen, I'd say, and there's no one German word that quite corresponds to "pie".
But a cheesecake can also be a Käsekuchen - a Käse-Sahne-Torte "cheese and cream cake" is something slightly different, I think, but similar. Try doing a Google Images search for the two terms.
I agree. Thinking about it, it also seems to me that a Kuchen – if it isn’t all dough like with Marmorkuchen – often still has the dough wrap up at the sides (but not completely around as is the case with the prototypical pie). It is also fairly variable in overall form. It many are round disks but there are other forms as well. Some more common shapes are that of a doughnut, a loaf of bread, half of a sphere or simply rectangular to fit the shape of your standard kitchen baking tray. Torten on the other hand are pretty much always disks/cylinders.
Also, a Kuchen is always baked, whereas with a Torte, you often pre-bake the dough parts and then assemble the whole thing afterward (usually this involves putting differend layers of ingredients on top of each other). As a result, Torte is pretty much always room temperature at most, often cooler (cream doesn’t stay in place if you heat it, and there are even more heat-sensitive variants as well, for example Eistorten “ice cream tarts”). I’m not an expert though; there may well be Torten which are baked as a whole as well
Same question. Although it's not an exact direct translation, I believe both have the same connotation in English.
Actually, in hindsight, even though it means the same thing in English, the German doesn't include "kommt aus". Instead it says "sind aus". So if Duolingo is stuck on literal translations it wouldn't be accepted. However, Duolingo does frequently accept other translations that aren't necessarily literal, so I still think that it should be accepted.
There is a separate plural die Kuchen (so it’s not a mass noun like “Wasser” which doesn’t have a plural). But you’re correct, the plural form of the noun is identical to the singular one; you have to rely on the article to know if it’s singular or plural.
In English one would be more inclined to say that the cakes come from Germany
I think that is from personal experience. There's the German equivalent for your English sentence too: Die Kuchen kommen aus Deutschland.
You are thinking of "Deutschland" which is the German word for "Germany". You don.t always translate words literally. For example "Krankenhaus" means "hospital", not "sick house" were it to be translated literally and hence wrong..