1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Romanian
  4. >
  5. My take on the whole "cake" v…


My take on the whole "cake" vs "cupcake" thing

The translation "o prăjitură, două prăjituri" = "a cupcake, two cupcakes" is one that really stands out as inaccurate. There is also "un tort, două torturi" = "a cake, two cakes", which is fine, but a tad incomplete. I've seen several comments about the topic from confused users of this course, and I've also reported the problem. Here's my take on the whole "cake" thing, when translating between Romanian and English:

1) prăjitură = cake
This is the more general term when referring to a dessert made of flour, sugar, fat, eggs and other ingredients.

DEX (The Explanatory Dictionary of the Romanian Language) definition:
prăjitură = "Produs de patiserie preparat din făină, zahăr, grăsimi, ouă și ingrediente, care se consumă, de obicei, ca desert."

American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language:
cake = "A sweet baked food made of flour, liquid, eggs, and other ingredients, such as raising agents and flavorings."

Collins English Dictionary:
cake = "(Cookery) a baked food, usually in loaf or layer form, typically made from a mixture of flour, sugar, and eggs"

Oxford English Dictionary:
cake = "An item of soft sweet food made from a mixture of flour, fat, eggs, sugar, and other ingredients, baked and sometimes iced or decorated."

2) tort = layer cake
It is a special type of cake that has alternating layers of batter and cream filling. There is often glazing on top and on the sides. Note that in English, people often skip the "layer" qualifier, which is mostly used when they want to be more specific and emphasize the type of cake. That's why I think the translation "tort" = "cake" is also fine.

DEX (The Explanatory Dictionary of the Romanian Language) definition:
tort = "Prăjitură (de obicei de formă cilindrică) făcută din mai multe straturi de aluat, având între ele straturi de cremă, de dulceață etc., acoperită cu o glazură sau cremă, ornamentată etc."

Collins English Dictionary:
layer cake = "(Cookery) a cake made in layers with a filling"

Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary:
layer cake = "a cake made in layers, with a cream, jelly, or other filling between them."

3) fursec = cookie
This is the name given to those small, crispy cakes, which are usually-but-not-always round and flat. Note that some Romanians use the term "prăjiturică" or even "prăjitură" when referring to a cookie.

DEX (The Explanatory Dictionary of the Romanian Language) definition:
fursec = "Nume dat unor prăjituri mici și uscate, făcute din diferite aluaturi fragede, având forme variate."

American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language:
cookie = "A small, usually flat and crisp cake made from sweetened dough."

Collins English Dictionary:
cookie = "(Cookery, US and Canadian) a small flat dry sweet or plain cake of many varieties, baked from a dough."

Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary:
cookie = "a small, flat, sweetened cake, often round, made from stiff dough baked on a large, flat pan (cookie sheet)."

4) brioșă = muffin

DEX (The Explanatory Dictionary of the Romanian Language) definition:
brioșă = "Produs de patiserie, preparat prin coacerea în forme mici, rotunde și ondulate, a unui aluat de cozonac."

American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language:
muffin = "A small, cup-shaped quick bread, often sweetened."

Collins English Dictionary:
muffin = "(Cookery, British) a thick round baked yeast roll, usually toasted and served with butter"

Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary:
muffin = "a small quick bread made with flour or cornmeal, eggs, milk, etc., and baked in a pan containing a series of cuplike molds."

5) Oh, wait! But what about "cupcake"!?
I honestly don't know if we have a good corresponding term for that in Romanian. People basically use one of "brioșă", "prăjiturică" or even "prăjitură", depending on the context, but each have their own limitations and there is no word that goes well in every situation. Here's what some English dictionaries say about cupcake.

American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language:
cupcake = "A small cake baked in a cup-shaped container."

Collins English Dictionary:
cupcake = "(Cookery) a small cake baked in a cup-shaped foil or paper case"

Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary:
cupcake = "a small cake, the size of an individual portion, baked in a cup-shaped mold."

Bottom line, "prăjitură" is a general term which translates to "cake", while "cupcake" is a very specific type of cake.
To the course authors: please don't go about using "cupcake" as the main translation for "prăjitură"; use "cake" instead. At the very least, go ahead and accept "cake" as being a valid alternative. I feel that you wanted to differentiate between "prăjitură" and "tort", and this pushed you to only accept "cupcake" for "prăjitură", and "cake" for "tort". Also, please go ahead and accept "layer cake" as an alternative translation for "tort".

March 17, 2017



I would like to personally thank you for writing this detailed explanation, as a Romanian native speaker, I use the word prăjitură to refer to every type of sweet made with bread flower, etc... (tortul [categoric] este o prăjitură...).

We will discuss with the grammar department of our team and see how we can further advance into modifying these translations.


This discussion is two years old, and nothing has changed. Either accept tort or torturi for cake and cakes, or make some other distinction between the two. It is frustrating and maddening that sometimes tort is the translation for cake, and other times it is prăjitură, when there is no other contextual information to differentiate.


and pancakes too... (clătite?)

(BTW, can ”birthday cake” be used for ”tort” too? - honest question, not suggesting anything)


Hmm, good question. I think it really depends on the context and the translation direction.

  • From English to Romanian, I suppose you would indeed translate "birthday cake" to "tort" in most (con)texts, due to the fact that instances of birthday cakes are usually layer cakes. The same would apply to "wedding cake", and maybe others.
  • From Romanian to English, you would have to decide based on the information provided by the context. You could translate "tort" to any of "layer cake", "birthday cake", "wedding cake", or simply "cake".


Wedding cake has a name, it is called ”tortul miresei”, because traditionally it was the bride who had to make it, and serve it to the groom and the guests on the wedding day. Maybe a hundred years ago? hehe, because I am quite old and went to many weddings, but never seen it done this way. Nowadays, they are ordered from specialized shops.


Why not simply "pastry"? When I encountered the word first time I did an image search and that was the first translation that came to my mind...

Pastry = "The word "pastries" suggests many kinds of baked products made from ingredients such as flour, sugar, milk, butter, shortening, baking powder, and eggs. Small tarts and other sweet baked products are called pastries."

Sounds like exactly what you guys are describing?


Pastry refers to that specific type of dough which is often sweet and crusty. Pastry/pastries also refers to the products made by using that dough. Think croissants, strudels, tarts, cinnamon rolls, danishes, and the like. In Romanian, you would say these are "produse de patiserie", or even "pateuri".


Yes. I would consider strudels and danishes to be pastries and I would probably consider croissants to be made from pastry, but not to be pastries. I would include croissants and pastries under the umbrella term "baked goods" however, along with all kinds of buns and rolls, sweet and savoury, etc.


To me "layer cake" is a bit technical. I can imagine bakers and cooks would use it to distinguish from other types of cake, but I'm a native English speaker in my fifties and I've never used this term though I immediately understand it. It could also be regional. Maybe it's used by non specialists in North America but not in Australia for instance.

Learn Romanian in just 5 minutes a day. For free.