1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: French
  4. >
  5. gâteau vs. tarte?


gâteau vs. tarte?

In the lessons, I was asked to translate "the cake" into French. I translated it as "la tarte", but that was wrong. The correct solution was "le gâteau". Is there a difference in meaning between the words "gâteau" and "tarte"? Thanks.

August 17, 2012



One means tart (tarte), the other literally means cake (le gâteau) so in this instance, gâteau is the more correct choice. A tart is different from a cake.


a tart is basically made with a dough basis plus fruits or other ingredients on the top (ex: plump tart or a leek tart - a pizza is a kind of tart), while a cake is a mixture of various ingredients (ex: sponge cake or black forest cake).


Here two wikipedia links that may help to clarify the distinction. For me - being a non-baker German - the distinction seems a bit arbitrary, but as far as cakes are concerned, my expertise lies more on the eating than on the baking side ;-) http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarte http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%A2teau


I've always understood tarte to mean pie, and gâteau to mean cake.


Oh la la ! Wataya, that Wiki page is so appétissante ! by the way, French pâtisserie is a world by itself and the vocabulary extremely extensive. Katherle, I suggest you go to France and taste them all so feel the difference by yourself...


@Sitesurf: yes! I acknowledge the French expertise in anything related to cooking, eating and drinking - sans l'ombre d'un doute ;-) BTW: The following list of cooking-related idiomatic expressions in French may be of some interest. Makes my mouth water... http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liste_d%27idiotismes_gastronomiques_fran%C3%A7ais


Even if one is the non baking kind, here is a link to the recipe of French apple pie: http://www.tarte-aux-pommes.com/. Maybe you can convince somebody to bake you one?


I always took it that "tarte" refers to a pie, and "gâteau" is a cake.

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