Tartines, Tarts, and Tartlets: Are They the Same?
Open-faced tartines, delicate bite-sized tartlets, and the classic, often fruit-adorned tarts, are beautiful and delicious treats to have at any time of the day. But did you know that despite their seemingly interchangeable terms, they are actually different things?
Tartines, tarts, and tartlets possess distinct characteristics that set each of them apart. From their origins and structural compositions, to their diverse range of flavours, we’ll share more about their differences so that you’ll never order the wrong item.
Tartines are open-faced sandwiches topped with a variety of quality ingredients, such as spreads like butter, or toppings and garnishes like cheeses, cured meats, vegetables, and herbs. They can be enjoyed as a light breakfast, a midday snack, or as an appetiser during meal times.
Here’s a fun fact: Its name, tartine, is the French word for “bread with something on it”.
Origin of Tartines
Its name, tartine, is the French word for “bread with something on it.” But apart from the French origin of the name, the history of the open-faced sandwich is generally unknown to many.
There is, however, a similar dish called a Smørrebrød with a more interesting story. Translated into English to mean “butter bread”, the Smørrebrød is a traditional Danish open-face sandwich that originated in the European Middle Ages.
During the time, food was often served on thick slices of stale bread, which were tossed out once the meal was finished, not eaten. Eventually, people began incorporating the bread into meals as they realised that it was the tastiest part that absorbed all the juices and flavours of the toppings.
Today, the toppings added to tartines are more refined and diverse, making them a staple in many cafés and bistros around the world.
Tarts and Tartlets
Tarts are baked dishes consisting of a circular pastry crust filled with various ingredients; they can be savoury or sweet. Savoury ones are usually made with vegetables, meats, and cheeses, while sweet tarts can contain fruits, creams, and custards, and are usually served as desserts.
Tartlets are the miniature versions of tarts that feature a smaller, round pastry shell. Their delicate, bite-sized shape lets you easily experience all their flavours within one bite. Tartlets are popular in high-tea gatherings, upscale events, on dessert tables, or packed in a dessert box.
Origin of Tarts and Tartlets
Tarts have roots that trace back to various ancient civilisations. The earliest forms of tarts can be found in Egyptian and Roman cuisine, where they were mainly made with honey and fruits. However, it was the mediaeval European period that saw the development of the more familiar pastry crusts.
Tarts became a favoured delicacy in mediaeval European courts as they showcased the opulence of ingredients like exotic spices, fruits, and nuts. This combination of a crisp pastry shell and sumptuous fillings then spread across Europe, with each region adding its own local flair—Germany created savoury tarts, while England and France added sweet tarts and tartlets into their tea-time traditions.
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