The greatest tortes were created in old Vienna in the times when Franz Josef II ruled over an empire of many nations. Each of them contributed culinary treasures to the Austrian cuisine. Many connoisseurs believe that although French bakers developed some outstanding tortes, they couldn't compare in the variety of tastes of Viennese pastries.

The difference between European tortes and American layer cakes is not just in the name. Eggs are used as the base of a torte, very little or even no flour is added. Tortes are not as fluffy and not as sweet as our cakes. The filling is creamy, glazing thin, if any. Flavors are strong. Vodka, rum and different liqueurs are used in the fillings. Because of this richness, it is customary to cut a torte into small portions.

When exact measurements, the size of the pan, the temperature and the time of baking are provided, it is difficult to fail at torte making.

Unfortunately, many treasured, old family recipes give only general instructions.

Take the eggs out of the refrigerator two hours before using them. They must be at room temperature to provide a good foam.Since no baking powder is added, you need a fluffy batter requiring long beating at high speed. The final mixing is a little tricky, you must have a light hand. You need three bowls for your ingredients. One is used for the dry ingredients, one for creamy egg yolk mixture and one for the whipped egg white. iYou add the egg white to the egg yolks in small layers, sprinkling each layer with dry ingredients. Then you fold everything together lightly, turning with a spatula from the bottom of the bowl to the top.

Every nut torte falls a little in the oven, so don't despair, it is not a flop. Reverse the layers while transfering them onto a serving platter and you will always have an even top. Sacher torte is supposed to be chewy, not fluffy as an American chocolate cake.

The simplest way to decorate a torte is to sprinkle the top and the sides of it with chopped nuts or grated chocolate. Larger pieces of walnuts or almonds, or candied cherries placed around the edge, look nice. A single fresh flower stuck in the center of a torte provides an attractive effect. But the decoration should not interfere with easy, even cutting.

Tortes with fillings containing uncooked egg yolk should be refrigerated until served. It is practical to cut a torte before the guests arrive. Use a thin sharp knife, dipping it in hot water before each cut. Keep the torte covered to prevent drying.

Tortes, icing and all, freeze very well. But when pastries are kept in the freezer for more than four months, some natural flavoring is lost. SACHER TORTE (16 servings) Batter: 10 egg whites 1/8 teaspoon salt 3/4 cup sugar 1/4 pound unsalted butter 6 ounces semisweet chocolate 8 egg yolks Rind grated from 1 large lemon 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon 3/4 teaspoon cloves 1 cup flour, sifted Spread: 3/4 cup pure apricot preserves Icing: 3 egg yolks 2/3 cup confectioners' sugar 1/2 cup unsalted butter, soft 6 ounces semisweet chocolate 2 tablespoons vodka

Butter and wax-paper line three 9-inch round cake pans.

Beat the egg whites with salt until stiff. Add sugar by spoonfuls, beating constantly. Beat 3 more minutes. Melt the butter with chocolate on low heat, stirring. Take off the heat, cool a little. Stir in the egg yolks, lemon rind and spices.

Add 1/4 of the egg whites to the chocolate mixture, mix lightly. Pour over the remaining egg whites and sift the flour over it. Mix lightly with a spatula until all the flour is moistened. Pour the batter into pans. Bake for 25 minutes in a 350-degree oven. Then turn off the heat, leave the oven door half open, and let the torte stand for 5 minutes. Take out and cool slightly. Remove from the pans, cool. Spread apricot preserves between layers.

To make the icing beat the egg yolks with the sugar for 5 minutes. Add the butter in small bits, beating constantly. Melt the chocolate in a warm oven. Add to the egg yolk mixture, beat some more. Add vodka, beat some more. Spread on the top and the sides of the torte. Refrigerate. TORTE PROVENCE (16 servings) Batter: 8 eggs, separated 2 cups confectioners' sugar 1/2 teaspoon almond extract 2/3 cup finely grated semisweet chocolate 3 tablespoons plain bread crumbs 1 2/3 cups finely chopped almonds in peels Spread: 1/2 pound unsalted butter, soft 1 1/4 cups sugar 2 eggs 1 tablespoon rum 1 cup peeled, toasted and coarsely chopped almonds 3 tablespoons coarsely grated semisweet chocolate for decoration

Beat the egg yolks with sugar and almond extract for 7 minutes. Whip the egg white until stiff. Add the egg whites and combined dry ingredients to the egg yolks alternately in small portions without mixing. Mix all together lightly with a spatula. Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes in a 9-inch spring pan with the bottom buttered and sprinkled with bread crumbs. Turn off the heat, and let the torte stand for 10 minutes with oven door half open. The torte will fall a little.

To make the spread cream the butter with the sugar for 10 minutes. Add the eggs one by one, still beating. Add rum and beat 5 more minutes. Fold in the almonds. Remove the cold torte from the pan. Place on a platter bottom up. Using a thread, cut the torte into two layers. Spread between the layers, over the top and the sides of the torte. Sprinkle the top with chocolate. Refrigerate.

This torte is better the next day. DATE TORTE (16 servings) Batter: 6 eggs 2 cups confectioners' sugar 8 ounces pitted dates, sliced 8 ounces almonds, peeled, ground Juice 1/2 lemon 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 4 tablespoons bread crumbs Chocolate Glazing: 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate 2 tablespoons butter

Beat the eggs with the sugar for 5 minutes. Add all the other ingredients, mix well. Spread the batter in two 9-inch round cake pans which have been buttered and lined with wax paper. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven, cool in the pans.

To make the glaze melt the chocolate with the butter, but do not let it boil. Spread between the layers, thinly. Pour the rest of the chocolate over the top of the torte. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Keep covered. WALNUT MOCHA TORTE (16 servings) Batter: 8 eggs, separated 2 cups confectioners' sugar Juice of 1 lemon 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 3 tablespoons plain bread crumbs 1/2 pound walnuts, finely chopped Spread: 2 tablespoons instant coffee 1 teaspoon cocoa 2 tablespoons vodka 4 egg yolks 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/2 pound unsalted butter

Beat the egg yolks adding sugar in small portions, add lemon juice and vanilla, beat for 5 minutes. Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff. Add the egg whites to the egg yolk mixture in small portions, sprinkling each portion with walnuts combined with bread crumbs. Mix all together lightly with a spatula. Spread the batter in 3 buttered and waxpaper-lined 9-inch round cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees 35-40 minutes. Remove from the oven, cool in the pans.

To make the spread dissolve coffee and cocoa in the vodka. Beat the egg yolks for 5 minutes, adding sugar gradually. Add butter in small portions and vanilla, beat 3 more minutes. Add coffee mixture gradually.

Spread the torte between layers, on the top and the sides. Decorate with walnut pieces and candied fruit. Refrigerate. This torte is better next day.