a short, square piece of rich, chocolate cake

  • Starless74

    Senior Member
    Italiano
    "short" describes the square piece of chocolate cake.
    I suppose it intends to convey the fact that a "brownie" is not a full slice of cake, but a "short" segment of a slice.
    I had never heard it before, personally.
     

    heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    In pastries and biscuits (cookies), 'short' means having a large proportion of butter or fat (shortening) and as a result being crispy or flaky and easily crumbled.

    I'm not familiar with 'short' being used to describe cakes, but the WR Dictionary says "(of dough) containing a relatively large amount of shortening." Maybe this includes cakes?

    But brownies are dense and chewy, not at all flaky or crispy or crumbly.
     

    Starless74

    Senior Member
    Italiano
    In pastries and biscuits (cookies), 'short' means having a large proportion of butter or fat (shortening) and as a result being crispy or flaky and easily crumbled.
    I'm not familiar with 'short' being used to describe cakes, but the WR Dictionary says "(of dough) containing a relatively large amount of shortening." Maybe this includes cakes?
    But brownies are dense and chewy, not at all flaky or crispy or crumbly.
    I suppose in that case it would have been "a square piece of short, rich chocolate cake" wouldn't it? :)
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    This is a very badly written definition.
    "Short" is simply the wrong word. It should probably have been "small" instead.

    Look at the definitions in WRD. They are much better:
    a square piece of dense, chewy cake, usually chocolate
    a small, chewy, cakelike cookie, usually made with chocolate and containing nuts
    a small square nutty chocolate cake
    Or Oxford (Lexico): A small square of rich chocolate cake, typically containing nuts
    Even "wrongman" Longman is better: a thick flat chocolate cake

    My paper Webster is also better than the learner's online one:
    a small square or rectangle of rich usually chocolate cake containing nuts
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    the opposite of "a tall, square piece...."
    :thumbsdown: :thumbsdown:
    Cakes aren't tall (unless you're talking about a stack of cakes), they are thick. The concept of a short cake (as opposed to a shortcake!) doesn't really fly for me. If they meant "not thick", I reckon they should have said "thin".
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    :thumbsdown: :thumbsdown:
    Cakes aren't tall (unless you're talking about a stack of cakes), they are thick. The concept of a short cake (as opposed to a shortcake!) doesn't really fly for me. If they meant "not thick", I reckon they should have said "thin".
    Brownies are very thick (dense) not thin. ;)
    Brownies are already sliced so the writer is thinking about cake slices (A whole cake is equivalent to a pan of brownies.) This looks tall to me, not thick.
    1565992153768.png

    Seriously though, brownies are more than twice as thick as any similar item that I would describe as "thin." Pita bread is thin. Pizza crust is thin.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    It doesn't work for me either but I'm sure that's what they meant. First of all, calling it cake is already misleading. So they were trying to undo that mental picture of a tall wedge of cake, I think.
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    It doesn't work for me either but I'm sure that's what they meant.
    Well, if you're sure, I'm sure {as Fagin said to Oliver}. But I would never have guessed that that is what was meant, because "short" can be used as the opposite of "tall" for things whose main size dimension is vertical, like people or trees. But for everything else (such as cake) short is the opposite of long (not of tall).

    A single brownie (as opposed to the whole slab that comes out of the baking tray) is rectangular in three dimensions, and has a length, a width, and a height (or alternatively a length, a wdith, and a thickness). If it is described as "short", I would expect this to mean that its length (not its height) is small. If it is described as "square", I would expect its length to equal its width, and then it would make no sense to say that it is short. Besides, in my (admittedly not hugely extensive) experience, brownies are rarely square, their width being being typically about half to two-thirds of their length, and their thickness or height being typically a little less than their width.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    In a dictionary definition, the writer must use as few words as possible. "tall" is always vertical height. "thick" can be dense as I mentioned and I think it's more often front to back or side to side than top to bottom. (He's has thick thighs/shoulders/etc means they are broad/wide.)
    If I can only say "it's a _ cake", I wouldn't pick "thick" for "not tall" even though "tall" is not really idiomatic. Dictionary definitions are often not natural.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Well, if you're sure
    Like I said, it doesn't work for me but based on real life that's the only plausible thing I think it could mean and therefore that's what I think it does mean.

    It doesn't mean rich in fat and it doesn't mean angry and it doesn't mean lacking cash and the horizontal dimensions are already taken care of by "square" so it has to mean the vertical dimension.
     
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