Gur Cake
An old Dublin favorite, now enjoying a new lease on life

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Gur Cake

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Adjust Servings:
For the cake filling
8 slices stale bread or cake If cake, remove frosting
.66 cup All-purpose flour 75g
2 teaspoons Apple pie spice
1 teaspoon Baking powder
.5 cup + 3 tablespoons Granulated sugar 115g
.75 cup Currants 175g
.25 cup, melted Butter 50g
1 lightly beaten Large eggs
1.5 cup Strong tea 250ml
Enough to soften the filling Milk
For the pastry
2 cups All-purpose flour 250g / 9 ounces
.5 cup Butter 100g / 3.5 ounces
.5 teaspoon Salt
8-10 tablespoons Cold water

    A thrifty treat, once the Dublin street kids' favorite bakery snack

    • 1 h 20 min
    • Serves 4
    • Easy


    • For the cake filling

    • For the pastry



    Invented by Dublin bakers at the turn of the 20th century, gur cake was a way to use up unsold day-old bread or cake and still make some money from it. It quickly became available all over Ireland, and can still be found here and there under other names: “Chester cake” in the Cork area, “gudge cake” or “donkey gudge” in Waterford, even “plum duff” in Westmeath. Big-city bakeries have carried it for a good while, but more are featuring it now that gur cake’s  recently been rediscovered as part of the reawakened interest in regional Irish foods.

    Gur cake is a great way to conserve and recycle your leftover baked goods into something unexpectedly tasty.

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    To make the shortcrust pastry

    Mix together the plain flour, salt and butter in a large mixing bowl. Using fingertips or a pastry cutter, rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.


    Mix in 4-5 tablespoons of the cold water and start mixing the dough together with a fork. Add more water, tablespoon by tablespoon, until it comes together and can be kneaded into a dough that's not sticky. (Some flours need more water than others, depending on local conditions or their ability to absorb water.) Wrap the dough in plastic wrap / clingfilm and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.


    Preheat the oven

    Preheat the oven to 190C / 375F / gas mark 5 and flour a square baking tin / baking pan.


    Soak the currants or raisins

    In a heatproof bowl, pour the hot strong tea over the currants or raisins and leave them to soak and soften in the tea. To hurry this process along, you can microwave the bowl of tea and raisins a few times, a minute at a time, and the fruit will soften sufficiently to add to the gur cake filling within an hour or so. Drain off the tea before adding the fruit to the cake filling.


    To make the cake filling

    Remove the crusts from the bread and make the remainder into crumbs. If using cake, make that into crumbs. Put the crumbs into a mixing bowl with the flour, salt, baking powder, mixed (apple pie) spice, sugar and dried fruit. Mix well to combine.


    Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix

    Add the butter and egg to the dry ingredients with enough milk to make a fairly stiff, spreadable mixture.


    Assembling the cake

    Roll out the pastry, and using the baking pan / tin as a guide, cut out one piece of pastry to make the lid. Use the rest, re-rolled as necessary, to line the base of the pan/tin. Spread the pastry with the mixture: then cover with the pastry lid.


    Make diagonal slashes across the top. Bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes, until golden.

    Sprinkle with sugar and leave to cool in the tin. Cut into squares.


    To serve

    Serve warm or cold, as you prefer.


    I write for a living. But food is one of my favorite hobbies... learning about it, cooking it, eating it!

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