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Traditional Irish Gur Cake for St. Patrick's Day or Anytime

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In my view, this traditional Irish cake is best enjoyed with a nice cup of tea.

Gur cake is a traditional Irish dessert

Gur cake is a traditional Irish dessert

Gur Cake Recipe

Irish Gur cake, also known as "fruit slices" and "chester cake," was originally devised by bakers in the 1930s to use up leftover bread at the end of the week. It is available now in almost every bakery shop in the country on a daily basis; like many other traditional foods, it has fallen prey to mass production.

I have to admit, I find the mass-produced version dry. In my opinion, it bears little resemblance in taste to the homemade ones with which I grew up.

Of course, like almost everything my mother baked, getting exact measurements wasn’t easy. She gauged by the handful, and a keen eye. As luck would have it, I found an old recipe with more precise measurements, and with a little adjusting here and there, I finally managed to make some, just as good as my mother’s offerings!

Gur cake is a delicious anytime-of-day snack and a perfect dessert. It can be served with custard, cream, or ice cream. But, in my view, it’s best eaten on its own with a nice cup of tea.

An oval Gur cake

An oval Gur cake

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Cook Time and Yield

Cook timeReady inYields

30 min

30 min

8-10 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups / 12 ozs plain flour
  • 6 ozs butter or margarine, diced
  • 8 tablespoons cold water
  • Pinch salt, omit if using salted butter
  • 12 regular slices white bread or any leftover bread.
  • 1 cup strong tea
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup mixed dried fruit (e.g., raisins/sultanas)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons mixed spice or cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Make the pastry: In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and salt and blend in the cold butter, bind the mixture together with the cold water. Divide the pastry in half, and wrap one of the halves in plastic wrap and refrigerate for later use. On a floured surface, thinly roll out the remaining pastry and line the base of a greased rectangular 11x7x1/1/2 inch (28x18x4 cm) cake tin. Refrigerate while you are preparing the filling.
  2. Make the filling: Soak the bread slices in the strongly brewed tea; mash very well with a fork until smooth. Stir in the sugar, the dried fruit, and mixed spice (or cinnamon, if using) and set aside for 1 to 2 hours to let the dried fruit plump up. You may also, if you wish, leave this refrigerated overnight.
  3. Assemble the cake: Remove pastry-lined pan and remaining pastry half from the refrigerator. Spread the filling on the pastry base. Roll out remaining pastry, and place it over the filling. Prick the pastry top all over gently with a fork. Press well down and brush the top with a little cold milk. Bake at 400 degrees F / 200C/ Gas Mark 6, for approximately 30 minutes or until pastry crust is golden brown. Remove cake from the oven and place on a cooling rack; allow to cool completely in the tin. When ready to serve, cut into slices or squares - and enjoy.

Low-Fat Substitute for Butter

If you'd prefer not to use butter, you may substitute low-fat margarine. This will alter the above nutritional values accordingly.

Gur cake with a nice cup of tea

Gur cake with a nice cup of tea

Comments

itakins (author) from Irl on March 11, 2012:

Hi GusTheRedneck -

You know you really don't taste the tea in the cake so much,the fruit really is the main flavour.You could make very weak tea ,of course.As for a beverage to accompany it....whatever's your fancy,even coffee.

Gustave Kilthau from USA on March 11, 2012:

Howdy itakins - I have been sitting here, reading your recipe and the article sandwiching it, "tasting" that strong tea flavor, but wondering if other flavors might go well with the rest of it. One more kitchen experiment to attempt here. Thanks.

Gus :-)))

itakins (author) from Irl on February 29, 2012:

Thanks so much Tracy Lynn -this is well worth a try.I can't pretend I have ever made it as well as my mum did -but I try....and the kids love it.

Tracy Lynn Conway from Virginia, USA on February 29, 2012:

I think you read my mind. I have four kids and as you can imagine, we go through a lot of bread. Every time I throw out the ends or stale bits I think, gee, there must be something I could do with these. My Mom has made bread pudding and my husband makes croutons sometimes but this certainly looks interesting. This is my month doing things Irish, so I will put this on the 'to-make' list. Great hub, thanks. LOVE the traditional foods and the fact that your Mom never measured, frustrating but sweet. ~voted up~

itakins (author) from Irl on February 27, 2012:

FordeAhearn-Thank you kindly -enjoy.I heard lately it's also a great way of using up abandoned Christmas cake or pudding -Haven't tried that yet ,but I intend to soon.

FordeAhern from Broadford, Co. Limerick. ireland on February 27, 2012:

Love you recipe.Thank you. I will try it hopefully next weekend. voted up and useful

itakins (author) from Irl on January 18, 2012:

BukowskiBabe

I spotted your lovely comment languishing here without a response-my apologies.I hope it worked out well for you.

itakins (author) from Irl on January 18, 2012:

joancarolyn

You are so welcome -I'm delighted you got the chance to enjoy good old gur cake here in Ireland .Hopefully you will enjoy many more slices when you get going with the recipe.So many of the 'oldtimers' made it beautifully ,but never wrote it down!

joancarolyn on January 17, 2012:

I have just returned from a visit to Dublin. I made a point to visit Catherine's Bakery on Meathe Street to enjoy once again the Fruit Slices. Because I had heard it was a traditional food prepared without recipes, it never occurred to me to locate a recipe online until today. What a beautiful thing this is! Thank you.

BukowskiBabe from Somewhere in the middle of it all. on July 27, 2011:

I've never heard of this type of cake. Will be making this winter. Thank you for sharing.

itakins (author) from Irl on May 25, 2010:

opismedia

or even try it yourself:)

opismedia on May 25, 2010:

Hmmmmm yummy, i'll bookmark this hub and ask my wife to follow these steps. Who knows maybe i'll feel the taste of irish cake :). Thanks

itakins (author) from Irl on May 04, 2010:

viking305

That's how it's done-my mother -being a Northern woman used to say 'a lock of this and a lock of that-' I never quite worked that one out!

I'm thrilled to hear it's still popular:)

L M Reid from Ireland on May 04, 2010:

Looks lovely yes and tastes great too. My mother stil makes this cake for all the family. And yes she uses her own measurements too, a handful here and pinch there lol

itakins (author) from Irl on May 03, 2010:

Thank you Garlic Angel-are you Irish by any chance?My mum used to make it also-we loved it as kids.

Christine from Dublin on May 03, 2010:

My mum makes this she and all my family love it,, fair play to you itakins for the hub...

itakins (author) from Irl on April 28, 2010:

Lamme

It's deliciously gorgeous.

Lamme on April 28, 2010:

This sounds really good. I've never heard of anything like it. I'm anxious to give it a try!

itakins (author) from Irl on March 17, 2010:

it's just me

I really hopethey like it -my mother used to make it freuently and we could never get enough.

It's just me from Alaska on March 17, 2010:

I know what I'm making for the boys after school treat today. Thank you for the recipe!

itakins (author) from Irl on March 16, 2010:

It's poor old St Patrick who did it.

Beannachtaí agus Siocháin ort an lá Fhéile Phadraig seo.

Blessings and Peace to you this St. Patrick's day.

Make Money from Ontario on March 16, 2010:

Well aren't you looking awful green today itakins. :-)

Happy Saint Patrick's Day. Erin Go Bragh

Mike

itakins (author) from Irl on January 16, 2010:

Good question-

In Ireland the term gurrier is used ,especially in Dubin,for 'louts' or thuggish types-it is believed that these guys bought this cake because it was the cheapest one available-thus 'gur'.Some people think it's an abbreviated version of a french term(which eludes me!)-but I would suspect that's a wee bit iffy.

christinecook on January 16, 2010:

sound interesting. where did they come up with the name?

itakins (author) from Irl on January 15, 2010:

Prasetio30-

It is really nice and so easy to make.

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on January 15, 2010:

I never know about Gur cake. But it looks delicious. It looks easy to make this cake. I'll try to make it at home. thanks

itakins (author) from Irl on January 02, 2010:

habee-

We always use the standard packed dried fruits -sultanas and/or raisins -really what you would use to make any fruit cake.

Holle Abee from Georgia on January 02, 2010:

I want to try this. Which dried fruit do you recommend?

itakins (author) from Irl on December 24, 2009:

You are welcome-I hope you enjoy it.

TheSablirab on December 24, 2009:

Something I will have to try. I've stumbled across several receipes over the past coulpe days on Hubpages that I'll have to try! This is merely one of them. Thanks for the Hub!

itakins (author) from Irl on December 19, 2009:

Rose West-

It really is delicious-and if you can make pastry ,the rest is a doddle!

Rose West from Michigan on December 19, 2009:

Sounds really delicious - I'll bookmark this for a future baking day! Thanks!

itakins (author) from Irl on December 19, 2009:

Hi 2uesday-

It's scrumptious.

2uesday on December 19, 2009:

sounds delicious - thanks itakins

itakins (author) from Irl on December 19, 2009:

Immartin-

Await delivery-enjoy!

itakins (author) from Irl on December 19, 2009:

Breakfastpop-

Excellent idea-enjoy.

lmmartin from Alberta and Florida on December 19, 2009:

Sounds yummy! I'd say I'll try it sometime, but I don't bake. Maybe you should send me some.

breakfastpop on December 19, 2009:

Sounds delicious and a perfect project for a very snowy week-end. Thanks so much for sharing.