In my view, this traditional Irish cake is best enjoyed with a nice cup of tea.
The Best Gur Cake Recipe
Irish Gur cake, also known as "fruit slices" or "chester cake," was 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 to be... dry. 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 with 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.
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Cook Time and Yield
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- 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
- 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, 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 11x7x1.5 inch (28x18x4 cm) cake tin. Refrigerate while you are preparing the filling.
- 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.
- Assemble the cake: Remove the pastry-lined pan and the remaining pastry half from the refrigerator. Spread the filling on the pastry base. Roll out the 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 the pastry crust is golden brown. Remove the cake from the oven and place it on a cooling rack; allow it 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.