Gur cake is one of those truly Irish classic desserts that showcases Yankee ingenuity and frugality. Gurriers were the “hooky” players of Ireland. Children, often of the poorer class, that skipped school, “foraged” food from the towns bakeries and simply raised innocent mischief.
During the course of the day. bakers would allow these children the scraps and cuttings from the kitchen to eat, scraps of bread, side and top cuttings of cakes and muffins that didn’t make the cut were given to these children out the back door. The first decade of the 20th century saw home kitchens making recipes using these scraps and, subsequently, calling them Gur Cakes.
In County Cork, they were referred to as Chester Cakes, Donkey’s Gudge Cake in Munster Province and Flies Graveyard in the U.K., not to be confused with Squashed Fly Cake elsewhere in England. I used leftover muffins, but go ahead and prepare this delicious dessert using fresh muffins, and a flavor of your choice.
After all, this was originally made with whatever was leftover in the home.
For the Pastry Crust
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 2 cups flour
- 2 tablespoons browns ugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 cup butter or margarine
- 6 tablespoons cold water
For the Filling
- 1 1/2 cups stale muffins or cake pieces, cubed*
- 1 1/4 cups strong lemon or orange tea
- 2 cups (8 ounces) dried cranberries or raisins
- 1/3 cup blueberry preserves, or your favorite flavor
- 3 egg whites
- 1/4 cup milk, plus extra for browning
- 1/2 teaspoon each cinnamon and nutmeg
- 1 Grease an 8-inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside. Make crust by mixing flour, brown sugar and baking powder together in a bowl.
- 2 Add butter, cutting it in with a fork or pastry knife, or even your finger tips, until it resembles the size of peas or smaller. Add cold water and mix well.
- 3 Roll out onto a well floured work surface until twice as large as your 8-inch pan. Cut into 2 squares, each 8-inches square. Lay one square inside pan; set aside other.
- 4 Pour tea over muffin cubes and allow to soak for a few minutes, or until completely saturated. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- 5 Meanwhile, place cranberries, preserves, egg whites, milk, cinnamon and nutmeg in the bowl of a food processor or use a blender, and pulse until just mixed together.
- 6 Do not chop the dried cranberries too much. Squeeze muffins dry of the tea and place in a large bowl. Add the berry mixture and blend well.
- 7 Evenly pour over crust and top withreserved dough square. Poke vent holes with a fork, brush some milk over the top and bake 20-22 minutes, or until crust on top is starting to darken.
- 8 Remove from oven to cool completely before cutting to serve.
- 9 *Or use 8 slices stale bread without crust.