Gur Cake

Gur Cake
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gur cake
Gur Cake! Like a pie cake hybrid.

Here’s a problem that most people don’t have: what to do with leftover cake? Even we normally don’t have that problem — after all, we tend to eat all the cake we make, but, when we do, we know exactly what to do. Make Gur Cake! What’s Gur Cake? Read on.

We found this recipe in Real Irish Food, by David Bowers, and we just knew we had to try it. After all, it has a great name. It uses up leftover cake crumbs. And, it’s a traditional Irish dish. What more do you need?

Now, if we remember correctly, Gur is a corruption of the word “gutter,” so this is gutter cake. The idea is that Gutter Cake is made from all the cake crumbs and leftovers that would normally be swept away off the counter into the gutter. Apparently, it was quite common to find Gur Cake in Dublin bakeries, say, 40 years ago, but today, not so much, which is a shame, because it really is a great way to use up something that would normally go to waste.

You’ll note that this recipe calls for 3 cups of cake crumbs, and you’re probably wondering how just a couple of people could generate that many cake crumbs. Especially since they don’t have frosting. It turns out, pretty easily. Remember the Chocolate Guinness Cake? Well, we had to cut the dome off the top of that cake to frost it, so we stuck those pieces in a bag in the freezer. Then, later, we made a couple of Chocolate Pound Cakes that, unfortunately, were just a bit underdone in the middle. We sliced off and ate the cake that was perfectly done, but the middles went into the Gur Cake bag. And, before we knew it, we had enough.

Makes one 7 x 11-inch cake.

Gur Cake

Gur Cake


    For the crust
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbs sugar
  • 8 Tbs (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cups ice-cold water
  • For the filling
  • 1 cup strong brewed tea
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 3 cups cake crumbs, any kind
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 2 Tbs heavy cream
  • sugar, for dusting
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves

Abbreviated Instructions

For the crust

Place flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few time to combine.

Distribute butter pieces on top. Pulse several times until the mixture resemble coarse meal.

With processor running, slowly add ice-cold water until dough forms into a ball.

Divide into two pieces, wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or overnight.

For the filling

Soak raisins in tea overnight.

In a large bowl, combine cake crumbs, raisins, and tea. Stir to break up large pieces.

Add brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground cloves. Stir until well mixed.

To assemble

Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter a 7x 11-inch baking dish.

Roll out one piece of dough and line pan, bringing the crust up the edges.

Spoon filling into crust and smooth.

Roll the other piece of dough and cover filling, sealing the edges.

Brush crust with heavy cream, cut several slits in the crust as vents, and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for 30-40 minutes until crust is a golden brown.

Cool completely before slicing.

Ingredient discussion:

Since the idea is to use up leftover cake, any kind of cake pieces will work. It just doesn’t matter. For the tea, we used Irish Breakfast. It’s a nice flavored tea and we let the teabag steep for about 10 minutes so we would have a very strong tea for steeping the raisins. The original recipe calls for “mixed spice” and explains that it is 1 part ground cloves, 1 part ground all spice, 2 parts ground nutmeg, and three parts cinnamon. We tried to approximate that in the ingredient list above.

Procedure in detail:

Make dough:

Combine dry ingredients. Place the flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times to combine. Since the dry ingredients sometimes shoot out around the edges of our lid, we place the food processor in the kitchen sink while doing this.

adding butter
Use cold chunks of butter so you’ll have a flaky crust.

Add butter. Place the pieces of cold butter across the top of the flour mixture. Make sure to use cold butter, which will help ensure a flaky crust. Pulse a few times until the mixture looks like a coarse meal.

pastry crust dough
Once the dough forms a ball and rides up on the blades, it’s done.

Add water. With the processor running, slowly pour in the ice-cold water. Keep pouring until the dough forms into a ball and rides on top of the blade. We made our water ice-cold by placing a few ice cubes in a 1/2 cup of water to chill it, then removing them right before using.

pastry dough
Two pieces of dough, ready to be chilled. One piece is for the bottom, one for the top.

Divide and chill. Divide the dough into two pieces, wrap each in plastic wrap and chill, at least 30 minutes, or as long as overnight if you still need to soak the raisins.

Make filling:

raisins soaking
The raisins will plump back up and look like sad grapes.

Soak raisins. Brew up a strong version of a tea that you like to drink. We happened to use Irish Breakfast because we think it’s a nice-tasting black tea. But, again, use what you like. Pour a cup of tea over the raisins, cover, and soak overnight.

cake pieces
Break up the cake pieces as best you can, although they’ll break up more when you add the remaining ingredients.

Moisten cake crumbs. Place the cake crumbs and pieces in a large mixing bowl, pour the raisin/tea mixture over them, and stir until everything is moistened and the larger pieces are broken up.

After the raisins, add in the brown sugar and spices. Mix and your Gur cake filling is done.
After the raisins, add the brown sugar and spices. Mix and your Gur cake filling is done.

Add sugar and spice. Mix the brown sugar and the spices into the cake filling, making sure to break up any pieces of brown sugar (ours always gets a bit lumpy, even though we keep it in the freezer). Set aside.

Assemble cake:

Preheat oven to 400°F and butter a 7 x 11 inch baking pan.

We had to patch up a few holes on the bottom crust. No one will see once it’s baked.

Roll out dough. Place one of the pieces of dough on a floured work surface and roll out the dough large enough to cover the bottom of the pan and come up the edges. If need be, trim some of the excess to fill in holes. A dab of water will help the dough stick.

Fill. Scoop the filling into the dough lined pan and then smooth out the top.

Roll out dough. Roll out the other piece of dough and place over the filling. Seal the edges all the way around, trim off and discard any excess.

brushing with cream
Once filled and covered with the remaining dough, brush with heavy cream to promote browning.
venting cake
Our vents were made to remind people of a wheat stalk. Be creative and make your own design.

Finish crust. Brush the top with heavy cream. It should go on somewhat like paint, especially if you use a pastry brush. Cut a few vents into the top to let the steam escape. Finally, finish up by sprinkling the top with granulated sugar.

Bake. Place in the oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the crust is a nice golden brown.

Gur cake
Done! Nicely browned. Now let it cool completely before slicing.

Cool. Let this cake cool completely before slicing. We’re not sure, but we think it might fall apart if it’s still hot.

gurcake_012Could be cake! Could be pie! Could be cake-pie! This is a fun way to use up leftover cake pieces, plus it tastes good! So, when you have a slice of it, you can congratulate yourself for keeping cake crumbs out of the garbage, thereby helping the environment. How many cakes can say they are environmentally friendly?

In case you’re wondering what this tastes like, Gur Cake tastes pretty much like a spice cake, and ours, of course, has a nice chocolate flavor, too. Overall, we give it four stars. Now, we need to cut this short and get back to helping the environment.

Worth the trouble?

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