Gur Cake

Gur Cake

A true Irish delight, Gur Cake goes by a number of quirky names, from chester cake to donkey’s gudge. At its origin, the name “gur” is believed to hail from the term “gurrier,” a nickname for children skipping school who would purchase this affordable treat at bakeries. With a sticky and sweet fruit filling made up of chewy Valley Fig Growers’ California Figs and leftover sponge cake soaked in strongly brewed Irish breakfast tea, this cake is as economical as it is delicious. Rich, caramel notes from the figs marry effortlessly with the combination of warm spices found in the cake, and two layers of flaky Shortcrust Pastry add just the right amount of buttery bite. Perfect for an afternoon tea or a delayed St. Patty’s Day celebration, the Gur Cake is a fig-filled wonder you won’t want to miss.

Gur Cake
Makes 12 to 16 servings
  • 4 cups (340 grams) crumbled day-old sponge cake (about 12 ounces)
  • 3 cups (690 grams) strong-brewed Irish breakfast tea, cooled
  • Shortcrust Pastry (recipe follows)
  • ⅔ cup (83 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon (5 grams) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (3 grams) kosher salt
  • 1 cup (220 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup (57 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon (6 grams) ground cinnamon
  • 1½ teaspoons (3 grams) ground ginger
  • 1½ teaspoons (3 grams) ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon (1 gram) ground cloves
  • ⅔ cup (160 grams) whole milk, room temperature
  • 3 large eggs (150 grams), room temperature and divided
  • 1 tablespoon (4 grams) packed lemon zest
  • ⅔ cup (112 grams) lightly packed golden raisins
  • ½ cup (108 grams) halved dried figs (quartered if large)
  • Garnish: confectioners’ sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Lightly spray a 13×9-inch baking pan with cooking spray; line pan with foil, letting excess extend over sides of pan. Lightly spray foil.
  2. In a large bowl, place cake crumbs; pour tea over crumbs, making sure they are well coated and slightly submerged. Set aside to soak.
  3. Let Shortcrust Pastry stand at room temperature until softened, 10 to 15 minutes. On a lightly floured surface, roll one half into a 13×9-inch rectangle, lightly flouring dough and work surface as needed. Place in bottom of prepared pan, pressing into an even layer.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir in brown sugar; using your fingers, rub butter into flour mixture until well combined. (Mixture should resemble wet sand.) Stir in cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves until well combined.
  5. Strain cake crumbs through a fine-mesh sieve, gently pressing on crumbs to release as much liquid as possible. Transfer cake crumbs to a large bowl. Add milk, 2 eggs (100 grams), and lemon zest, whisking to combine. Stir in flour mixture, raisins, and figs until well combined; pour into prepared pan, and using a small offset spatula, spread into an even layer.
  6. On a lightly floured surface, roll remaining Shortcrust Pastry into a 13×9-inch rectangle, lightly flouring dough and work surface as needed. Place on top of cake crumbs mixture; using a small sharp knife, trim any uneven edges, if desired, and cut a few diagonal slashes across top.
  7. In a small bowl, whisk remaining 1 egg (50 grams); brush onto pastry.
  8. Bake until pastry is golden brown and filling can be heard bubbling, 55 minutes to 1 hour. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Using excess foil as handles, remove from pan. Using a serrated knife, cut into bars. Before serving, garnish with confectioners’ sugar, if desired.

Shortcrust Pastry
Makes 2 (13x9-inch) crusts
  • 3½ cups (438 grams) all-purpose flour
  • ⅔ cup (133 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (3 grams) kosher salt
  • 1 cup (227 grams) cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 2 large eggs (100 grams), lightly beaten
  1. In the work bowl of a food processor, place flour, sugar, and salt; pulse until combined. Add cold butter, and pulse until mixture is crumbly. Add eggs, and pulse just until dough comes together, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. (Mixture should be moist but not sticky and hold together when pinched.) Turn out dough, and divide in half; shape each half into a 5½-inch square. Wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 25 minutes.


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