A common cake in 1916 was Gur cake, now more recently known as Chester Cake or fruit slice. The word ‘gurrier’ is an old Irish term which describe a young trouble maker. Gurriers would often miss school or be ‘on the gur’. Those were poor days in Ireland and the clever ones would ‘acquire’ enough money to buy a slice of gur cake to keep them going. Gur Cake was considered to be the cheapest confectionery in the bakeries as it consists mostly of leftover baked product. And depending on how much money you had, in varying proportions - stale bread and leftover cake. This was all remixed with whatever was at hand – dried fruits, sugar, milk, tea, spices - spread in a large tin over a pastry base, and finally topped with more pastry and baked.
It is a great way to use up leftovers, but nowadays at home we seldom would have enough leftover cake crumb to make a gur cake. Making a gur cake only requires a basic recipe as there are limited rules. I’ve previously made some with cocoa, chocolate, chopped fresh apples, eggs, orange juice. Your added fruit/sugar should reflect how sweet/rich your cake crumb is. Bread crumbs should be kept to a minimum.
Crumb your leftover cake into a large bowl
Stir in the flour, sugar, and spices.
Add the wet mix: egg/ milk/ orange juice/ water mixture. Use as much liquid to make a thick paste – like very firm porridge.
Grease a rectangular 28cm x 20cm (11x7 inch) cake tin.
Roll out the pastry thinly into 2 pieces the size of the tin.
Line the bottom of the tin with one layer of pastry.
Spread the filling on top. Cover with the second layer of pastry.
Prick the top lightly all over with a fork, then brush with a little milk.
Bake at 190 degrees C (375 F) Gas Mark 5, for 45-55 minutes, or until crisp and golden brown. Cool in cake tin.
When cold, cut into rectangular slices and sprinkle with a little icing sugar.
Photo credit: Samantha Okazaki / TODAY