Cakes

Traditional Irish Gur Cake Recipe

4.43 from 7 votes
Try our Traditional Irish Gur Cake Recipe that ensures a simple treat with sweet, buttery flavors, complemented by soft, flaky textures.
A plate of Irish Gum Cakes are served with tea. The Fur Cakes have golden flaky top and bottom crust, filled with moist breadcrumbs, spices, and sweet raisins.

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Hi Bold Bakers!

WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS RECIPE: This Traditional Irish Gur Cake is a delicious and clever treat close to the heart of Dubliners! It’s so richly flavored and sweet, with a moist texture, that you’d never guess it’s made from such humble ingredients. This budget-friendly confection gives you the moistness of spice cake and the irresistible flakiness of pastry in one lovely dessert. 

  • Gur is short for the old Dublin word gurriers, young lads who would “go on the gur” (ditch school) and get up to mischief.
  • When these kids needed a snack to fuel their adventures, they could only afford the cheapest option from the bakery. So this pastry, made from day-old bread crumbs or old cake doctored up with raisins and spices and stuffed between two layers of pastry, became their go-to. Soon enough, it was known as gur cake.

Cozy, aromatic baked goods brimming with cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg always remind me of home. Bring a little bit of Ireland into your kitchen with our mouthwatering  Traditional Irish Spice Cake, Traditional Irish Barmbrack, and O’Driscolls Irish Whiskey Cake Recipe.

Table of Contents

A plate of Irish Gum Cakes are served with tea. The Fur Cakes have flaky top and bottom crust, filled with moist breadcrumbs, spices, and sweet raisins.

What is Traditional Irish Gur Cake?

Tools You Need

Key Ingredients and Why

  • 1 Recipe Pie Crust

  • Fresh breadcrumbs

    • Breadcrumbs are the foundation of the flavorful center of the gur cake.
    • Their neutral taste is the ideal backdrop for the cake’s spices and fruit.
    • The flavor and freshness of homemade breadcrumbs taste so much better than store-bought, and they’re much better than the stale bread crumbs that were used in the old days! Our guide to How to Make Breadcrumbs gives you all the details you’ll need.
  • Black tea

    • Strong black tea gives gur cake a robust, wonderfully complex flavor. The tannins in tea contribute a bright, astringent taste that complements the cake’s sweetness.
    • Any black tea will work here, but for authenticity, try an Irish brand.
  • Self-raising flour

    • The self-raising flour in this recipe makes the cake light and fluffy.
    • Self-raising flour is a mixture of all-purpose flour and baking powder. In Ireland, it’s readily available in stores and commonly used in baking.
    • Learn How to Make Self-Raising Flour so that you can always have some ready to use.
  • Raisins

    • Raisins add fruity sweetness and textural interest.
  • Golden syrup

    • Golden syrup is a very popular baking ingredient in Ireland. We use it in cookies, steamed sponge puddings, and candy. It’s a thick, caramel-colored syrup often used in recipes where you would use corn syrup. Molasses and treacle are also sometimes used.
    • Golden syrup is made from sugar cane or sugar beets, whereas corn syrup is made from corn starch. Golden syrup has a buttery, rounded, slightly toffee-like flavor, while corn syrup has a straightforward sweet taste.
    • If you can’t find golden syrup where you live, check out our post to learn how to make your own golden syrup substitute!
  • Cinnamon

    • The warm, spicy, uniquely cozy flavor of ground cinnamon gives gur cake a delicious, comforting aroma and taste.
  • Nutmeg, ginger, and cloves

    • Each of these spices has a specific taste and smell that unite into a harmonious blend, giving gur cake its wonderfully robust character.
    • Nutmeg contributes earthiness and nuttiness, ginger brings zingy, citrusy heat, and cloves give the cake spicy sweetness.
    • For the most impactful flavor, make sure your spices are fresh!
  • Egg wash

    • An egg yolk whisked with four tablespoons of milk makes a glaze that gives the top of the gur cake the perfect golden-brown sheen.
    • We always use large eggs unless otherwise noted.

How to Make Traditional Irish Gur Cake

  • Prepare to bake: Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Butter and line the baking tin with parchment paper.
  • Make the filling: Combine the breadcrumbs, tea, flour, raisins, golden syrup, and spices in a bowl and let the mixture sit for 20 minutes.
  • Assemble the cake: 
    • Roll out half of the pie crust dough to a quarter-inch thickness. Trim to fit the pan, and place it in the pan.
    • Spread the prepared filling evenly over the dough.
    • Roll out the other half of the pie crust dough, trim it to fit the pan, and place the pastry lid on top of the filling. Prick all over with a fork and brush with egg wash.
  • Bake and serve: 
    • Bake for 45 minutes until the top is golden brown.
    • After it’s cooled completely, remove it and cut it into 16 squares.

A close-up of Irish Gum Cakes shows their golden flaky top and bottom crust, filled with moist breadcrumbs, spices, and sweet raisins.

Can I Make Irish Gur Cake in Advance?

  • Yes, you can make Irish Gur Cake in advance.
    • You can save time on baking day by making the elements of the cake ahead of time.
      • Make the pie crust dough, shape it into a disc, and wrap it well in cling film. Refrigerate it for up to two days or freeze for up to eight weeks.
      • Make the filling up to one day ahead and store it in an airtight container in the fridge. Let the filling come to room temperature before assembling and baking the gur cake.
    • You can also bake Irish Gur Cake in advance and keep it in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days before serving.

How to Store Irish Gur Cake

Store any leftover cake in an airtight container in the fridge or at room temperature for up to three days.

FAQs

  • How do I make sure my cake is moist?

    • Carefully measure the ingredients so you’re not inadvertently using more bread crumbs or flour than the recipe calls for.
    • Gently mix the breadcrumb mixture until just combined.
    • Take care not to overbake the gur cake.
  • How do I make sure my pastry doesn’t shrink?

    • Pastry shrinks if it’s too wet. If you add too much water, it will evaporate during baking and cause the crusts to shrink.
    • The solution is to add only the minimum amount of water that you need. If you feel your pastry dough is too dry, pull the dough together into a ball and lash it with water if needed.
  • Can I make some variations to this recipe??

    • Yes. You can use crumbs from a quick bread or muffins. Cinnamon, spice, or corn flavor would work well here.
    • Quick bread or muffin crumbs will be moister than regular bread crumbs so that the soaking step won’t be necessary.
    • For another variation, add one tablespoon of orange zest or a tablespoon of Irish whiskey or brandy to the filling mixture. You can also cover it with a layer of icing, dust it with powdered sugar, or sprinkle it with cinnamon and brown sugar.
    • You can also cover the top layer of the pie crust with a layer of icing, dust it with powdered sugar, or sprinkle it with cinnamon and brown sugar.

A generous square of Irish Gum Cakes is served with tea. The cake has flaky top and bottom crust, filled with moist breadcrumbs, spices, and sweet raisins.

Gemma’s Pro Chef Tips

  • Fresh breadcrumbs, not dried, are best for this recipe.
  • Instead of separate spices, you can use 1 ½ tablespoons of mixed spice. Make your own to use in cakes, muffins, and cookies.
  • Either golden or black raisins or sultanas will work in this recipe. You can also use an equal amount of any other dried fruit you prefer. If the fruit is large, chop before using.
  • You can replace the golden syrup with honey if that is what you have on hand.
  • This is a great grab-and-go snack, but it’s also delicious served with our Two-Ingredient Vanilla Ice Cream or whipped cream.
  • Store gur cake in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to three days.

More Irish Recipes

Traditional Irish Gur Cake Recipe

4.43 from 7 votes
Try our Traditional Irish Gur Cake Recipe that ensures a simple treat with sweet, buttery flavors, complemented by soft, flaky textures.
Author: Gemma Stafford
Servings: 16 servings
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Try our Traditional Irish Gur Cake Recipe that ensures a simple treat with sweet, buttery flavors, complemented by soft, flaky textures.
Author: Gemma Stafford
Servings: 16 servings

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Butter and line an 8-inch (20-cm) square baking pan and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, tea, flour, raisins, golden syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves. Set aside to soak for 20 minutes.
  • Roll out half of the pie crust to ¼ inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Trim to fit the bottom of the pan with it.
  • Spread the breadcrumb filling evenly over the pastry.
  • Roll out the remaining crust, trim to a square and place on top. Pick all over with a fork, then brush with egg wash.
  • Bake for 45 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown.
  • Let cool completely before cutting into 16 squares and serving. Store leftovers covered at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Recipe Notes

  • Fresh breadcrumbs, not dried, are best for this recipe.
  • Instead of separate spices, you can use 1 ½ tablespoons of mixed spice. Make your own to use in cakes, muffins, and cookies.
  • Either golden or black raisins or sultanas will work in this recipe. You can also use an equal amount of any other dried fruit you prefer. If the fruit is large, chop before using.
  • You can replace the golden syrup with honey if that is what you have on hand.
  • This is a great grab-and-go snack, but it's also delicious served with our Two-Ingredient Vanilla Ice Cream or whipped cream.
  • Store gur cake in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to three days.
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2 Comments
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Marti
Marti
1 month ago

We don’t drink tea or coffee so what can I substitute for the tea

About Us

Meet Gemma

About Us

Meet Gemma

Hi Bold Bakers! I’m Gemma Stafford, a professional chef originally from Ireland, a cookbook author, and the creator of Bigger Bolder Baking. I want to help you bake with confidence anytime, anywhere with my trusted and tested recipes and baking tips. You may have seen one of my 500+ videos on YouTube & TikTok or as a guest judge on Nailed It! on Netflix or the Best Baker in America on Food Network. No matter your skills, my Bold Baking Team & I want to be your #1 go-to baking authority.

 

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