Chef Clark

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Page 6

The Bakehouse

There’s an old Dublin term used to describe a young boy, a messer, somebody who gets up to mischief. That word is “gurrier”. In the early 1900s this was a kid who probably lived in the city center tenements, they’d duck and dive around the city center, grabbing food as and where they could. In the bakery, any cake cuttings and stale bread on the floor at the end of the day went to the gurriers, who would bring them home to transform into a treat (Gur Cake) that is still made to this day in Manning’s Bakery. If you’d like to read more about life in the tenements at the turn of the century, see can you get your hands on a copy of “Gur Cake And Coal Blocks” by Éamonn MacThomáis. It’s not in print anymore but I know there are copies in public libraries around the country and I'm sure there is a copy in Marsh’s Library and the Trinity College library too.

Gur cake is a pastry confection traditionally associated with Dublin, Ireland. Known as Chester cake in other areas, and gudge or donkey's gudge in Cork, it is similar to what is termed flies’ graveyard in parts of the UK and consists of a thick layer of filling between two thin layers of pastry. The filling is a dark brown paste, containing a mixture of cake/breadcrumbs, dried fruits (sultana raisins, etc.), and a sweetener/binder. It has traditionally been a cheap confection, made from bakery leftovers.

*Its name is thought to be a contraction of "gurrier cake". Children who skipped school were known as gurriers and the act of skipping school became known as "on the gur". As Gur cake was made of leftovers, it was one of the cheaper items in bakeries and, therefore, one of the few items affordable to a child 'on the gur'.

In bakeries, it is typically sold cut into squares of about 8 cm by 3 cm thick. In Dublin, Gur cake is regarded as symbolic of working-class areas, being highlighted in books such as Gur Cake and Coal Blocks (1976) by historian Éamonn Mac Thomáis.

​Gur cake was an inexpensive but delicious cake popular throughout Ireland. It's different in each bakery, depending on the baker's choice of spices or the type of leftover cakes used in the mix that day.

​At The Bakehouse they aim to offer traditional, flavorsome, homemade Irish foods and baked goods. Classic food from a simpler time, that our parents and grandparents grew up on. The sort of food that gives comfort like a good hug. Simple....but epic all at once.

"Our foods and baked goods are freshly prepared in our kitchen and bakery in Dublin City Centre. Every day we lovingly bake all the bread and cakes, we make all the soups, sauces, and relishes, etc. to make sure we give you the best and freshest home-cooked flavors. We're located on the Dublin Docklands in the heart of the International Financial Services Centre – this location is within one of the most beautiful historic buildings in Dublin. Every day, we love serving our lovely loyal customers along with the many tourists visiting CHQ and have something to enjoy for any time of day."

"Return to Dublin"

[Issue 2 of volume 1]

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Gur Cakes (Makes 16 squares)

*Its name is thought to be a contraction of "gurrier cake". Children who skipped school were known as gurriers and the act of skipping school became known as "on the gur".


12 ounces of porter cake

(Porter cake is a type of moist fruit cake made with porter ale. Its flavors develop and get deeper over time and it tends to taste better a day or two after first made).

1/2 cup of all-purpose flour

1/2 cup of brown sugar

2 teaspoons of equally mixed nutmeg, mace, and cinnamon

Extra dried dates, raisins, and figs1 large egg

1/2 cup of milk

12 ounces of short crust pastry

1 ounce of sugar

2 eight-inch by eight-inch rolled out short crust pastry sheets

Short crust pastry ingredients:

12 ounces of all-purpose flour

A pinch of salt

6 ounces, (12 tablespoons) o butter

Cold water

Shortcrust pastry:

Put the flour and salt into a bowl and cut in the butter.

Add enough of the water to make a soft dough and lightly knead it.

Chill the pastry until you're ready to roll it out.


Mix the porter cake, flour, sugar, spices, and dried fruit in a food processor until it becomes like a stiff paste. Add the egg and milk and mix again.

Grease an 8" x 8" cake pan. Line the bottom with one layer of the pastry. Spread the filling over the top. Cover with a second layer of pastry. Using a fork, poke holes in the top of the pastry. Brush with a little milk and sprinkle with sugar. Press a buttered piece of heavy-duty foil on top of the pastry to prevent it from rising while it cooks.

Bake at 355 degrees for 40 minutes. Allow to cool in the cake tin. Turn out of the pan and cut into 2" x 2" squares.

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