Hot Chocolate Gur Cake

gur cakeI was walking home one day last week when a friend called me and said without much preamble ‘you know about donkey’s gudge, don’t you?’ Pausing slightly to see if the noise of the A23 had made me mishear, I hedged my bets and said ‘refresh my memory…’

My friend said impatiently ‘you know, the Irish cake made of cake’ and I remembered that what his Cork based family knew as ‘donkey’s gudge’ was what other Irish people know as gur cake after the Dublin expression for wide boys or ‘gurriers’. It uses leftover stale fruit cake soaked in liquid and put between pastry to give baked goods a new lease of life. I immediately thought of Caitriona’s recipe here and didn’t think to ask why Cork and Waterford folk call it donkey’s gudge*.

I passed the recipe onto my friend who wanted to make the cake for his mum and didn’t think much more of it until on Easter Sunday I realised I was never going to be able to eat all the hot cross buns I’d made. I had some pastry from making pastiera for Easter and realised it would be a shame not to make gur cake.

I decided to give mine a further inauthentic twist by soaking my hot cross buns in chocolate milk and a splash of cream to enhance the dark chocolate of the buns I made. I simply melted a bar of chocolate into the milk so this would be an excellent way to use up any Easter eggs you’ve tired of simply eating out the wrapper absent mindedly.

Hot Chocolate Gur Cake (adapted from Wholesome Ireland)

  • 500g stale cake or hot cross buns
  • 250ml milk
  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 50ml cream
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 250g shortcrust pastry
  • 25g caster sugar

This is incredibly easy to make, especially since I used the shop bought pastry I had in the house. I have a knack of making pastry shrink and I need to spend a weekend making it when there’s no pressure and getting it right. Easter Sunday is not that time.

Start by crumbling up your cake or hot cross buns into a large bowl. Heat the milk in a pan on the stove, breaking your chocolate into it and stirring gently until it melts into a lovely hot chocolate. Pour it over the crumbs and add the cream and cinnamon and vanilla extract. Leave to absorb the liquid for about 20 minutes (which is co-incidentally how long it took me to do my washing up to have space to roll out pastry.)

Lightly flour your work surface and roll the pastry out to about 2-3mm thin. Cut it in half and carefully place one piece into a lined brownie tray. Mine was 23cm square and about 8cm deep. Prick the pastry well with a fork. Put the soaked crumb mixture on top of the pastry, flattening it down well and making sure it is right into the corners. Cover with the remaining pastry and again prick well with a fork. Sprinkle with the caster sugar.

I chilled my cake for 20 minutes in the fridge to prevent the pastry shrinking when it cooked, but if you’ve worked quickly with the pastry you could just put it straight into a 160℃ oven for 90 minutes or until the pastry is cooked but not golden.

Allow the cake to cool completely on a rack before cutting into squares. I ate mine the next morning for breakfast when I was tired and hungover after a late night over Easter dinner and it was just the ticket. Richer and smoother thanks to the chocolate than the fruit squares my aunt Kathleen used to make or the Christmas pudding version I’ve done before, I really enjoyed this cake. I still have no idea how it got christened donkey’s gudge so if anyone can elaborate, please do!

*I believe people in the rest of Ireland call it Chester Cake but I couldn’t find any link to the city of the same name.

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6 replies
  1. Caitriona - Wholesome Ireland
    Caitriona - Wholesome Ireland says:

    That, my friend, is a perfect Gur Cake. The trick with using up gur is to make it with whatever you have leftover; which is exactly what you’ve done here. Of course we were never Gurriers! *cough* Chester Cake is used to describe the cake as it’s sold in Dublin shops and supermarkets believe it or not. I can pick up a slice of Chester Cake in my local SuperValu but never a slice of Gur Cake. I think that it still has the connotations of being the sweepings of the bakery floor. Cxxx

  2. Miss South
    Miss South says:

    @Alicia: good point. I hadn’t made that connection at all. There’s not much new in the world is there?

    @Caitriona: I feel ridiculously pleased to have your approval here! The use of the differing names made me laugh. There’s nothing quite like Irish class politics and baked goods!

  3. misspiggy
    misspiggy says:

    This looks utterly delicious. It seems to be begging for a bit of brandy to be added; what do you think?

  4. Rachel
    Rachel says:

    One of my pals got thrown out of the local shop for asking for donkey’s gudge, the shop-owner was highly indignant at her cheek.

  5. Miss South
    Miss South says:

    Miss Piggy: I like your thinking. A wee toot of brandy would be fabulous here.

    Rachel: that made me laugh. I remember once, just after moving to England, waltzing into a chippy after a few drinks and asking for a large poke. The owner did not believe it was a standard Belfast expression for chips and threw me out. Never dared order an ice cream after that either…

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