Food for thought and recipes for life

Earlier in the year the organ restoration fund committee flagged a proposal to put together a book made up of anecdotes, stories, poems, reflections etc that can be linked to a favourite recipe or food.
          There has been some interest in this and so it was decided to go ahead by placing a first instalment into the Oscailt Magazine with the hope that other congregation members may follow with their own contributions and perhaps if there was a good response then after a period of time a collation of articles and recipes could be put together, printed in simple book form and sold as a fund raiser.
          Again, this is just an idea and may not take off fully but in the meantime you might enjoy reading the contributions and even try the recipes!

Thanks again for your support

Alison Claffey.

GUR CAKE Gur cake (1) is a pastry confection traditionally associated with Dublin. Also known as chester cake it 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/bread crumbs, dried fruits (sultana raisins etc.), and a sweetener/binder. It has traditionally been a cheap confection, made from bakery leftovers, hence its name, a contraction of " gutter cake" spoken in a Dublin accent.
          Gur Cake (2) The Dublin slang term ‘gurrier’ conjures up the image of a local brand of young lad, generally thought of as being up to no good. To ‘go on the gur’ meant to mitch (or skip school in other words) and so-called gur cake, made traditionally from leftover stale bread or cake, was one of the cheapest things to buy from the baker, so young lads ‘on the gur’ would buy pieces of gur cake to fuel their school skipping activities.
          Growing up in a large family our ‘daily bread’ tally would often come to four or five loaves.
          There were milk pans, turnovers, batch loaves, soda breads and they were happily munched on for breakfast, school lunch, in between snacks and at supper time. Leftover and stale bread was not wasted. It was recycled before recycling was invented and was used as breadcrumbs, and to make deserts such as bread and butter pudding, queen of puddings and Gur cake. The unwanted crusts of bread were thrown up onto the roof of the garden shed to feed the birds as in my Mother’s world every one of God’s creatures deserved a piece of the action.
          Gur cake was a favourite with our friends too and as teenagers we happily sat in the kitchen chatting and drinking tea with a wedge of gur cake. Sisters and brothers in-law fondly remember eating gur cake and drinking a cup of tea when they dropped in to the house. I think gur cake helped seal many a relationship.
          Time passed and as grandchildren came along and visited their grandparents, a slice of gur cake was always looked forward to at tea time. My mother’s gur cake reached across generations. There was a great thriftiness to her housekeeping combined with a healthy and respectful attitude towards food. Food was always thanked for, enjoyed, savoured and shared with family and friends and if at all possible, never wasted.
          Gur Cake is a simple and economical thing to make which, these days, makes it seem like an old cake for new times.


75g/3oz Plain Flour
350g/12oz Bread (day old, with crusts removed)
Cold Water or tea
1 Level Teaspoon Baking Powder
225g/8oz Dark Muscovado Sugar
50g/2oz Butter or Margarine
2 Dessertspoons Mixed Spice
225g/8oz Raisins or Sultanas
1 Large Egg (beaten)
150ml/¼ pt Milk
Rind of 1 Lemon
Pastry (below)


Preheat oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas 5. Grease a small roasting tin or a tin 10” x 12” x 2”.
Cover the bread with cold water/tea and allow to stand while making the filling and the pastry.
Make the pastry (below) and cover, leave in the ’fridge.
Put the flour and baking powder into a bowl, add the sugar and rub in the margarine or butter. Mix in the mixed spice.
Squeeze the bread dry of the water/tea and place in a bowl, mix in the fruit. Add to the flour mixture and beat.
Add the beaten egg and milk and stir, and then add the lemon rind. Leave aside.
Divide the pastry in half. Roll out one half to fit the baking tin. Transfer the bread/fruit mixture evenly over this.
Cover with the other half of the pastry. Prick through top pastry with a fork or knife.
Bake for about an hour. Leave in tin to cool. Cut in squares and sprinkle with icing sugar if liked.


350g/12oz Plain Flour
Pinch of salt
175g/6oz Margarine
Cold Water


Put flour and salt into a bowl, coarsely rub in the margarine.
Add sufficient water to make a soft dough. Lightly knead.
Pastry is best chilled for at least 30 minutes before rolling.