Date and oat slice recipe

Boiling the dates in orange juice uplifts their sweetness and keeps the filling moist and juicy. The biscuit (cookie) layer below the dates becomes a little soft, while the top layer gets crumbly-crunchy, with pumpkin seeds adding an extra bite and toasted flavour. The warming cardamom with the sweet orange-plumped dates and the wholesome warmth of the oats all come together wonderfully. Great as a snack, in lunchboxes, or even for breakfast with yogurt.

If you can’t find oat flour, blitz up oats in a food processor or blender until they are as fine as possible, to form a flour.

date and oat slice recipe
Philippa Langley

MAKES ABOUT 24 SQUARES, DEPENDING ON SIZE

180g (6oz/¾ cup/1½ sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for the tin (pan)
500g (1lb 2oz/3¾ cups) pitted dates
300g (10½oz/1¼ cups) water
finely grated zest of 2 oranges, plus 300g (10½oz/1¼ cups) orange juice
200g (7oz/1⅓ cups) oat flour (or see recipe introduction)
250g (9oz/2⅔ cups) rolled oats
½ tsp sea salt flakes
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1½ tsp ground cardamom
4 tbsp milled flaxseeds (linseeds)
60g (2oz/scant ½ cup) pumpkin seeds
100g (3½oz/½ cup) light brown muscovado or coconut sugar
100g (3½oz/generous ⅓ cup) date syrup

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Butter the base and sides of a 30 x 20 x 3cm (12 x 8 x 1¼in) baking tin (pan), then line them with baking parchment, so that it comes over the edges (to easily remove it later).
2. Place the dates in a saucepan with the water, zest and 200g (7oz / generous ¾ cup) of the juice. Cook over a medium heat, stirring now and again to stop them catching, until the dates are soft, have absorbed the liquids and formed a loose paste. You don’t want it to be too dry and you’ll need to mash it towards the end to help it along, if the dates being used are on the dry side.
3. In a bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients from the oat flour to the pumpkin seeds.
4. In a saucepan, bring the sugar, date syrup, butter and remaining orange juice just to the boil, to melt the butter. Remove from the heat, mix the dry ingredients into the butter and sugar mixture and combine well.
5. Put 600g (1lb 5oz) of the oat mix into the prepared tin (pan) and spread it out with your fingertips, then even it out using a cranked or step palette knife or the back of a spoon. Spread over the date paste, again using a cranked or step palette knife, or a regular kitchen knife, to even it out. Finish by crumbling over the remaining oat mix, lightly pressing it into the dates.
6. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 140°C/275°F/gas mark 1, rotate the tin (pan) and bake for a further 8–10 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Leave to cool in the tin (pan).
7. Remove from the tin (pan) by lifting it out with the baking parchment on to a chopping board, then slice into squares. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week in the fridge. These freeze well, too, for at least 1 month.

VARIATION
Try mixed berry flapjacks. Replace the date centre with 400–500g (14oz–1lb 2oz / 2¾–3¼ cups) blueberries, raspberries or blackberries, or a mix, slightly mashed with a little sugar, to taste (not strawberries, they are too watery).


Recipe from The Natural Baker: A new way to bake using the best natural ingredients by Henrietta Inman.