Date & apple slices

Y

ears ago, there was a bakery back home that has since become the stuff of legends for those of us lucky enough to grow up with it in the village. The building is a pizza place now, but during my childhood it was a sugar-laden Aladdin’s cave of cakes and pastry and huge triangle slices of the best caramel shortbread I’ve ever had. I mourn for what used to be whenever I walk past now and the street smells of grease rather than sugar and butter.

DataAppleSliceMPerched beside the pavement, roughly at the halfway point on the walk to school, the village bakery smelt so good it was basically impossible to stroll past without at the very least slowing down to take in the aromas of fresh bread,  cheese straws, and a plethora of biscuits. A tiny room, there was only just enough space for a small round table and two chairs, tucked underneath a pin board that covered all aspects of village life: craft fairs, church services dance classes. It was old-fashioned, without the pretense you get these days in bakeries that declare themselves “artisanal”; all crisp paper bags and motherly staff.

The loaves of bread I used to buy most mornings on the way to high school for about a year – I was chubby for a reason – were still warm at 8am, and perfect on their own. The marshmallow cones were a regular childhood treat, and those caramel shortbreads were out of this world. But for true decadence, it was all about the date slice.

Don’t get me wrong, the dates slices weren’t a sophisticated affair. A hefty slab, they were essentially two hunks of shortbread sandwiched together with a thick, sticky date puree, and sprinkled with sugar. Healthy? No. Delicious? Yes.

Years on, it’s up to us to recreate the treats from our childhoods. Here, the humble date slice is tarted up a bit, making the most of the end of Bramley apple season and taking on a flapjack-y twist with the addition of oats.

Date & apple slice

Yields about 32 pieces. Will keep for up to three days.

Ingredients

250g unsalted butter
250g plain flour
200g oats
75g granulated or caster sugar
75g light brown sugar
250g pitted, chopped dates
2 large Bramley apples
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Pinches of cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg

Method

  1. In a large bowl, rub together the butter, flour, oats, and sugars. until they come together into large crumbs. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Line a large tray – about 12×9 inches, around 2 inches tall – with baking parchment. Pour about 2/3 of the mixture into the tray, compact it with your hands or the back of a spoon, and transfer to the fridge.
  3. While the base chills, peel and chop the apples, into cubes roughly 1.5cm across. Cook the chopped apples and dates, along with the vanilla extract, over medium-high heat until the apples are soft (but not mushy!)
  4. Spread the apple and date mixture over the base, and top with remaining crumble. From a height, sprinkle with small* pinches of cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Bake for about 30 minutes, until golden.
* Although a light dusting of autumn spices brings a pleasant warmth, any more than this can make the slices taste a bit like chutney.These are the dates I used for the recipe – super cheap!
Filed under All Recipes, Autumn/Winter, Biscuits & Cookies, Desserts

The lady behind The Dinner Bell! I'm that person who doesn't let you leave their flat without eating something, and will probably press a parcel of cookies or cake into your hands as you head to the door. I’m a sub-editor by day, avid book-reader by night, and octopus fan always. I've returned to Norfolk after eight years away, but little bits of my heart still belong to London, where I lived for almost fives years, and Sheffield, where I went to uni and finally lost my bumpkin accent.

2 Comments

  1. Lynsey Taylor

    Have all these ingredients in my cupboard right now so can’t wait to get home and make these !! Dates provide such a caramely, sticky sweet goodness, I love the idea of these bars! L x

    • Lynsey Taylor

      Just made these and they are delicious! Sooo moreish and taste sooo good warm from the oven! L x

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