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Soft Date and Oat Bars

Date and Oat Bars

Date and Oat Bars

I don’t have a sweet tooth, but after receiving a copy of “Sweet” by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh for Christmas, I added post it notes to 3/4 of the pages with great anticipation, dreaming of delicious desserts, cakes, cookies and preserves.

I have to confess at this point that I have had mixed results making Ottolenghi recipes. Before you jump to his defence, I must say I love his philosophy, his ideas and enthusiasm, but I’ve been disappointed by many recipes that I’ve made from his books, so disappointed that I now rarely take them off my bookshelf.  The recipes in “Sweet” which Ottolenghi co-authored with Aussie chef Helen Goh are unchartered territory for me, so finally, at a whim, I tested my first choice, Soft Date and Oat Bars.

The preamble to the recipes likens these oat laden bars to British flapjacks, a sweet and chewy coffee shop staple which I developed quite a taste for we last visited the UK, but these are much much better than that. Yes there are oats like a flapjack, but this recipe also has seeds and nuts and fruit, sending it in the direction of a commercial packaged muesli bar, but again, much much better.

It may seem to be a waste of time roasting the nuts and toasting the seeds when they are going into the oven mixed into the batter, but I believe it’s the crunchy textural element and toasty depth of flavour that makes all the difference here, so don’t be tempted to eliminate that step. The remainder of the recipe is fairly straightforward, melt and mix.

I made a few modifications to the recipe to avoid having to make a dash to the shops, but judging by the speed this first batch of bars disappeared, it’s a recipe worth making again and again.

My kitchen is around 26C most of the time so the bars were quite soft stored at room temperature. We preferred their firm but chewy texture straight from the fridge.

Soft Date and Oat Bars

50g raw almonds, skin on

50g raw cashews

200g rolled oats (not instant oats)

35g pumpkin seeds

35f sunflower seeds

15g sesame seeds

120g pitted medjool dates, diced

200g unsalted butter, diced

180g raw sugar

75g golden syrup

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon sea salt flakes

Preheat the oven to 170C fan forced.

Oil a slab tin, 26cm X 20cm and line with baking paper.

Put the almonds and cashews in a baking tray in a single layer. Roast for 10 minutes or until lightly golden. Allow to cool a little then roughly chop into chunks.

Place the seeds in a dry frying pan and tossing the pan frequently, toast the seeds until golden.

Process 80g of the oats so they are chopped very small but not powdery.

In a large bowl combine the whole oats, chopped oats, nuts, seeds and chopped dates, cinnamon and salt.

Mix well to combine. Use you fingers to break up any clumps of dates.

Put the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a small pan and stir over a medium heat until the butter is melted.

Remove from the heat, add the lemon juice then pour the mixture over the dry ingredients.

Mix to thoroughly combine.

Press the mixture evenly into the slab tin with the back of a spoon.

Bake for 35 minutes until bubbling and golden brown, about 35 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 30 minutes before cutting into bars.

About ladyredspecs

I live in sunny Brisbane, Australia. My love of good food drives me as a cook, a reader, a traveller, an artist and but mostly as an eater. I cooked professionally for many years but have no formal training. Simply guided by a love of eating good food, respect for ingredients and an abhorrence of artificial additives, I cook instinctively applying the technical know how acquired by experience. I hope you enjoy what I share Sandra AKA ladyredspecs

25 comments on “Soft Date and Oat Bars

  1. ginphoria
    July 27, 2018

    These sounds yummy!! I love dates 😊

    Like

  2. Francesca
    April 2, 2018

    These bars sound so healthy you could really live off them.
    I’ve been following the discussion re Ottolenghi. I’ve had a few successes with his cakes, but I find his savoury dishes tend to mix too many things into what could be a simpler recipe. I don’t like his use of maple syrup in savoury things for example- it seems to lack authenticity- and some of his combos are totally weird- such as mixing soba noodles with mango. I’m hoping you discover more gems in this book Sandra.

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      April 3, 2018

      I know Ottolenghi has a lot of fans and all credit to him for helping get the Brits eating fresh greens but I agree with all of your observations. I also find the flavour of most of his recipe unbalanced. As written, for me, the balance of sweet savoury and acid is out and that’s why I added lemon juice to these, to cut the sugar and syrup hit. Having said that, this is a great bake

      Liked by 1 person

      • Francesca
        April 3, 2018

        Thanks for that explanation Sandra re sweet savoury and acid. Now I’ll be checking Ottolenghi in a new light. Cutting the sugar hit with lemon is a great idea.

        Like

  3. Simona
    March 31, 2018

    …as always love reading about your cooking adventures … and the ‘Energy Hit’ with all those seeds and nuts, I just had to leave a message. I will consider making your amended recipe! well done … and like many I too love Ottolenghi’s simplicity in foods I have Ottolenghi’s – The Cookbook and I’m afraid like you I have amended alot of the recipes … as some were just missing that ‘Zing’ for our taste …

    Liked by 2 people

    • ladyredspecs
      March 31, 2018

      Hi Simona, do try the soft date and oat bars they’re very moreish. My major criticism of Ottolenghi’s recipes is they are under spiced/seasoned, but then recipes are really only one person’s guidelines. Thanks for commenting…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Debi @ An Evolving Life
    March 31, 2018

    Who doesn’t like a good flapjack? I’ve had the same experience with Ottolenghi – hit or miss recipes. I love the food philosophy, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ladyredspecs
      March 31, 2018

      These are much more than the average flapjack and worth trying. I need to catch up on my reading, I think I’m a few posts behind….

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Sherry
    March 31, 2018

    yes i find many cookbooks disappointing. i wonder if they actually test the recipes? it seems not, unlike good old women’s weekly books where you know they test them several times.:) these sound very healthy i must say. good for the digestive system i bet. cheers S

    Liked by 1 person

    • ladyredspecs
      March 31, 2018

      A couple of years ago I did some research about recipe testing. When an author receives an advance from a publisher they can chose whether they use some of that payment to have recipes tested or pocket the cash. It seems most rely on their own resources and a bit like we bloggers, some are more rigorous than others. It is disappointing in the extreme when you the cookbook user has greater critical judgement than the recipe writer. These taste great and are full of fibre. Happy Easter Sherry

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Yvonne
    March 31, 2018

    Right, this gets saved for when I get back home, late April.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Gather and Graze
    March 30, 2018

    So sad when cookbooks don’t live up to expectations, but pleased to hear that you’ve had success with with ‘Sweet’ so far. I’ve been eyeing off this one lately in the bookshops, but for some reason keep hesitating… so many cookbooks on the shelf already. Love this mix of seeds, nuts and dates – yum!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Michelle
    March 30, 2018

    Beautiful books. But I have had extremely mixed results with Ottolenghi recipes also.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. chef mimi
    March 30, 2018

    I’ve heard the same complaint about Ottolenghi’s books. Unless it was you! I don’t enjoy sweets, either, as much as savory, but I think that’s really funny that you’ve bookmarked over half of the cookbook! These bars sound good.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ladyredspecs
      March 30, 2018

      Realistically Mimi, I’ll probably only make one or two recipes but is some great inspiration in “Sweet.” These are delicious.

      Liked by 1 person

      • chef mimi
        March 30, 2018

        Good to know! The problem with me, is if there is something sweet around, I remember it at about 9 PM… and can’t stop gorging! Sad.

        Liked by 2 people

  10. chefkreso
    March 29, 2018

    Yummy and great after a work out 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  11. katechiconi
    March 29, 2018

    These sound absolutely wonderful, and as it happens, I have every ingredient except the sesame seeds. Would you say they’re vital for the flavour profile? I’m goig to save this one to do another day; right now, I have to bake the MIL a carrot and orange cake for her birthday 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • ladyredspecs
      March 29, 2018

      We’re working our way through another batch of these at the moment so I can say with confidence the sesame is vital to the deliciousness. I have a soft spot for carrot cake myself so I think your MIL is one lucky lady

      Liked by 1 person

      • katechiconi
        March 29, 2018

        Right then, sesame seeds on the shopping list for Saturday. Thank you!

        Liked by 1 person

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