from one generation to the next
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.