Family Recipes ~ Date and Oat Slice

A recipe passed down generations from the Scott side of my family. Buttery oat shortbread base layered with a sweet filling of caramel-like dates. 

You. Guys.

Oh. My. Goodn.....

These bars, they will BLOW your socks off and if they don't, you must not be wearing socks. Buttery oat shortbread pastry crust with a ripple of sweet dates which taste exactly like toffee caramel. Topped with even more shortbread pastry stuff, the bars literally melt in your mouth.

It's quite amazing that this exact recipe is 60 years old! In those days, there was no mucking around with fancy recipes and equipment, just butter, sugar and an oven.

This is quite a different recipe to the "norm" on BtD, this recipe has been passed down the generations from my gran and now to me. It is from the Scottish side of my family and when my gran was growing up, during and after the war, she kept a recipe book, full of classic and "interesting" recipes. She gave the book to me a couple of years ago and having read it cover-to-cover, inside out and back-to-front, all of the recipes were so different to the ones nowadays. I can't believe how easily overlooked this gem of a recipe is, even though I adore dates, I was very skeptical about these bars. 

However, my gran asked me to make them, to rejig her memory. I quickly found the book and rustled them up. As they were baking in the oven, the kitchen filled with gloriously buttery toffee smells which I was positive I have smelt before. I don't even like shortbread but as soon as I bit into the slightly warm gooey bar, my mouth was flooded with flavour.

These bars are so easy to make and will probably remind you of your granny's or mum's baking. From about the age of 5, I started baking with my dad and my mum would watch from afar. This will probably sound so sad but my parents rarely baked for my sister and I as I was always in the kitchen baking up either some inedible mess or a chocolate cake with my dad. But, I do remember my granny baking a plain butter cake and topping it with either water icing or lasing of Nutella. That cake was such a treat! Once a month, she would give us "the red tin" which contained the freshly baked cake and the 5 of us would have a slice each, always with a glass of milk.

These date slices just work so well, the contrast of the crust and filling is so moreish and rich and they are so easy to make. These bars contain such simple ingredients so it is vital that you use the best quality ingredients. Fresh unsalted butter and caramely dates add so much flavour and decadence to these slices that it will be hard to stop eating them after one bite! 


Urgh... They are so good!

qotd ~ what is your earliest memory of your family's baking?

Date and Oat Slice
Posted by Eve
Makes 16 squares or 12 slices

  • 8 ounces pitted dried dates
  • 1/4 pint water
  • 4 ounces self-raising flour
  • 4 ounces rolled oats
  • 4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 ounces golden caster sugar
  • 2 ounces granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda

  1. Put the dates and the water into a saucepan and bring to the boil on a high heat. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until the dates have softened into a thick puree. Put the dates into a bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes until cooler. 
  2. Preheat the oven to 170ºc/ 160ºc fan/ gas mark 3 and grease and line a 20cm square cake tin with greaseproof paper and butter.
  3. Put the flour, oats, butter, caster sugar, granulated sugar and baking soda into a bowl and using your hand, mix and crumble the ingredients until they are well combined and have the texture of large damp breadcrumbs or a crumbly pastry.
  4. Press half of the mixture into the prepared tin and top with the cooler date filling. Spread the filling all over the base evenly with an offset spatula or spoon. Top with the remaining oaty mixture and press down lightly.
  5. Bake for 30 - 35 minutes until golden. Leave to cool in the tin for 20 minutes before slicing into squares or slices. Leave the slices on a wire rack to cool completely before eating.


Store the slices in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to 1 week. 


  1. I love old recipes like this! They look so good!

    1. Thanks Dorothy, old recipes just bring back so many memories!

  2. Your family has good taste, while simple this recipe is very indulgent, sometimes the best and tastiest recipes are those timeless classics, that bring sweet memories with every bite you take!

    1. Thanks Katalina, these bars are so divine yet so simple, it is surprising how memories are brought back by taste. x


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