Urb’n’Spice Ultimate Recipes Series
In my family, Ultimate Date Oatmeal Squares have a long history. My father-in-law loved these squares and every time we visited, a batch of these squares was always a must-have.
My research indicates that this old-fashioned dessert has been popular for a very long time in Canada, particularly in Western Canada, Quebec and Newfoundland. Date squares are made using layers of oat crumb crust and a date purée filling. These delicious squares are also known as matrimonial cake. I thought that this was an unusual name until I understood the significance of the two layers of oat crumble holding the dates together. Apparently, these layers symbolize the couple courting and then completing that bond in marriage (I suppose it made sense back then).
I have made this recipe for The Ultimate Date Oatmeal Squares for many years. I have always used traditional ingredients such as all-purpose flour, brown sugar and unsalted butter, which always provided a delicious result! In this post, I made modifications to this old fashioned recipe and have adapted it to make a gluten-free and dairy-free version with no loss of flavour, texture or overall appearance. I have provided both recipe versions with the gluten-free and dairy-free ingredients listed first and the traditional ingredients following. Both deliver a great result.
Ultimate Date Oatmeal Squares
CHEF TALK: I use quick cooking oatmeal in this recipe because it helps to create a crumb mixture that blends well into the fat (butter or coconut oil). Sometimes using whole oats result in a crumble that does not bind as well and this is not the result you want. In my opinion, this recipe has a perfect balance of crumb mixture to date filling.
Yield: Approximately 20 – (2 inch by 2 inch) squares
Equipment: 9” x 13” pan
- 2 cups (365 g) dates, chopped
- ½ cup (125 ml) water (or juice)
- 1 Lemon, juice (about ¼ cup/63 ml.)
- ½ cup coconut sugar (75 g) or brown sugar (95 g)
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups (170 g) quick cooking oatmeal
- 1 ½ cups gluten-free (205 g) or all-purpose flour (210 g)
- 1 cup coconut sugar (150 g) or brown sugar (190 g), packed
- ½ teaspoon (4 g) baking soda
- ¾ cup coconut butter (160 g) or unsalted butter (170 g), soft
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 350oF /325oF for Convection oven
- Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Line it with parchment paper using the Parchment Pinwheel method (see below).
- For the Date Filling: Simmer dates in water until soft. Add the lemon juice, sugar and vanilla. Cool.
- For Oatmeal Crumb topping: Mix dry ingredients together, then add butter until crumbly.
- Pat 2/3 of the crumb mixture into pan. Press this base firmly.
- Spread with the cooled date mixture. Sprinkle the dates with the remaining crumb mixture on top. Press lightly.
- Bake @ 350oF. for 30 – 35 minutes, or until the topping is golden. Cool completely. Cut into squares. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days or freeze for longer storage.
WHAT ELSE CAN I DO WITH THIS RECIPE?
APRICOT SQUARES: For a variation, use Dried Apricot Paste filling in place of the date filling. Bake, slice and store as per the instructions above.
Please CLICK the link above to access my Urb’n’Spice LEARNING TIPS, which are listed alphabetically on the Learning Tips blog post under the following subheadings:
- Favourite Kitchen Tools: Spatula
- Parchment Paper
How to Make A Pinwheel Parchment Liner
Purpose: For lining baking pans, loaf pans, bread pans, etc. and for easy removal of squares for slicing chilled baked
Method: Set the baking pan or loaf pan on top of a piece of parchment that is approximately 3” larger on all sides than the actual pan (the same as the height of the pan). Take a pencil and trace the bottom of the pan onto the parchment for accurate corner cutting. Then, taking a pair of scissors, cut to the marked corner in alternating directions (top or side) to achieve a pinwheel effect. Press the parchment wheel into the greased loaf pan and arrange it to fit neatly into the corners of the pan.
CHEF TIP: In the case of convection ovens, there is an importan point to consider. Convection oven baking is far more effective when using light coloured baking sheets – dark coloured baking sheets often have the problem of over-browning your baked goods. If you own only dark coloured baking sheets – do not despair! Place a sheet of parchment on the baking sheets and you are good to go!
More Urb’n’Spice Ultimate recipes:
If you try my recipe for The Ultimate Date Squares, please leave me a comment below with your feedback. Don’t forget to pin this recipe for later!
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