Classic, old-fashioned date squares just like Grandma made. Nice and thin, with the perfect balance of date filling to crumb!
I had some dates leftover After making my Sticky Toffee Bundt Cake recently, so I knew it was time to make some delicious date squares!
These are the classic, old-fashioned, bake-sale, church dinner, pot-luck, just like your Grandma made kind of date squares. They are probably thinner than many you see these days, but in my mind, they offer the perfect bite, with the crumb and date filling in perfect balance.
Oats - these date squares will need old-fashioned, large-flake rolled oats. I haven't tested this recipe with quick-cooking oats. They may work, though as they are milled finer, the resulting bars would lack the lovely texture of the larger-flake oats.
Dates - Delicious date square have been made for years with basic and inexpensive, "baking aisle" dried dates. That's what I've used here.
Other ingredients you will need - Brown sugar, white sugar, salted butter, baking soda, all-purpose flour.
- You can make these squares as a small batch in an 8-inch square baking pan, as I have done here, or double the recipe to make a 9x13-inch pan of squares. (Just use the handy "2X" button above the ingredients in the recipe card below and it will be calculated automatically for you!).
- The 8-inch pan makes date squares that are a wee bit thinner than what you'll end up with in the 9x13-inch pan.
- There is no exact ratio to split the crumb between the base and topping. It probably ends up 60/40 or 2/3 to 1/3, with the larger amount devoted to the base. You want an even thin layer for your base, with no bare spots, so add what you need to achieve that, and save the rest for the topping.
- Yes, date squares freeze well!
Old-Fashioned Date Squares
- 1/2 cup dried dates (chopped and tightly packed to measure)
- 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 tsp lemon juice
Base and topping:
- 3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp large flake, old-fashioned oats
- 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar (packed)
- 6 Tbsp salted butter (cold, cut into 6 pieces)
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 Tbsp hot water
- Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8x8-inch baking pan and line the bottom and two sides with parchment paper, allowing the paper to extend over the edges by an inch or so (to use as handles to lift out of the pan later on). *Alternately, you can double the ingredients and make in a 9x13-inch baking pan.
- Make the date filling: Combine the dates, white sugar and water in a medium saucepan. Stir to combine. Heat over medium heat, stirring regularly. Bring mixture just to a full boil. Remove from heat. Stir in lemon juice. Allow to cool almost completely before proceeding. (If you put hot filling over your flour/butter crumb, the butter will melt and change the texture of the base. It will cool more quickly if you remove from the saucepan to a bowl and stir or you can even pop into the fridge for a few minutes).
- In a large bowl, stir together the oats, flour and light brown sugar. Add the cold butter pieces to the flour mixture and cut in with a pastry cutter, until the butter pieces are evenly pea-sized. (Alternately, use your fingertips to rub it into the flour mixture). In a small bowl, stir together the baking soda and hot water until the soda is dissolved. Sprinkle over the flour/butter mixture and stir in.
- Add about half of the flour mixture to your prepared baking pan. Pat into an even layer, adding a bit more of the flour mixture, as needed, to make a thin, even layer. *It doesn't need to be exact, but roughly 60% of the flour mixture on the bottom and 40% for the topping. Spoon the cooled date mixture over-top and spread out evenly. Scatter the remaining flour mixture evenly over-top.
- Bake in preheated oven for 18-20 minutes, until golden and set. Baking time should be similar for both an 8x8-inch pan or a 9x13-inch pan. Remove the pan from the oven to a cooling rack, allowing them to cool completely in the pan, before lifting out by the parchment "handles" to a cutting board. Cut into 2-inch x 2-inch squares.
- Store in an airtight container or freeze, for longer storage.