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Spiced Date Bars // 1970s

Updated: May 5, 2020

Taken from 'The complete colour cookbook' edited by Gill Edden and published in 1977, this recipe is actually named 'Date Crunchies', yet these little bars of gold aren't crunchy at all!
They're soft and chewy, lightly spiced and naturally sweet without any added refined sugar. A lovely grown up traybake!
Original Recipe: 'Date Crunchies' (Book 9, 1977)
Speed: 40 mins | Makes: 10 bars


For the crust:

  • 100g wholemeal flour

  • 175g rolled oats

  • 225g butter or margarine

For the filling:

  • 225g dates, stoned and chopped

  • 2 tbsp. water

  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice

  • 1 tbsp. clear honey

  • A pinch of ground cinnamon



  1. Pre-heat oven to 180°C fan (350°F/Gas Mark 4).

  2. Put the flour and oats into a bowl. Rub in the butter or margarine.

  3. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth.

  4. Halve the mixture and press one half over the bottom of a greased 18 cm. / 7 inch square cake tin (pan).

  5. Simmer the chopped dates with the water until soft, then remove from the heat.

  6. Once the dates have cooled, stir in the lemon juice, honey and cinnamon.

  7. Spread the date mixture over the oat dough.

  8. Finally, cover this with a final layer of oat dough from the remaining amount. It may help to roll this out on a floured surface first, before picking up and covering the date layer in the tin as it can be difficult to press the top layer over the gooey date mixture (this is what we did!). Smooth over the top with a palette knife to make this as flat as possible.

  9. Bake in the centre of the preheated oven for 25 minutes.

  10. Cut into fingers while still warm, then leave to cool completely in the pan.

  11. Remove carefully and be sure to store away from cakes and biscuits (although we don't know why).


Original Recipe for ‘Date Crunchies'

'BOOK 9': The Complete Colour Cookbook (1977)

Edited By: Gill Edden

Publisher: Octopus Books Limited (59 Grosvenor Street, London, W1, England, U.K.)

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