Tuesday, May 17, 2011

May 8-9, 2011: Date & pecan slice

It's been a while since a seminar was held in my workplace, and even longer since I baked a treat to share around, so I made sure to step up with the latter when the former occurred last week.  For ideas I pulled out The Complete Book of Home Baking, a gift from one of my generous colleagues.  I gather that it's a second-hand copy, as the book was printed in 1993 and has very little presence online (although I found a couple of other books with the same name). The most fascinating feature of this book is that one of the people credited for recipe development is Donna Hay!  She's not listed as contributing to the styling, and certainly the look of this cookbook is light years from the work she's famous for.

The seminar was held on Monday morning so I held off on the dedicated chocolate chapter and browsed through the 'cakes and biscuits for every day'. I didn't have heaps of time to cook after our pub dinner, and thankfully the recipe for date bars didn't look too fiddly.  It's a pretty basic cake set-up - although it's eggless - with pecans and softened dates studded throughout. Expecting something a bit more dense and slice-like, I was surprised at how much it rose in the oven. It browned a lot as it baked and, un-iced, didn't look all that impressive.

Nevertheless this slice received many compliments when I shared it around.  The dates near melted into the buttery batter; the slice was moist and with a deep caramel flavour.  I'll definitely keep this recipe on hand for occasions that deserve a sweet treat but don't demand anything fancy-lookin'.

Date & pecan slice
(based on a recipe for date bars in The Complete Book of Home Baking)

300mL evaporated milk
200g pitted dried dates, chopped
1 1/2 cups plain flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
200g butter, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla essence
3/4 cup castor sugar
100g pecans, chopped

Preheat the oven to 180°C.  Paper-line or grease a 22cm x 30cm baking tray.

In a small saucepan, heat the evaporated milk until it is just about to boil.  Pour it over the dates and allow them to soak and soften as the milk cools.

Sift together the flour and baking powder in a small bowl.  In a large bowl, beat the butter until fluffy; beat in the sugar and vanilla.  Gradually beat the milk mixture and the flour mixture into the butter in turns, until all ingredients are well incorporated.  Fold through the pecans.

Pour the batter into the baking tray, gently smooth over the top and bake the slice for 20-25 minutes, until it's browned on top and it passes the skewer test.


  1. Pecans just go so well with sweet things like dates. This slice sounds delicious!

  2. I love dates, so that sounds delicious. A perfect not too fussy sweet to make. As you say, it's good to have recipes like this on hand. I think people really appreciate these kinds of slices, they're often comforting and familiar.

  3. I'm for anything eggless, easy, and with dates! I only wish I had more workmates to bake for!

  4. anything with dates and nuts and i'm there! I'm going to try that. I could eat some right now!!

  5. That looks so much like a recipe my Nan makes with dates and macadamias (its from the Womens Weekly Biscuits and Slices book though).

    No dates or pecans (or mock or chocolate!) here in the pacific though, so I'm enjoying eating vicariously through your posts :)

  6. Thanks everyone! I was not a date fan growing up but am making up for it now. If 'fruit is nature's candy', then dates are surely nature's caramel. :-)