Date Slice is a lovely tasty treat, which is easy to make and is packed with nutrition courtesy of the dates within.
This recipe for Date Slice is super easy, super quick, super tasty and very nutritious.
Date Slice is one of those recipes which mum and I would often make together when I was a teen during the long summer holidays. No sooner was the bake out of the oven and cooled, and they were snaffled up and literally only crumbs remained!
As already mentioned, it's a really easy bake - especially if you choose to use shop bought pastry. But if you enjoy making your own pastry, like me, then a Date Slice bake really doesn't take that much longer to make. Once rolled out, the pastry base is filled with a date mixture which is topped with another sheet of pastry, sprinkled with sugar and then popped into the oven. Before you know it, you can be enjoying a delicious portion of Date Slice with your favourite pot of tea.
Now, it's probably fair to say that the brown date filling isn't very sexy, but what it lacks in 'wow' appeal it certainly makes up for in flavour and nutrition. Dates are rich in dietary fibre, are an excellent source of iron, potassium, calcium, manganese and copper and are also a good source of vitamin A. In addition, as the dates are naturally high in sugar the mixture requires no additional refined sugars to be added to the mixture. The bake is therefore really quite healthy, especially if a shortcrust pastry is used. That said, I do prefer to make a sweet pastry (pate sucree) for our Date Slice, but feel free to use a short crust if you prefer.
So, let's get to it and bake!
Date Slice Yum
Yield: 16 slices
Time: about 25 minutes hands on; about 20-25 minutes bake time; plus cooling time.
You will need:1 x large Baking Sheet, ours measured 31cm square (see notes a & b below)
1 medium Heavy Based Pan
Sharp Paring Knife, or similar
For the Sweet Pasty (Pate Sucree)200g Plain Flour
100g Unsalted Butter, chilled & diced
50g Icing Sugar
Pinch of Salt
1 large Egg, lightly beaten
Shop Bought Sweet Pastry or Short Crust Pastry
For the Date Filling375g block Whitworth's Dates
220 - 250ml Water
Zest of 1/2 Orange
To finish the pastry sliceMilk
Caster or Granulated Sugar, to sprinkle
How to make them:1. Cook the dates. Break up the compacted dates into a heavy based pan. Cut the dates in half with a pair of scissors, checking for and removing any remaining stones as you do so. Pour about half of the water into the pan. Add the orange zest. Set the pan over a medium heat to slowly cook the dates allowing them to absorb the water. Use a wooden spoon to stir the mixture frequently. Once the dates have absorbed most of the water add some more and stir again. Allow the dates to continue absorbing the water and softening. Continue cooking and adding a little more water until the mixture is soft and a slightly chunky 'puree'. It will take about 15 minutes.
2. Cool the dates. Once the dates are cooked and softened, pour the mixture into a bowl and set aside to cool.
3. Make the pastry. Place the flour, icing sugar, pinch of salt and cubed chilled butter into a good sized bowl. Rub the butter into the flour between your thumb and finger tips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Make a well in the centre of the breadcrumbs and add the beaten egg. Using a rounded pallet knife, or the back of a table knife, cut through the mixture to make a dough. You may need to add a little cold water (perhaps 1 or 2 teaspoons) to fully bring the mixture together. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and lightly knead the dough for 10 seconds. Cut the mixture in half, one piece being slightly larger than the other. Shape each piece into a ball. Flatten them into a disc. Wrap in cling film and place into the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes.
4. Pre-heat the oven to 190c / 170 fan / Gas 5.
5. Roll out the pastry. Remove the slightly larger portion of pastry from the fridge. Place onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll the pastry out into the shape of your baking tray, in our case a square, until it is about 2mm thick. Hold the baking tray above the pastry to ensure that the pastry is slightly larger than the tray. Wrap the pastry around the rolling pin, lift it up (using the pin) and unroll it over the baking tray. Use sharp knife to trim the edges of the pastry. Set the trimmings aside (without balling them up). If necessary using a little of the trimmings to patch any tears in the pastry.
6. Build up the walls of the pastry base. Cut the pastry trimmings into 1cm strips. Use the pastry bush to paint a line of milk or water around the edge of the pastry. Lay the pastry strips around the edge of the rolled pastry, butting them up against the edge and aiming to keep the neat trimmed edge of the pastry strips to the outer edge. The 4 sides of the pastry square will now have a double layer of pastry. Repeat, using the remaining offcuts, to make the pastry wall three layers thick. This will create a crust and a wall for the date mixture to sit within.
6. Roll out the pastry lid. Remove the second disc of pastry from the fridge. Place onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll the pastry out into the shape of your baking tray, in our case a square, until it is about 2mm thick.
7. Fill the patry case. Spoon the date mixture into the middle of the pastry. Use the back of a spoon to smooth it out to the edges of the pastry. Avoid getting the date filling over the 'wall' of the pastry.
8. Apply the pastry lid. Use a pastry brush to paint a little milk over the top of the pastry 'wall'. Wrap the pastry around the rolling pin, lift it up (using the pin) and unroll it over the filled case. Use your finger tips to gently seal the pastry lid to the pastry 'wall'. Use a sharp paring knife, or similar, to trim away the excess pastry. Use your finger tips again to ensure the pastry is sealed. Use the off cuts to create a pastry decoration if desired (ie/ leaves, flowers etc - I didn't bother).
9. Complete the pastry slice. Use a pastry brush to paint a little milk over the top of the pastry. If desired apply your pastry decoration and gently paint them with milk. Liberally scatter sugar over the top of the pastry. Use a pair of clean scissors to snip air holes into the top of the pastry. (I tend to make 9 cuts in our Date Slice bake, 3 x 3).
10. Bake. Place the baking tray into the oven and bake for 20 - 25 minutes until it is golden and the pastry cooked through. You may need to rotate the tray part way through the bake.
11. Cool & slice. Once baked remove the tray from the oven and set onto a cooling tray. After 5 minutes use a sharp knife to slice the date pastry into pieces, we got 16 pieces from it.
Notes:a) The baking tray we use for this is flat without sides. It means that the sides sides of pastry need to be built up with offcuts. However, it does mean that it is easier to portion up and remove from the baking tray (ie/ no tray sides getting in the way).
b) Use a sided baking tray (ie Swiss Roll tray) if you prefer. In this case omit the steps to build up the walls of the pastry. You may not need as much pastry if using a Swiss Roll tin.