Mary Berry Date Slices are soft and chewy bars filled with a sweet and sticky date mixture, topped with a crunchy oat crumble. They are perfect for tea time, picnics, or any occasion.
In this article, I will show you how to make Mary Berry’s date slices step by step, with tips and tricks along the way.
What is Mary Berry Date Slices?
Mary Berry Date Slices are a type of dessert bar that consists of three layers: a buttery oat crust, a gooey date filling, and a crunchy oat topping. They are named after Mary Berry, a famous British baker and TV personality, who popularized this recipe in her cookbooks and shows. They are also known as date crumble bars, date oat bars, or date squares.
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Why You Love this Recipe
Mary Berry’s date slices, a delightful treat, are more than just a simple dessert; they’re a testament to the joy of baking. Their appeal lies not only in their taste but also in the ease and versatility of the recipe.
- Simplicity and Accessibility: This recipe is straightforward, requiring only basic baking skills and common kitchen ingredients.
- Texture and Flavor Harmony: The soft, chewy dates contrast beautifully with the crunchy oat crumble, creating a harmonious balance of textures. The caramel-like flavor of the dates adds a rich depth that is both comforting and indulgent.
- Customizable to Taste: These slices offer a canvas for culinary creativity. You can easily adapt them by adding spices, nuts, or other toppings to suit your palate.
- Perfect for All Occasions: Whether it’s casual tea time, a sophisticated dessert for dinner parties, or a portable snack for picnics, these slices fit seamlessly into any setting.
- Nostalgic and Timeless Appeal: Mary Berry’s classic recipe brings a touch of nostalgic charm, reminiscent of traditional British baking, making these slices a perennial favorite.
Ingredients Needed to Make Mary Berry Date Slices
To make the Mary Berry Date Slices, you will need the following ingredients:
- 225 g (8 oz) plain flour
- 175 g (6 oz) butter, softened
- 75 g (3 oz) caster sugar
- 175 g (6 oz) rolled oats
- 450 g (1 lb) dates, pitted and chopped
- 150 ml (5 fl oz) water
- 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- A pinch of salt
- A 20 x 30 cm (8 x 12 inch) baking tin, greased and lined with baking paper
- A medium saucepan
- A wooden spoon
- A small bowl
- A fork
- A knife
- A cooling rack
- A cutting board
Instructions to Make Mary Berry Date Slices
Step 1: Preheat the oven and prepare the baking tin
- Preheat your oven to 180°C (160°C fan, gas mark 4).
- Grease a 20 x 30 cm (8 x 12 inch) baking tin with some butter or cooking spray.
- Line the baking tin with some baking paper, leaving some overhang on the sides for easy removal.
Step 2: Make the date filling
- In a medium saucepan, combine the dates, water, and bicarbonate of soda.
- Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the dates are soft and mushy.
- Set the saucepan aside to cool slightly.
Step 3: Make the oat mixture
- In a small bowl, mix the flour and salt.
- Rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
- Stir in the sugar and oats.
Step 4: Assemble the date slices
- Press half of the oat mixture into the prepared baking tin, spreading it evenly and firmly with your fingers or the back of a spoon.
- Spoon the date mixture over the oat base, spreading it gently and evenly with a spoon or a spatula.
- Sprinkle the remaining oat mixture over the date layer, pressing it lightly with a fork.
Step 5: Bake and cool the date slices
- Bake the date slices for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden and crisp on top.
- Let the date slices cool completely in the tin on a cooling rack.
- Cut into 16 bars and enjoy!
What Do I Serve With Mary Berry Date Slices?
Mary Berry’s date slices are versatile and can be paired with a variety of accompaniments to enhance their flavor and presentation.
- Creamy Additions: Serve with a dollop of whipped cream, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, or a side of custard for a luxurious touch that complements the chewy texture of the slices.
- Fruit Pairings: Fresh fruits like berries, thinly sliced apples, or citrus segments can add a refreshing, tangy contrast to sweet dates.
- Beverage Companions: Pair these slices with a hot cup of tea, coffee, or milk. A strong English tea or a rich espresso can balance the sweetness, making for a delightful afternoon treat.
- Additional Toppings: Drizzle with caramel sauce or sprinkle with toasted nuts or coconut flakes for an extra layer of flavor and texture.
- Seasonal Serving Ideas: During the holidays, these slices can be served with mulled wine or spiced cider, embracing the festive spirit.
Pro Tips to Make Perfect Mary Berry Date Slices
Achieving the quintessential taste and texture of Mary Berry’s date slices involves a few expert tips that can elevate the baking process and the final result.
- Optimal Date Selection and Preparation: Choose high-quality, soft dates like Medjool for their natural sweetness and plump texture. If dates seem dry, soak them in warm water for about 15 minutes before using, then drain thoroughly to ensure they blend smoothly into the filling.
- Butter Incorporation: For a perfect crumbly texture, ensure the butter is cold and cut it into small cubes. Use a pastry cutter or your fingertips to blend it into the flour until the mixture reaches a breadcrumb-like consistency. This technique is crucial for a flaky, light crust.
- Uniform Crust Layering: When pressing the oat mixture into the tin, aim for a uniformly even layer. This consistency is key to achieving a stable base and even baking.
- Gentle Spreading of Date Filling: Carefully spread the date mixture over the crust to avoid disturbing the oat layer. Use a spatula for an even, smooth layer, ensuring the dates are distributed uniformly.
- Top Layer Technique: For the final oat layer, gently press the mixture to ensure it adheres to the date layer, creating a satisfyingly crunchy topping upon baking.
- Cooling Patience: Allow the baked slices to cool completely in the tin before slicing. This patience ensures they are set properly, making them easier to cut cleanly and handle.
Variations of Mary Berry Date Slices
Mary Berry’s date slices offer a versatile base for a variety of delicious twists, catering to different tastes and dietary needs.
- Spice Infusions: Add a pinch of cinnamon, nutmeg, or cardamom to the date mixture for a warm, aromatic flavor. These spices complement the natural sweetness of the dates beautifully.
- Nutty Additions: Incorporate chopped nuts like walnuts, pecans, or almonds into the date layer for added crunch and richness. Toasting the nuts beforehand can enhance their flavor.
- Chocolate Enhancement: Sprinkle dark or white chocolate chips over the oat layer before baking for a decadent twist. The chocolate melts slightly, adding a gooey contrast to the crumble.
- Coconut and Dried Fruit: Add shredded coconut or chopped dried cranberries to the oat mixture for a tropical twist and a pop of color.
- Healthier Flour Alternatives: Substitute a portion of the plain flour with whole wheat, oat, or almond flour for a more nutritious option, adding a nutty flavor and denser texture.
- Vegan Adaptation: Use coconut oil or a plant-based butter substitute for a vegan-friendly version. Be sure to choose a vegan butter that is suitable for baking to achieve the right texture.
- Citrus Zest: Grate some orange or lemon zest into the date mixture for a refreshing citrus note, adding brightness to the rich flavors.
How do I store Mary Berry Date Slices Leftovers?
- At room temperature: You can store the date slices in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Make sure they are completely cool before storing them, to prevent them from getting soggy or moldy.
- In the fridge: You can store the date slices in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. This will keep them fresh and moist, and also make them firmer and chewier.
- In the freezer: You can store the date slices in the freezer for up to 3 months, wrapped individually in cling film or foil. This will preserve their flavor and texture, and also make them easy to grab and go.
How do I reheat Mary Berry Date Slices Leftovers?
- In the microwave: You can reheat the date slices in the microwave for a few seconds until they are warm and soft. Be careful not to overheat them, as they may dry out or burn.
- In the oven: You can reheat the date slices in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, at 180°C (160°C fan, gas mark 4), until they are hot and crisp. You may want to cover them with foil, to prevent them from browning too much.
- In the toaster: You can reheat the date slices in the toaster for a few minutes until they are toasted and crunchy. You may want to cut them into smaller pieces, to fit them in the toaster slots.
Nutritional Values (per slice, based on 16 slices):
- Calories: Approximately 150-200 kcal
- Fat: 7-10 g
- Carbohydrates: 22-28 g
- Protein: 2-3 g
- Fiber: 1-2 g
- Sugar: 10-15 g (mostly from dates and caster sugar)
- Sodium: 50-100 mg (depending on the use of salt and the salt content of the butter)
I hope you enjoyed this article and learned how to make Mary Berry’s date slices. They are a classic and comforting dessert that will satisfy your sweet tooth. They are also easy to make, with only a few ingredients and steps. Try them today and let me know what you think in the comments below. Happy baking! 🍰