… Some of the Best in the County!
Memeré is the french word for grandmother. The Memeré I’m referring to here was my children’s grandmother, my mother-in-law, and a dear friend to all. And she was a great baker! But she always underestimated her own abilities. Oh yes, and she had her own opinions, but don’t we all. If she believed something should be done a certain way, then that’s the only way it should be done. Her recipes were in that category. And for good reason!
One summer here in MN I was entering some items in our county fair. I convinced her, and it took a great deal of convincing, to enter her Date Bars in the county fair baking competition. She thought the whole idea was quite silly, but finally agreed to do it, “just to have some fun,” as she put it. Well, just as luck (and her baking abilities) would have it, she brought home the 2nd place ribbon in the “bars” category. And I need to note that Minnesota is big “bar” territory. Baked bars, that is. I’m not referring to saloon-type bars (though we have plenty of those too.) She couldn’t believe it. We could believe it, and we were we all so excited and proud! To my knowledge this was the only baking competition she’d ever entered, and she was 83 years old at the time. She’s no longer living, but her love, laughter, and positive and healthful approach to life will live on forever in our hearts, and in our kitchen. Her recipe was not gluten-free, but I think she’d approve of our gluten-free (and dairy-free) version. We hope you enjoy these date bars as much as we do. Here’s to you, Memeré!
Bake time: 20-25 minutes
Oven temp: 400º F
Ingredients for oat crumb top and bottom layers:
1 cup rolled oats – I use Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Rolled Oats
1/4 cup flax meal – I use King Arthur Flour Gluten-Free Whole Flax Meal
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour – I use Authentic Foods Bette's Gourmet Four Flour Blend
3/4 cup margarine or butter – I use Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread - red tub
Ingredients for date filling:
1 1/2 cups dates, pitted and chopped
2/3 cup water
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
Preheat oven to 400ºF. Lightly oil an 7 x 11 inch glass baking dish with cooking spray or margarine. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine oats, flax meal, brown sugar, and flour. Give a quick whisking to blend. Add the margarine. Mix ingredients together with a pastry cutter, fork, or your fingers, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Pour approximately two-thirds of the crumb mixture into the prepared baking dish. Pat down gently to create a flat surface. Bake for 6-7 minutes. There won’t be any color to the mixture at the end of this bake cycle. This just helps form a more solid base for the filling and topping. Remove from oven until the filling is ready to be added.
While the bottom layer is baking, in a small sauce pan combine the dates, water, and lemon juice. Simmer gently over low heat for about five minutes (be careful not to burn the bottom), allowing the dates to breakdown a bit and the water and lemon juice to be absorbed into the dates. You’ll end up with an almost creamy type of texture. Remove from heat.
Carefully spread the date mixture over the baked oat mixture, making an even layer. Sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture over the top of the filling, and pat down gently until the top is smooth. Bake at 400ºF for about 20 minutes, or until the top surface is golden brown. Remove from oven and cool in pan on a cooling rack until room temperature. Cut into squares. Best if stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, and can be frozen for up to three months.
Safe food is a journey … Thrive!