I am the first to admit I find Rachel quite uncomfortable to watch on TV, she doesn't seem to have that natural show business flair, but I adore her books, they are all so homely and family oriented and I love the fact that in some of her recipes she will tell you to go and have a cup of tea while you're waiting on something coming out of the oven.
Flicking through the book so many wonderful bakes jumped out at me, in particular the blueberry cheesecake but I settled on these date bars mainly because I adore dates and stocked up on loads of them in the post Christmas sales.
These bars are a cross between a fruit slice and fruit crumble, basically a crumble mix, half of it pressed into the base of a tin, covered in a layer of fruit, and sprinkled with the remaining crumble. They are really delicious, sweet, sticky, light and fruity. My OH wasn't too interested in their appearance but fell in love them after one bite. They would also be fabulous with a apple and blackberry filling which I shall be cooking in the Autumn.
200g dates (stoned and chopped) I used 150g dates and 50g of prunes that were needing used up.
175g plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
175g soft light brown sugar
100g porridge oats
good pinch of salt
175g butter, diced
20 x 20cm square tin
Preheat the oven to 180c/ Gas mark 4. Butter the sides of the cake tin and line the base with greaseproof paper.
Place the water and chopped dates in a medium-sized saucepan and bring up to a simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes, uncovered, on a low-medium heat until the date mixture is very soft and thick, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl. Add the sugar, oats and salt and mix well. Add the butter and, using your fingertips, rub it in until moist clumps form.
Press half of the oat mixture evenly over the base of the prepared tin. Spread the cooked date mixture over this, then sprinkle with the remaining oat mixture. Press gently with the palm of your hand to flatten it on top.
Bake in the oven for approximately 40 minutes or until golden brown at the edges and set in the centre.
Allow to cool completely in the tin, then cut into bars and serve.