Its been raining non stop for the last 3 days. As much as I love the rain, I dislike the traffic and water logging that invariably ensues. Dodgy internet and phone connections make matters worse. Amidst all that craziness, the downpour continues quietly, making everything clean, shiny and lush green. My little garden has burst with a fresh lease of life. The weather’s perfect for endless cups of hot chai and a book…..and munchies. Lots of them!
A rainy morning, easy day at work, freshly stocked pantry, inspired me to bake and that too pastry…in this “going through the roof” humidity!! But what heart wants, the heart does! And boy, am I glad I went ahead with these wonderfully addictive Date & Nut Bars.
Cranberries are my new favourite dried fruit and I try to incorporate them in lot of recipes. So in they went with the dates. The sweet-tart taste of the cranberries balanced the sticky caramel-like sweetness of dates beautifully. Little honey, lemon juice and nuts added so much flavour and texture. And then a crumbly, buttery pastry to encase this gorgeous filling. Its a hearty filling, sweet, but not cloyingly so.
I wanted to make a 100% whole-wheat pastry but backed out last-minute as I just wasn’t sure… When in doubt, buckwheat flour always bails me out. This combination of whole wheat and buckwheat turned out to be pretty darned good. I got a rather soft and delicate shortcrust pastry. Rolling it out was a tad tricky, so I rolled the dough between two sheets of baking paper. It really made the process super easy and mess-free!
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For the dough:
whole-wheat flour – 115 gms
Buckwheat flour – 130 gms
Butter – 130 gms ( I used Amul), cold and cut into small cubes
Icing sugar – 25 gms
Ice cold water – 2 -4 Tbsp
Dates – 150 gms, pitted and chopped
Cranberries – 100 gms, chopped
Water – 3 Tbsp
Lemon juice – 3 Tbsp
Honey – 2 Tbsp, plus extra for brushing
Pistachios – 25 gms, chopped
Walnuts – 60 gms, chopped
Milk for glazing
For the pastry:
Place the flour, sugar, and butter in a large bowl. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour, until the mixture resembles pea- sized clumps. Add the ice-cold water, 1 Tbsp at a time, bring the mixture together until a soft dough is formed. Pat it in a round shape and wrap it with cling wrap. Place in the refrigerator for 30 mins.
For the filling:
Place the chopped dates, cranberries, lemon juice and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat. Add in the nuts and honey. Set aside and leave to cool.
Bringing it all together:
Pre heat the oven to 180 C. Line a baking sheet with silpat or baking paper.
Divide the dough in half and roll out each half in a rectangle, roughly 12″* 8″ in size. I rolled each half in between two sheets of baking paper to avoid any dough breakage as buckwheat does make the dough a bit crumbly. It worked very well, though I got two ovals instead! Oh well…
Spread the date mixture on one rectangle/oval, leave about 1 cm edge all around. Wet the edge lightly with water. Carefully place the other rectangle over. Press to seal the edges. Score the pastry into 14 slices. Brush with milk and bake for about 20 -25 minutes, until golden. Brush with 1 tsp of honey while it’s still hot.
Let it cool completely before cutting into slices. Enjoy!!