A child - and adult - friendly slice perfect for lunchboxes, or, as we have done twice now, packed in the car for long road trips. In my recipe notebook I've given this slice the riveting name of 'Date, Sultana and Coconut Slice,' but somewhere along the way it got dubbed 'Yummy Slice' (food propaganda machine in full swing here) and I think it's a much more fitting name. It is, honestly, really yummy!
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup / 75 g wholemeal or whole spelt flour (or flour of your choice)
2 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t bi-carb soda
1/3 cup / 65 g mixed seeds
1 cup / 90 g almond meal
1/2 cup / 90 g sultanas or raisins
1 cup / 75 g shredded coconut
200 g Medjool dates, pitted
80 g unsalted butter
1/4 cup / 80 g raw honey
1/4 cup / 65 ml water
vanilla extract (optional)
1 egg, lightly beaten
Preheat oven to 170°C (340°F) and line a lamington tin (approximately 20 cm x 30 cm / 8" x 12") with non-stick baking paper.
In a small saucepan, bring dates, butter, honey, and water to a gentle simmer over moderate heat and allow it to bubble for a couple of minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.
Meanwhile, combine dry ingredients, sultanas or raisins, and coconut in a large mixing bowl.
Mash the date mixture with a fork or vegetable masher into a rough paste. Quickly stir in egg and vanilla, if using.
Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the date mixture. Stir thoroughly to combine. Dollop the mixture into the prepared tin, patting down the the surface (without compressing it), and bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Once cool, store in an airtight container as is or pre-sliced into bars for up to a week. If storing for longer or if the weather is warm, store slice in the fridge.
It is a gift being able to share cooking with my daughter, the child I dreamt about for so long, and for a time, thought I may never have. To have her standing on a box at the kitchen bench, little hands eager to grasp, to help, to learn, I just feel so grateful that I (yes, me!) get to have these special moments. They are a blessing and, I hope (I trust), that these shared times will help to lay the foundations of a loving life-long relationship between us, as well as between Ingrid and food. I hope to instil in her an appreciation of the value of home-cooking, of self-sustenance, and of finding solace in simple comforts. In time, I hope she can, too, enjoy the process of feeding those she loves with nourishing, wholesome food.
We had a blast making this together, and now I get her up to the kitchen bench as much as possible when I'm cooking. She really enjoys it ("want to stand on box," she'll say), and it helps me too. I can cook and entertain her at the same time. Anyone with a toddler knows that trying to do anything while they're about can be a pretty fraught business, as their energetic little brains and bodies need a lot of tending to at times. So far, we've made date scones, pastry, this slice and pizza together, and if we ever have herbs as part of our meal, her special job is to wash them. Of course, she's too little to do much that's actually 'helpful,' but even just standing there with a scrap of dough that she can roll and pat herself is enough for her, while I can get on with the task and talk to her at the same time. I do think that finding ways to share daily experiences is not only a great learning opportunity for your child, they provide great bonding opportunities as well. While they're so little and want to be around you so much, it makes sense to just embrace it - as much as is possible! It's never an ideal world, and challenges always arise, especially when you're under time pressure or extra tired, but I try to find ways to accommodate both our needs as much as possible, and most of the time it works.
Just some musings on cooking with toddlers, I'd love to know your experiences too if such a thing is part of your world and you feel like sharing! And if you make the slice, please let me know here on on Instagram, it means so much to know my recipes may have a little life of their own out in the world. Wishing you health and good eating, M x