I will never forget the first time I tasted date squares.  I was still in public school.    My best friend’s Mom was an excellent cook and baker.   One day after-school she served us a treat that  had me over the moon.  A sweet square that looked a little crumbly around the edges .  One bite and I was swooning over a rich, buttery, caramel enhanced oat crumb with an intensely exotic filling of dark, sweet dates.  She called these magical morsels matrimonial squares.   Even the name was wonderful.  Matrimonial squares.  Were these a special creation for weddings?  Or did they bring about marriage?

Date squares (matrimonial squares) were my first introduction to baking squares.  None of my cookbooks had a section for “squares”.    My cookbooks were published in the thirties and early forties and were all that was available.    I had started baking around l945.  I asked for the recipe and these many years later I  am still baking Mrs. Rybka’s Matrimonial Squares.


: squares
Cuisine: Canadian
: 36
An old fashioned but wonderfully decadent squares. It's deliciously healthy with a intense date filling and buttery oatmeal base and topping. An easy, fool proof treat.
  • 2½ generous cups pitted dates
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 tbsp. lemon juice
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1½ cups large-flakes rolled oats (not quick cooking)
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter cut into small chunks - room temperature.
  1. Preheat oven to350F. Grease an 8 inch square baking pan with butter and line with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the dates (there is no need to chop them up, water, brown sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the baking soda. Continue to cook stirring occasionally until the dates are soft and lose their shape (about 5 min.).
  3. Remove from heat and allow the filling to cool completely.
  4. To make the crumble topping whisk together the oats, flour, salt and baking powder until combined.
  5. Add the butter and mix in with your hands until it forms a crumble.
  6. Divide the crumble in half and firmly press into the bottom of the baking pan using the flat base of a measuring cup.
  7. Gently spread the cooled date mixture over this base then sprinkle with the remaining crumble topping, pressing lightly.
  8. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until the topping is a light golden colour. For even baking rotate the pan from front to back halfway through.
  9. Allow to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack before removing from the pan and cutting into squares.
  10. The squares can be stored in an airtight container for about two 2 weeks.
  11. CHEF'S NOTE: For a delicious and different alternative you an use equal amount of prunes in place of the dates.


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