Matrimonial Cake | Janie Hermann


  • 3 cups chopped Medjool dates (dried and pitted)
  • 2 cups large flake old-3 cups chopped Medjool dates (dried and pitted)
  • 2 cups large flake old-fashioned oats (do not use quick cook or steel cut oats)
  • 1.25 cups packed golden yellow brown sugar
  • 1 cup of softened butter
  • 1.75 cups of all-purpose white flour
  • 0.5 cup granulated sugar
  • 0.5 tsp baking soda
  • 0.5 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (if desired, this is optional)

To prepare

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Soften the chopped dates in a heavy saucepan by mixing the dates with 1.5 cups water, and the granulated sugar. Bring the mixture to a full boil then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 7-10 minutes until the dates have softened and water has evaporated. Let the date mixture cool for 5 minutes.

While dates are simmering prepare the crumb mix. In a large bowl combine oats, flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and brown sugar and mix together fully.

Use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the oat mixture and blend until it has coarse crumble form.

Press half of the crumb mixture into the bottom of greased 9 by 13 pan.

Spread the slightly cooled date mixture evenly over the crumb layer.

Top with the remaining crumb mixture, pressing down slightly.

Bake 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes or until the top is nicely browned.

Cut into squares while still warm and enjoy!

What makes this recipe special to you?

My grandmother made the best matrimonial cake, which is what it is called in Saskatchewan, where she lived her entire life. In other regions of Canada this recipe is called called date squares or date crumble, but not matter it is called it is a distinct and unique Canadian dessert that is found in many bakeries and is popular for holiday baking, pot lucks or bake sales. It is a dessert that forever reminds me of trips out west to visit my grandparents each summer.

In Saskatchewan it is served at weddings and my grandmother made trays of homemade matrimonial cake for every wedding in the family, including my own. My grandmother told me that is was named matrimonial cake because the two separate layers of crumble were being held together by the dates which symbolized two people solidifying their relationship by being married. The cake would be served at receptions at the end of the dance just before everyone left for the night to give them something to nibble on as they journeyed home. She also told me that in her younger years the single women would wrap it up and place it under their pillow to bring them good luck in finding a husband.

The tablecloth was hand stitched by my Nanny as a gift to my mom for her wedding. It has all the provincial flowers of Canada on it, but I chose the placement by Saskatchewan as that is where my family originated and also that is where this dish is most popular in Canada. The china tea cup is from my Grandma, my dad’s mom.

What’s Your Connection to Princeton

I have worked at the Princeton Public Library since I immigrated from Canada more than 20 years ago.

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