Recently, I’ve been asked to develop a recipe for Nestlé, the recipe utilizing their cereal flakes.

The first thing that comes to my mind when cereals are mentioned is something simple and homey, wholesome, nutritious and worthy to be packed into kids’ lunchboxes. To meet all these requirements I’ve come up with the following recipe.

Makes one 8-inch (20 cm) square cake, about 12 servings

For the streusel:

  • ½ cup (60 g) all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup (55 g) packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp (55 g) cold unsalted butter cut into ½-inch (1 cm) cubes

For the cake:

  • 1 ½ cups (250 g) coarsely chopped dates (my first choice is always Medjool, but a less expensive variety will work as well)
  • Zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup (110 g) all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup (55 g) whole wheat flour
  • ¼ cup (55 g) packed light brown sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) honey
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups (100 g) multigrain cereal flakes (like Nestlé Honey Oats and More cereals)
  • ½ cup (55 g) coarsely chopped toasted walnuts (optional)

Make the streusel:

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Add the cubes of cold butter and work them into the flour using a pastry blender or your fingers (my preference here) until the mixture is crumbly and holds together when compressed. Squeeze it into several pieces, cover and refrigerate until the cake is ready to be baked. The streusel can be made a couple of days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.

Make the cake:

Center an oven rack and preheat the oven to 350F (180 C). Lightly spray an 8-inch (20 cm) square cake pan with oil and line the pan with parchment paper. Set aside.

Place the coarsely chopped dates into a medium non-reactive saucepan. Zest the orange and add the zest to the saucepan. Juice the orange into a liquid measuring cup. Add enough water to come up to 1½ (360 ml) cups. Pour over the dates. Add the lemon juice, honey, salt, and cinnamon stick. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture comes to a simmer. Continue cooking, still stirring once in a while, until the dates are very soft and the mixture is thick (jam-like consistency), about 15 minutes. You should get about 1 1/3 cups (315 ml) of date mixture. Discard the cinnamon stick, transfer to a bowl and cool to room temperature before proceeding further. You can place the bowl into a cold water bath to cool the mixture faster.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, light brown sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Add the buttermilk, oil, honey, eggs, and vanilla extract to the date mixture in the bowl. Whisk until well combined. Pour over the dry ingredients in the large bowl. Using a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, mix just until combined and no flour visible. Stir in the cereal flakes and chopped nuts (if using). Transfer the mixture into the prepared cake pan. Scatter the streusel topping evenly over the top, breaking it into hazelnut-size pieces. Place the cake pan onto a baking sheet and slide into the oven.

Bake the cake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the streusel is golden brown and a tooth pick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Transfer to the cooling rack to cool completely. Although, I must say the cake is also delicious warm with a glass of cold milk.
If wrapped airtight, the cake will stay moist and quite delicious for a couple of days. Store the cake at room temperature.