For someone who eats oatmeal for breakfast five days out of seven, I’m a little granola obsessed. I don’t get the opportunity to eat it that often (just weekends or perhaps for a little dessert in the evenings), and I never buy it premade so there usually isn’t any around the house, but in the year or so that I’ve been posting on Superspark, I’ve made no fewer than four different granola recipes now in search of the perfect blend of sweet oatey clusters, nuts, and dried fruit.
The first attempt, a bare bones recipe from the New York Times which I called simply “crunchy granola” (little knowing that I’d soon need to distinguish it from 3 other competitors), was good, but there wasn’t a cluster to be found. Wising up to the realization that all granola recipes are not created alike, I searched Epicurious for one that loudly advertised clusters in the results, ending up with what I called “granola redux”, a pleasantly vanilla-infused variation that required forming the granola into a bar and freezing it to coax the oats into sticking together. A little involved and though the taste was great, the freezing trick didn’t produce the results I was hoping for. Take three, so-called Caolionn’s kick-ass granola after the friend who passed along the recipe, was a big step up from the others and was definitely worth making again.
But you know what? When Molly of Orangette posted her go-to daily granola recipe recently, it seemed worth a try, if only for the sake of further research. The woman’s got good taste and I had a sense she wouldn’t steer me wrong. This particular granola, adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Feast, has an ingredient list (including brown rice syrup, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and apple sauce) that puts it a bit more on the “earth mother” side of the granola spectrum. But those flavors give this granola a deeper, richer flavor than those that rely on honey or sugar for most of their sweetening. Of course the all important question is whether it produces clusters. Indeed it does, because the wet ingredients end up forming a sticky paste to bind the nuts and oats together. Once again, it’s not as cluster-dense as the granola you’d buy at the supermarket (making me wonder what ungodly amounts of corn syrup must be added to them), but it’s definitely not just a bunch of flaky oats. All in all, definitely one to keep in the granola repetoire alongside Caolionn’s kick-ass granola. With some strawberries, plain yogurt, and a dollop of homemade jam, this is the kind of weekend breakfast that I dream about all week.
Daily granola (makes about 10 cups depending on how much nuts and fruit you add)
5 cups rolled oats
2 to 3 cups raw almonds or pecan halves, or mixture of other nuts, chopped
1 cup hulled raw sunflower seeds
¾ cup sesame seeds (a surprisingly good addition, don’t skip them!)
¾ cup light brown sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. salt
¾ cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/3 cup brown rice syrup
¼ cup honey
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil, such as canola or safflower
optional: dried fruit, chopped, to taste (I used a combination of dried apricots, raisins, and dried mixed berries from Trader Joe’s)
1. Set racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Preheat the oven to 300°F.
2. In a large bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients. Stir to mix well. In a small bowl, combine all of the wet ingredients. Stir to mix well. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ones, and stir well.
3. Spread the mixture evenly on two rimmed baking sheets. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until evenly golden brown. Rotate the pans and give the granola a good stir every 10 minutes or so to help it cook evenly. When it’s ready, remove the pans from the oven, stir well and set aside to cool. The finished granola may still feel slightly soft when it comes out of the oven, but it will crisp as it cools. Add chopped fruit, if so desired.
4. Scoop cooled granola into to a large zipper-lock plastic bag or other airtight container. Store in the refrigerator indefinitely.