Granola is something I make a lot in the winter, and rarely in the spring and summer. It just seems perfect for those winter mornings when you need a little something extra to make it through until lunchtime, but in the summer, it seems too heavy.
Granola is very flexible. You can make it to fit whatever ingredients you have on hand and whatever budget you are running on. A few times last winter things were so tight, our granola had no nuts or seeds in it at all.
Here’s the basic recipe:
5 cups of rolled oats (not quick-though that might work, I’ve never done it though)
1/3 cup of honey
1/3 cup of maple syrup (or just one or the other, but both of them is the best)
1/2 cup of oil
1-2 tablespoons of cinnamon
That’s your basic granola. To that I often add a handful of millet, some sesame seeds, some flax seeds. I mix up those ingredients, and spread them out in the greased pan like so:
I never make a single batch to be honest. And yeah, my oven could use a good scrubbing.
I always bake the granola at 350, stirring every 5 minutes or less (after the first 10) for about 20-25 minutes. You don’t want it to be too dark, because then it tastes overdone (I hate to say burnt). So err on the side of caution, you can always put it back in the oven if it’s too soft once it cools, but you can’t take the burnt (there I said it) taste out of it.
Anyway, I always bake off the granola before I add the nuts and sunflower seeds. Nuts are more nutritious raw, and the flavor is not enhanced that much by baking them, but by all means, throw them in the oven with the rest of it if you have a mind to.
As far as adding nuts, I add at most a cup of nuts (or their cheaper cousin-sunflower seeds) to the whole recipe. I usually add less, because nuts are expensive (though if I make it at my mom’s house, I might add a little more). Any nut is great in granola. Walnuts and almonds are my staples, but hazelnuts are great. And one time I added pine nuts (at my mom’s house), and it was the best granola I ever made.
Dried fruit should never be added before you bake. It will burn. Caleb prefers raisins. I prefer chopped dates. So I split the recipe into 2 jars and put raisins in half and dates in half. Sometimes I chop up an apple and bake that with the granola to dry out the apple, and then we have apple granola.
Lately I have been leaving out the oil entirely for a lower-fat recipe. It’s still crunchy and tasty, though it doesn’t clump up as much for the nice granola clusters. But it’s very good, and better for you too.
We like to eat our granola with soy milk and sliced strawberries, but we also like it dry just for a snack.