I began making granola mostly because it is quite expensive to buy and there were periods of my life where yogurt and granola was a daily meal. I do also believe that if I can make something at home, I should at least try it. I like being able to control what goes in my food, I think it’s interesting to know the methods behind making things, and it’s usually fun. After that first time or two, if I decide that it’s not fun anymore, or that my version isn’t as good, well, the store bought options are always there. I draw the line at ketchup, for example, and, although I know it’s worth it, I have not yet made it to the point where making bread does not feel like a huge chore. But anyway, granola. Granola is perfect to make at home because it can be so much cheaper, is super easy, and is one of those things where the little ingredient tweaks are paramount. My dream granola (what, you do not have a dream granola?) is the perfect combination of:
- not too many ingredients, all easy to find
- quick, easy clean up
- healthy enough to eat for breakfast
- tastes how I wany my granola to taste (maple-y, probably includes coconut)
In particular, I was looking to replicate a granola with hazelnuts and dried cranberries that I used to get from FreshDirect (how do I love thee FreshDirect, let me count the ways). The fact that it is now Thanksgiving month and I have cranberries on the brain is neither here nor there. I wasn’t able to find an exact recipe that fit my parameters: this recipe from Martha Stewart had the right idea with the maple syrup and olive oil, but I think the brown sugar is too unhealthy for my breakfast parameters, although it will make a crispier granola. This recipe for Cherry Nut Granola from Sprouted Kitchen intrigued me, but in the end was a bit too involved, and didn’t have that maple hit. But by sort of combining the things that I liked about each, taking out what I didn’t and adding a bunch of things that I think should find a home in my granola I think I’ve hit on the ultimate. I’ve been making this recipe a lot here in Paris, because they only have muesli (with raw oats, not bad but doesn’t hit the granola parts of my brain), and I’ve found croustillant (crunchy) granola which is like, break your teeth crunchy and has lots of ingredients that I can’t yet understand. Instead, in five minutes (plus 45 of baking) I can have delicious granola to eat with all the different kinds of yogurt, or almond milk.
I encourage you to change it up and add and subtract whatever floats your granola boat. The only parameters are, for this amount of dry ingredients, to use at least 1/2 cup of total liquids (your stickies and wets: brown sugar, maple syrup, agave, honey, olive oil, other oils, or apple sauce which does both sweetening and moistening duty) and up to 1 ½ if you’d like it sweeter, knowing that more oils will make it more “separate”, whereas more sugars will usually make it crunchier/crisper. Also leave out whatever might burn (coconut, fruit, already roasted nuts) until the last 15 minutes or the end.
- 3 cups oats*
- 3 tablespoons raw sesame seeds
- ½ cup raw sunflower seeds
- 1 cup hazelnuts
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup maple syrup
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup dried unsweetened coconut flakes
- ½ cup dried unsweetened cranberries
Preheat oven to 325 Fahrenheit (which is 163 Celsius in case you, like me, need to know). In a large bowl, mix oats, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and hazelnuts. Add cinnamon and salt and mix well. Add maple syrup, olive oil and vanilla. Mix again. Spread evenly onto a baking pan with sides and bake on the center oven rack for 15 minutes. Gently stir granola and bake for 15 more minutes. Add coconut flakes and bake 15 more minutes. Remove from oven and add cranberries. Cool completely before storing. Store in air-tight container or plastic bag for about two weeks, or in the freezer for a few months.
*Some granola bakers prefer old-fashioned oats, while others prefer quick cooking for a looser, possibly clumpier texture. To be perfectly honest, I have no idea what kind of oats I use here in France. With my knowledge of the French language I am lucky I end up with oats. I often feel like the man in the children’s book The Little Old Man Who Could Not Read. In it, a man who can’t read is left to shop for himself when his wife is away. He goes to the supermarket and ends up buying soap flakes instead of oatmeal, saran wrap instead of spaghetti, etc. When I was a child it never failed to make me cry.