I probably seemed a little crazy posting about oatmeal last week considering it was one of the hottest days we have had this year! For those who prefer to leave hot cereals for the cold months here is a delicious granola recipe. I personally prefer granola that is really crunchy and chunky. To acheive that I press the granola into a solid mass on a sheet pan before baking it, and then flip it halfway through. This makes it almost like a giant crumbly granola bar that you can break up after it has cooled.
I have decided what to put in this recipe based on my own family's tastes: one son doesn't really like nuts but does not seem to mind them here as long as they are not huge pieces...as a result I use sliced almonds and pecans, both of which break up easily but add lots of flavor and nutrition. I personally love coconut and sesame seeds so there are healthy doses of each included as well. You can really experiment and see what your favorite combinations are. Hazelnuts add a great crunch and would pair well with dried cranberries or cherries. Pistachios add a lovely touch of green and work well with dried apricots.
5 cups rolled oats
2 cups nuts of your choice ( I used 1 1/4 cup sliced almonds and 3/4 cup pecans, broken into pieces)
1 1/4 cups shredded coconut
1 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 teasooon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon of cloves
A dash of sea salt (omit if your sunflower seeds are salted)
1 cup maple syrup
4 tablesoons of olive oil
4 tablespoons of unsalted butter
Fresh or dried fruit
Heat oven to 350°. Mix all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Combine the maple syrup, olive oil, and butter in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until the butter has melted. Pour into granola mixture and stir until thoroghly combined and mixture is moist throughout. Transfer onto a sheet pan (or rimmed cookie sheet) and press into an even layer. The more packed down it is the more chunky the granola with be. (If you prefer less chunky granola omit this step.) Bake for 20 minutes, or until fragrant and begining to brown. If you have a second sheet pan that is the same size invert mixture onto it. If not, use a spatula to turn mixture over, and then press it into a solid mass again. Retrun to oven until nicely browned, about 15 minutes more. Allow granola to cool in the pan before breaking up.
Loosen granola from the pan with a spatula and break it up into chunks. Store in a glass jar or ziplock bag.
You can stir in dried fruit all at once, or just have it ready and stir it in when serving. Sometimes I keep it separate so each member of the family can add what they like, and vary it for each serving. Alternatively, during the summer months, you can skip the dried fruit and add fresh berries instead.
Recently I have been trying to slowly cut down on sugar. Although the original recipe I posted is delicious and makes very chunky granola I have been experimenting and am equally happy with a less sweet version that is still plenty sweet and tasty. I've adapted it as follows: increase the quantity of oats to 7 cups and add an additional 1/2 cup of nuts. Reduce maple syrup to 3/4 cup. Divide the granola between 2 sheet pans and press it into an even layer before baking. Cook 15 - 20 minutes and then rotate trays for even cooking. If the edges are getting too brown use a spatula to mix the edges into the center and pat into an even layer again before returning to the oven. Cook another 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Set aside to cool before removing from the pan.