Homemade Granola

It turns out, granola is really easy to make.  After you try making it once, you’ll be hooked.  No more shelling out ridiculous dollars for a wee bag of granola.  You’ve got the best thing: homemade! 

I’ve wanted to make my own granola for awhile now.  I finally decided to give it a go, but only using ingredients I had on hand.  This would prove to be an interesting adventure, since I didn’t have all of the ingredients of any one recipe.  I ended up reading at least eight recipes and going through four cookbooks, and then going through my cupboards to see what I could use to make do.  Here is my crazy, I’m-not-making-a-trip-to-the-grocery-store granola.  And if you ask me… it’s freaking delicious.  Lesson of the day?  Granola is very forgiving.  Add or subtract what you like, and feel free to substitute honey with maple syrup, or oil with butter.  I didn’t have sliced almonds on hand, but I did have whole, raw almonds.  So, I stuck a cup of almonds into a large freezer bag and smashed them to bits with my wine bottle (how versatile that wonderful things is!).  


I’m a raisin-lover, so if I have raisins chilling in my kitchen next time, they’re definitely going into the mix.  Several recipes advised adding dried fruit to the granola after it’s done baking though, so take heed.  America’s Test Kitchen noted that dried fruit (like raisins, specifically) get burned and hard as a brick if you put bake them into the granola.  In my next batch, I’m going to eliminate the sugar altogether to see how it tastes.  I try to avoid refined white sugar because it’s processed, not a real food, and has zero nutritional value.  That being said, I don’t avoid it like the plague.  I certainly have a bag of refined white sugar in my kitchen, and I’m not going to feel guilty about it! 

I asked my sister, a professional cook with a degree in culinary arts and a background in molecular gastronomy, what the shredded coconut did to the baking goods.  She said it adds some texture and sweetness.  Also, if you toast it, it adds a caramelized note.  Yummy.  You had me at “caramel.”  Shredded coconut, she said, also adds moisture to baked goods and you can't taste the coconut flavor.  She doesn't like coconut, but adds it to her cookies and no one - including her - can taste it.  It adds some behind-the-scenes oomph, so try it!

I added cinnamon and nutmeg because I’d recently baked a pie, and I love the way those spices mingle together.  I also learned, through taste testing, why every single recipe recommends regular, good old-fashioned oats rather than, say, quick 1-minute oats.  The 1-minute oats still taste delicious, but they aren’t as chewy as regular oats since they’re already chopped up.  If you are also in a I’m-not-making-a-trip-to-the-grocery-store mood, feel free to make a batch with the 1-minute oats.  You’ll be fine. 

All in all, I’d guess that a bare bones granola only needs oats, vegetable oil, and honey (if you like it sweet).  Try mine, or make your own batch!  I’m sure you’ll be pleased with the results.  

I burned my first batch (oops, 375° is too high!), but the second batch came out perfectly!  I baked them at 300° for 30 minutes.  

3 cups of oats (regular is best, but 1-minute oats are okay in a pinch) 
1 cup of smashed almonds
1 cup of chopped pecans
3/4 cup dried, shredded coconut 
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 300°.

(1)  Mix the oats, almonds, pecans, coconut, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg together in one bowl.  In another bowl, mix together honey, oil, and salt.  Thoroughly combine the contents of both bowls and spread the granola evenly onto two baking sheets.
(2)  Bake for 15 minutes.  Take the baking sheets out of the oven and stir the granola.  Switch the top sheet to the bottom rack, and vice versa.  Bake for another 15 minutes. 
(3)  Once the granola is done, do a final stir while it’s still warm.  This ensures that the granola doesn’t adhere to the pan.  Allow it to cool.


…and after.

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