"Stage Two" Granola

“Not to diss your other granola, but I think this is the best one you’ve ever made.”  – ‘Chefski.
Yeah…  I don’t think this recipe needs any more endorsement than that.
Whenever I want to look for something to make in the kitchen, I usually just hit up my favorite cooking and baking blogs for inspiration, but this time I decided to leaf through The Joy of Cooking — which I really could spend hours reading cover-to-cover — to see if there was any way to improve upon the last granola recipe I’d tried. Sure, I liked it, but it wasn’t quite as crunchy as I’d dreamed homemade granola could be. 
Blame Small World Coffee in Princeton for schooling me on the art of granola — I had maybe two of their vanilla yogurt-banana-granola parfaits in my time there, but man! They clearly made a lasting impression. Now that I find myself in “stage two” as a cook (Mark Bittman’s category, for cooks who don’t just follow recipes to the T, but rather mix n match a bit and know their preferences), I feel more comfortable looking at recipe and saying “yea…. I think I’ll add some pepper..” or, “you know what? this would be GREAT with cinnamon and vanilla.” I trust myself more, and blogging about culinary adventures has certainly helped.
I will add that Small World’s granola was more like a roughly chopped bar, while this recipe’s got clusters and looser oats/seeds. Nevertheless, I nailed that crunch. The sesame seeds are key, and next time I might try to give cashews, almonds and sunflower seeds a go (the latter two were in the original Joy recipe) and see if this lives up to my memory. And, as usual, I’ll consider using a bit less oil next time. At any rate, this is my new go-to granola. 
It’s the kinda thing that makes a gal feel like she accomplished something, you know what I mean?

Crunchy Granola
Adapted from The Joy of Cooking
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup coarsely chopped nuts (I used pecans instead of almonds)
1 cup shredded coconut 
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup flax seeds (this was instead of sunflower seeds) 
1/2 honey (or maple syrup
1/2 cup vegetable oil (next time I’d use 1/4 cup)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Scatter oats over a large baking sheet and toast for 15 minutes in an oven preheated to 350 degrees F. Be sure to stir and toss frequently.
2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine nuts, coconut, seeds, and cinnamon. Once your oats have toasted, add those to the bowl.
3. In a small saucepan, heat oil and honey/syrup for 5 minutes over low heat.
4. Once your sweetener is heated, stir it into your dry ingredients.
5. Spread your granola mix onto the baking sheet (if you’ve got too much to make a thin layer, use two baking sheets).
6. Use your judgement and bake for 30-45 minutes (i.e. don’t burn it, but get it nice and toasty), stirring regularly to evenly bake.
7. Once you’ve taken the pan out of the oven, throw in some chopped dried fruit (I had a mix on hand that contained apricots, apples and pears) and toss to combine thoroughly. 
8. Allow to cool completely — you know, go read a book, relax for a while, and come back to find your granola crunchy! Will keep for a good while (a month) in an airtight container in the fridge. 

This entry was published on July 11, 2011 at 10:58 pm. It’s filed under breakfast and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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