Monday, August 1, 2011

Experiments in Granola



Reb's Granola
It is rare when I find something to be outrageously expensive (like a small box of granola for $9) that I decide to go ahead and make my own. I usually just go without. The other morning, however, I was determined to make my own granola because I had a recipe from one of my favorite books (The Craft of Baking), and a whole cabinet full of various nuts and dried fruits which I needed to empty.

Is it hard? No. Is it time consuming? Yes. This explains only a SMALL fraction of the markup, I assure you.

I doctored the recipe a bit, so we can say it is largely based on the original with a few modifications. Anything I modified or added is in italics.

Reb's Granola (based on Karen DeMasco's "Toasted Nut & Honey Granola")

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 2 1/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil*
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp cinammon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Spread coconut on a baking sheet and bake, stirring occasionally, 5-7 minutes until golden brown. Transfer to a bowl.

In a second bowl, combine oats, hazelnuts, and almonds. Spread mixture on baking sheet (use the same one as for the coconut) and bake for 12-15 minutes. Stir every five minutes.

While toasting oat mixture, in a large bowl, whisk together the oil, honey, brown sugar, vanilla extract, cinammon, and salt.*

Remove oat mixture from oven, and immediately add it to the oil mixture, folding it in with a spatula to combine well. Make sure all the dry ingredients are dampened. Spread this mixture on the baking sheet in an even layer and return it to the oven to bake for 20 mins. At five minute intervals, stir the granola to make sure the granola on the edges spends some time in the middle of the pan. You may need to bake it for longer if your granola is still wet.

Remove from oven and let it cool to room temperature on a rack.

Toss cooled granola with cranberries and toasted coconut, and transfer to an airtight container.

*With the first batch I made, I misread the instructions and only used 2 tablespoons of grapeseed oil (forgetting the 1/3 cup). This explains why my wet mixture wasn't viscous and instead was glumpy:

This turned out not to be an issue, however. The heat from the freshly toasted granola melted the mixture and it spread fairly evenly throughout the granola when I mixed it. My second batch (see "Variations on a Theme" below), I used the prescribed amount of oil and all the ingredients mixed smoothly. This time, however, it took longer for the granola to "dry" in the oven and I suspect I could use less oil (more than 2 tablespoons, but less than 1/3 cup AND 2 tablespoons).

Variations on a Theme:
Second batch made with pecans and macadamias, subbed maple syrup for honey, and no cinnamon.

It is completely worth the effort (roughly 40-45 minutes of baking and stirring). This may turn into a weekly endeavor.