Friday, November 13, 2009

Breaking a habit

I have an expensive habit. Granola. Store bought granola is expensive, but I eat it nearly every morning for breakfast and although it seems like it should be so easy to make a good granola at home, that has not been my experience. When I have tried, it always comes out strangely tough, or bland or bleh. So, I give the store far more money than those oats are worth. Until yesterday. I found a recipe and although I think I need to tweak it a bit (not necessarily because of the recipe - I didn't quite follow it, after all) I think it may finally break my expensive habit.

Let's start with the recipe. I found it here and it apparently an adaptation of a Nigella Lawson recipe, although I haven't seen the original. I'll paste it in, and then I'll explain what I did and what I will change.

Makes about 2 pounds (1kg)
From David Lebovitz
Adapted from Feast, by Nigella Lawson

5 cups (450g) multi-grain flakes or old-fashioned rolled oats
3 cups (375g) almonds, coarsely chopped
1 cup (125g) sunflower seeds
3/4 cup (100g) untoasted sesame seeds
1/2 cup (120g) packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon dried ground ginger
1 teaspoon sea salt

3/4 cup (180g) unsweetened applesauce (or another unsweetened fruit puree)
1/3 cup (100g) rice syrup
1/4 cup (80g) honey
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 300F (150C).

1. In a very large bowl, mix together the flaked grains or oats, almonds, sunflower and sesame seeds, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and salt.

2. In a small saucepan, warm the fruit puree with the rice syrup, honey, and oil.

3. Mix the fruit mixture into the dry ingredients until thoroughly dispersed, then divide and spread the mixture evenly on two baking sheets. (If you have ones with sides, often called jelly-roll pans, use them.)

4. Bake the granola for about 45 minutes, stirring every ten minutes, until the granola is deep golden brown.

5. Remove from oven, then cool completely.

Store the granola in a large, airtight container. It will keep for up to one month.

Ok, so there is it. If you read the original blog entry linked above, you'll see he states that using the fruit puree rather than oil, as most granola recipes do, gives this one the crunchiness of commercial granolas (and is the thing that other recipes have always lacked). But, of course, when I went to make it, I didn't have enough applesauce in the house, so I made up the volume with oil. It still turned out crunchy, but next time I'll use all fruit (or veggie puree. I wish I'd remembered that I had sweet potato puree in the freezer. I think that would work great.). I also increased the ginger a bit, since I love it.

I also didn't have enough sunflower and sesame seeds, so I made up that volume with pumpkin seeds. And I used walnuts and pecans rather than almonds, because, again, that's what I had.

The mixture ends up wetter than other recipes I've tried which I think is what makes a lot of difference. It's also a lot less sweet than commercial granolas, which is also nice.

So, how was it? Delicious. It's kind of annoying to have to stir it every 10 minutes, but it really is necessary to get it to cook evenly. And it gets dark really quickly at the end. I should have pulled it out a bit sooner than I did. But, I do think I will no longer be buying granola. This is really good. Kate even liked it and asked for seconds. Homemade granola with homemade yogurt. Just call us crunchy. Or granola.

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