I’ve been getting lots of emails asking me to post the recipe for my granola, aka the world’s greatest granola. It’s called the world’s greatest granola because it really and truly is the world’s greatest. Invariably when someone comes to my house for breakfast and sees my granola they say. “I make my own granola too.” And, to be honest, it makes me a little sad because I know that once they taste my granola, the granola, they aren’t going to feel nearly as good about their own. I can actually see it on their faces when they take a bite.
I know how they feel because I too used to make extremely adequate granola too. It had all the key ingredients but the results were just okay. Ho hum. It was marginally better than the stuff you can buy in the supermarket.
So I spent a little time considering granola and what it should be. And more importantly what it shouldn’t be. It shouldn’t be cloyingly sweet, greasy, or taste of artificial vanilla. It shouldn’t be all oats and very little nuts. It shouldn’t be health-foodish.
My new granola is none of those things. I don’t use an exact recipe when I make it. Sometimes it has almonds in it, sometimes it’s pecans. I usually use unsweetened coconut but sweetened will do if it’s all I have in the house. The ingredients aren’t what makes this granola special; it’s the method of putting them together. And, as the title of this posts suggests, it isn’t fast and easy to make.
But it is completely worth all the time and bother. Believe me. Or don’t believe me and try making it just to prove me wrong. The important thing is that you make it because I think you’ll find it so superior to your old granola that you’ll think it’s worth the extra effort too.
One more thing: I make this granola in HUGE batches. It takes a long time to make it and I figure it’s just as easy to make five pounds as it is five cups. Plus, my family eats it in HUGE batches. I’m scaling back a bit to make it more manageable for the home kitchen but feel free to scale up if you have a bowl big enough to mix it in.
12 cups Old Fashion Oats: It matters not one wit which brand, so go cheap if you can.
3 cups of assorted raw (unsalted) nuts: I use whatever is in my freezer. Almonds work well, as do hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, pecans, even pine nuts.
2 cups dried fruit: I use dried cranberries because they are awesome and because everyone likes them but you can use apricots, blueberries, apples, whatever.
3 cups coconut: Look for unsweetened coconut in the bulk food bins at your market or health food store.
2 cups sesame seeds: Yup. Two cups. You’ll find them in the bulk bins as well. Trust me, you need the sesame seeds.
Honey: You’ll probably use about half a cup but you might want to make it sweeter than I do.
Canola or Vegetable Oil
Most granola recipes will tell you to throw all the dry ingredients into a large bowl, then pour on the oil and honey and stir it up, then tip the whole thing out on to a couple of sheet pans and bake. Don’t do that. All of the dry ingredients take different amounts of time to brown. Coconut and nuts tend to brown very quickly while oats take longer. And, due to a high sugar content, dried fruit will be burnt before everything else is even warm. And another thing: what’s the thinking behind coating nuts and dried fruit with oil? Why is that necessary? The answer is it’s not.
Instead of throwing everything together, we’re going to brown each of the ingredients separately. (This is were the inconvenient part comes in.) That way the nuts will be toasted to perfection, the coconut will be perfectly brown and the cranberries won’t be cooked at all. All of the ingredients will be at their best and be bursting with flavor. (Incidentally, this is also the method for making the world’s greatest roasted vegetables.)
Start with the nuts. I’m using pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and pecans this time. (I roughly chopped the pecans. If I was using almonds or hazelnuts I would chop them as well.) Spread the nuts out on sheet pans and pop them in a 350 degree oven until they are lightly browned. Do me a favor and stay in the kitchen while you’re toasting the nuts. Nuts are notorious for going from raw to burnt in the blink of an eye. Save yourself the heartache and check on them every couple of minutes. When they are lightly toasted, remove from the oven and let cool for a couple minutes, then tip them in to your largest bowl.
Next toasted your sesame seeds:
And add them to the bowl.
Now you’re ready to toast the coconut. Here’s the thing about coconut: it’ll burn even faster than nuts. In fact the usual progression with coconut is raw, raw, raw, raw, black. Never turn your back on coconut, not even for a minute. Coconut is not to be trusted.
While you’re checking on your coconut, give it a stir. Stir the browner bits of coconut around the edges into the center. When you’re done the coconut should look like this:
Let it cool a bit and tip it into the bowl with the nuts. You can add your dried fruit to the bowl now too. If you’re using anything larger than a dried cranberry you’ll need to roughly chop it into smaller pieces.
Now we’re ready to move on to the oats that will make up the bulk of your granola. Pour the oats in to your second largest bowl. Into a large measuring cup pour half a cup of canola oil and half a cup of honey. Put the oil/honey mixture into the microwave and heat until the honey has loosened up a bit.
Add most of the oil and honey to the oats and start stirring. You want to lightly coat the oats with oil and the more you stir the more evenly it will be distributed. You can add more oil, but you really shouldn’t have to if you stir it enough.
Spread the oats on to two sheet pans and bake until the oats are lightly toasted. You might need to stir the oats a bit the same way you stirred the coconut. When the oats have stopped looking pale remove from the oven and let cool.
Add the cooled oats to your giant bowl and stir everything together. Now you need to sprinkle your granola with kosher salt. Trust me. You’ll need at least a half teaspoon but you can add it a bit at a time if it’s less scary. The salt really pulls all the flavors together, so don’t skip it.
Give everything another good stir and you’re done! Store your granola in an air tight container and it should last a couple of weeks.
I like to serve this granola with greek yogurt and a touch of honey.
Tomorrow I’ll show you how to make the greek yogurt.