We just returned from a family vacation up in Northern Ontario - which sounds so very back-country to me.. Lake country.
8 hours from where I live my day to day the landscape changes...
..the roads wind and snake around hills, rocks and lakes, and there are moose (I'm told but haven't seen). And bears at the dump (which I have seen but wish I hadn't). Where life moves at a different pace and cell phones do not work and the most pressing thing on the agenda is throwing a ball for the dog a few times before sitting down with a book. Where I have to have a number of rather stern discussions with my inner scaredycat. Because I worry. It's irrational. But what about bears, lake monsters and four wheeler-boating-canoe-hiking-fishinghook accidents. I worry...All.the.time. This terrifies me.
Look away Trish, just look away.
Now - stare out into the lake like you are contemplating the meaning of life ....
or search for that loon you were chasing.
Where appearance doesn't matter. Where hair doesn't get done and we can sit in our PJs as long as we like. And hair does in fact get crazy.
Anyways, before we left, I made up a batch of this granola to bring with us for the week (and eat in the car on the drive up). This might be the best granola recipe ever. As in it is famous it is so good. First time I came across this recipe was at David Lebovitz (I mean, if Mr Lebovitz say it is the best, it really is the best), who admits to snagging it from Nigella, who writes about it in Feast (One of those books that sits mostly next to my bed for bedtime reading, because every recipe comes with a story and because that is what I do); and Nigella admits it was inspired by someone else again. And Nigella claims is "only the best granola you will ever taste in your life." It is that good. And even though this recipe is technically all over the internet already. And I wasn't going to post it... but I've been asked so many times. And really who can resist another granola recipe. So here it is. Again. So although granola is relatively painless to make, its not always goof-proof. Sometimes it is so crunchy it hurts to eat. Other times, there is so much sugar added that even though it tastes like breakfast you know you are basically eating dessert and just shouldn't. And who wants to start their day with sugar guilt? So this one, in my opinion anyway, is just perfect. Everytime. Not too sweet. Perfectly crunchy. And as a bonus it makes an insanely huge batch. You will need two large baking sheets (the kind with sides on them) for the most efficient baking.
I tend to modify the recipe based on what I have on hand and whether or not the kids will want to take it to school. In the picture above I've subbed in sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds for all the nuts to make it nut-safe for school lunches. I usually leave out dried fruit of any kind. We don't like raisins. Sometimes a few cranberries or dried cherries will make an appearance, but generally this is version I make. Our favourite. Lots of nuts. Lots of almonds and lots and lots of pecans. I also like to use a variety of whole grain flakes. You can buy a multi-grain breakfast blend at the Bulk Barn, or mix in some splet and rye flakes for the oats, but regular old oats do just fine.
I should tell you that Nigella is far braver than I am (again, I tend to worry too much) and her technique involves dumping everything into a big bowl and just tossing it until everything (and everyone) is equally sticky. I know I should trust Nigella. I'm sure it will be fine. But I feel more comfortable with David Lebovitz's method and make a syrup from the brown sugar, applesauce, syrups and oil first, then pour and toss. You don't need to cook the syrup over the heat very much, just enough to melt the brown sugar. Of course, for you brave souls, just do as Nigella does and toss it all in together and see what happens.
A few notes or cautions...
- Sometimes granola just needs to be cooked twice. So you take it out of the oven, let it cool and it just doesn't feel like it is toasty enough or it's still a bit damp or chewy. Go ahead throw it back in the oven. Just check it every 15 minutes or so. I've done this the next day and your granola will be better for it.
- It goes without saying all ovens are different - see point above, what is reasonable cooking time for my oven may not be nearly enough for you or just today for your granola. Convection ovens are different and making granola is one area where I really see a difference when I use the convection setting. Reduce your temperature if you use the convection setting in you oven. I have burned more than my share of granola thinking the convection setting will help things along. It does. Very quickly. I prefer to not use convection when I make granola and just go with regular conventional bake.
- 5 cups large flaked oats
- 1 cup almonds whole or rough chopped
- 3 cups pecans whole or rough chopped
- 1 cup sunflower seeds
- 3/4 cup untoasted sesame seeds
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon each dried ground ginger and fine sea salt
- 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce mashed bananas also works but is a bit sweeter
- 1/3 cup brown rice syrup or agave nectar, maple syrup or regular corn syrup
- 1/4 cup honey maple syrup for a vegan version
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Preheat oven to 300.
- In a large bowl combine oats, nuts, seeds, spices and salt. Toss.
- In a small sauce pan heat together sugar, applesauce, syrup, honey and oil. Just heat until combined and sugar has melted. Pour over oat mixture and toss and toss until everything is coated and sticky.
- Spread over two large cookie sheets, spread evenly in thin even layers. Place in the oven and bake for 40 or so minutes. Turn and mix up the granola every 10 or 15 minutes. The granola is done when the mixture is evenly toasted and golden brown. I could take longer than 40 minutes, Sometimes up to an hour. It will starting to dry out, but will not reach fully crunchiness until it has cooled completely.
- Store in an airtight container for several weeks.