We eat homemade granola for breakfast almost every day at our house. My daughter also loves it for a snack and I love knowing exactly what the ingredients are in that snack, plus that it’s inexpensive as well.
Years ago, the only recipes I could find for granola called for baking it at a low temperature for 2 hours! Ugh – I did it only once, then didn’t make it again because I didn’t want my oven on for that long, plus it just took too much time. Then I found a recipe in one of the Tightwad Gazette books that only needed 20 minutes of baking, and after tweaking it to our tastes, it became one of our favorites.
To a small saucepan add brown sugar and oil and then add the honey called for so that it will simply slide out of the measuring cup. Place the pot over medium heat, stir, and let cook while preparing the oat mixture, stirring every now and then. When the sugar melts remove it from the heat before adding vanilla. It will boil a little – just stir it down.
This is a really flexible recipe. Don’t have nuts? Leave ’em out. Want to use up a half-eaten bag of dried apricots? Cut them up and throw them in. I sometimes use all rolled oats and sometimes use a 5-grain mix I get from Bob’s Red Mill. Just keep the total amount to 10 cups of dry ingredients, of which rolled oats and/or grains should account for about 8 cups.
One of the things I’ll add sometimes is flour. I noticed when looking at boxed granola that there was always flour listed, and I wanted to create more “chunks” like they have in the commercial cereals, so I tried it, and it seems to work. Any type of flour works, since it’s being used to add to the “clumpiness” factor.
Pour the sugar mixture in the oat mixture in a stream all around the pan. Take a large spoon and start mixing it together. Don’t get discouraged! It will seem like it can’t possibly cover all the dry ingredients, but just keep mixing, using the spoon to get all the edges and smooshing with the back of the spoon, and it will eventually be evenly coated. And it really only takes a few minutes, I swear!
Now, I’ve read that some like to use their hands to mix the granola, and I actually tried this which makes me want to mention two things:
- The sugar mixture is HOT.
- It’s really very sticky. Very sticky.
So I like to use my large stainless steel spoon. It makes me happy.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for only 20 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Yep, only 20 minutes – much better than 2 hours, don’t you think? Stir in any dried fruit you’d like when you take it out of the oven and then set aside to cool.
I’ve found that if you cool it for about 20 minutes without stirring there will be more of the chunks that my family likes. If you don’t want larger pieces, stir it more often while it’s cooling. In either case, you will have to stir from the outside after 20 minutes or it will stick to the pan. If it ever does stick badly (like if you’ve forgotten about it because you’re outside in the garden – not that I’ve ever done that), put it back in a warm oven for a few minutes, and it should come up without a problem.
Oregon Cottage’s Best Granola
- 1/2 c. brown sugar or sucanat
- 1/2 cup oil (olive or coconut)
- 3/4-1 c. honey (using 1/2 maple syrup adds a good flavor, too)
- 1 TB. vanilla
- 8 c. rolled oats or other rolled grains
- 1/2 c. sunflower seeds or other nuts
- 1 1/4c. total of any of the following: ground flax seed, wheat germ, wheat or oat bran.
- 1-2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/4 cup flour (optional – increases clumps)
- 1 c. dried fruit (optional)
- Heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Mix sugar, oil, and honey in a saucepan until dissolved.
- Meanwhile, mix all the dry ingredients (except the fruit, if using) in a lightly oiled large roasting pan.
- Pour the sugar mixture over the dry ingredients, stirring until evenly coated.
- Bake for 10 minutes, stir, then bake for 10 minutes more, until lightly brown.
- Remove from oven and add dried fruit, if using. Let cool about 20 minutes before stirring once or twice and then letting cool completely.
- Store in an airtight container.
Makes about 10 cups (easily cut in half to make less, too)[/recipe]