A GENIUS Idea for Granola-Making!
If you’ve made your own granola, you know one of the absolute necessities in the process is constantly stirring it as it bakes, so you get an even roast to the ingredients—especially the oats. This little requirement can get a bit tedious, even annoying after a while.
So imagine my delight when I ran onto a genius idea on one of my favorite sites, Food 52, for eliminating the stir-stir-stir routine of granola-making!
Pastry chef and cookbook author, Alana Taylor Tobin, came up with a technique for making granola with extra clumps and without stirring. This has set my heart racing.
This is so simple, and so genius: You bake granola pressed between two baking sheets! In doing so, you never need to stir it. This method allows the sticky, slow-toasting oats to fuse into one big crispy, browned sheet—like a very thin, very good granola bar that you can break up into whatever size clumps you desire.
And clumps! I’ve always felt a granola recipe that touts that there is “absolutely no clumping” is missing the point of granola! Clumps are what it’s about after all. And that was always the problem with all the stir-stir-stirring for even browning—the clumps would get broken up. So to now know a technique that preserves the clumps and still evenly browns the ingredients—honestly, my heart is racing!
And because of the extra insulation and diffused heat from the top sheet tray, the relatively low oven temperature (320° F), and Taylor-Tobin's instruction to pack it a little thicker around the edges, the granola bakes evenly. Thus there’s not even a worry that things will burn.
So now, thanks to this genius idea from this genius pastry chef, you can have properly dressed clumps—a totally different breed than the pale, gummy balls of oats that come in boxed granolas you buy at the grocery store.
And besides the wonderful texture and taste of clumps, this sheet pan sandwich trick creates them without adding egg whites, flours, or starches as you might have seen in other recipes.
I intend to conclude with my very favorite homemade granola recipe—one I used when my kids were little. Our grocery budget didn’t leave room for boxed cold cereals, so I filled that yearning with this granola. It was so good that I bagged it and sold it at Christmas bazaars to earn money for the family’s Christmas presents.
But before I get to that, let’s keep talking about what you can do with a basic granola recipe. It’s such a versatile food that you can adapt it to suit any range of tastes. For instance, why not gingersnap, maple bourbon brown butter, rum-kissed coconut, cardamom honey, popped amaranth, cherry jubilee, vanilla-caramel…? You get the picture. With this treat we’re limited only by our imaginations.
My recipe includes peanut butter. But why not use almond or cashew butter instead? So let your creative juices flow and mix up a batch of this delicious and satisfying alternative to those dopey and expensive boxed cereals. And then cook it between two parchment-lined baking sheets so you’re sure to get those glorious clumps! And by the way, this is a BASIC recipe; feel free to gussy this up to your heart’s content.
ALICE’S HOMEMADE BASIC GRANOLA
8 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup powdered milk
1 cup whole grain flour
½ teaspoon salt
3 cups water
1 cup healthy oil (almond, sesame, coconut, olive)
1 ½ cups raw honey
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups old-fashioned peanut butter
3 tablespoons vanilla extract
4 cups raisins (and/or other dried, and chopped fruits of choice)
Preheat oven to 320°F. In a large roasting pan, mix the dry ingredients. In a large sauce pan over medium heat, combine the water, oil, honey, brown sugar, and peanut butter, stirring until the peanut butter is dissolved and mixture is smooth.
Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour mixture over dry ingredients and mix well, being sure all ingredients are thoroughly coated.
Spread ingredients on parchment-lined baking sheets and place well-oiled baking sheets atop granola-laden sheets. Slow roast the granola for 2 hours or until ingredients are evenly browned.
Remove from oven, break granola sheets into desired clumps and add raisins and/or other dried fruit. Allow granola to cool, then store in an airtight container for as long as 3 months. This will keep in the refrigerator or freezer longer.
Weekly Newsletter Contributor since 2006
Email the author! email@example.com