I have made granola about a thousand times.
Okay, that may be a slight exaggeration, but not by too much.
Granola is one of those snacks that I can eat any time of the day and any time of the year. Granola is so customizable. It is easily altered depending on what you have on hand and what you are craving. Sometimes you feel like a granola chock full of nuts and dried fruit, sometimes you might be feeling the peanut butter chocolate chip combo. Often I eat it straight out of the container, but if I want a breakfast treat I’ll add it to a bowl of milk and eat it like cereal. When I’m feeling really elaborate I’ll sprinkle it between layers of fruit and yogurt. I know, so fancy.
I took a class in college about food in American culture. As you can imagine, it was a great class. We had an entire unit devoted to studying barbecue and a unit on community cookbooks. Despite the titles of these topics, I learned a lot in the class and a lot from my classmates. Each time we had class one person was assigned to bring in a food that they loved or a food that was traditional in their household.
One of my classmates grew up working in the bakery her parents owned. She had many fresh bread recipes memorized and lots of pastry techniques up her sleeve, but when it was her turn to bring food to class, she brought in the bakery’s locally famous granola. At that point in my novice stages of granola making I had only attempted to make the treat a few times. I held on to every tip and sliver of information she told us about the granola and how her parents created their recipe. That is where I learned about powdered milk and egg whites.
Powdered milk is not an ingredient I use in really anything else. It is a bit strange when you think about it, but it does make a difference in granola. It and egg whites are the secret keys that hold the ingredients together well and help create those large clumps that I love.
Over the years making granola recipe after granola recipe, I have determined just how I like my classic granola: not too sweet, a little salty kick, large clumps – not itty-bitty pieces that freely roam about a bag or bowl of milk. I like it nutty with small morsels of dried fruit for great texture and natural sweetness, but not so much of either of these ingredients that the granola falls apart (remember, no roaming granola). This granola recipe combines all of those aspects and creates an addictively delicious snack or meal that can be tailored to your liking.
A few notes about the recipe before you begin (don’t worry, they are helpful, not overwhelming!):
– Flaxseed meal is optional and doesn’t add anything super substantial to the granola, just a good nutty flavor and some extra nutrients. If you leave the flaxseed meal out, add a bit more almond meal in its place so you have the same amount of dry ingredients. Conversely, you can also use all flaxseed meal and no almond meal if that is how you want to roll.
– Powdered milk and egg whites both make the granola stick together and clump better. You can use one or both. I find that both are helpful because the powdered milk on its own doesn’t always make the granola as clumpy as I like it and adding more egg whites to make up for a lack of powdered milk just makes the granola strangely chewy, rather than nicely crunchy. Powdered milk is usually easy to find on the baking aisle in the grocery store.
– Sometimes I chop the nuts, sometimes I don’t, depending on how I’m feeling. The granola turns out great either way, so go with what your mood and craving is telling you.
– I like to use a combination of sweeteners like honey and pure maple syrup. Sometimes I add in molasses and use equal amounts of the three ingredients. You can use your favorites but remember that each provides a different flavor.
– Adding the dried fruit before baking the mixture incorporates it into the granola pieces, but can also make the fruit a bit tougher. I usually add it before baking because I like to have a bit of everything baked into each bite. You can also add it after the granola bakes if you don’t mind having the dried fruit separate from the granola pieces.
Hope’s Favorite Classic Granola
2 ¼ cups rolled oats (not quick cooking)
1 cup coconut
¾ cups nuts, chopped or not – your preference
3 tablespoons flaxseed meal (optional, see note)
2 tablespoons almond meal
1 tablespoon powdered milk (optional, see note)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon sea salt
4 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
½ teaspoons almond extract
1-2 egg whites
¾-1 cup craisins or other dried fruit
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the oats, coconut and nuts evenly across the prepared baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Pour the toasted ingredients into a large bowl and add the flax seed meal, almond meal, powdered milk, cinnamon, nutmeg and sea salt. Mix well then set aside.
In a medium bowl, mix the honey, maple syrup, melted coconut oil, olive oil, vanilla and almond extracts until combined.
Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients and mix until all of the dry ingredients are coated. You can either add your dried fruit now or after the granola has cooked. Adding it now will incorporate it into the granola pieces but might make the fruit tougher. Adding it after the granola is broken up will maintain the softness of the fruit but it will not be cooked within the granola.
Add the egg white(s), if using and mix until they are fully incorporated into the granola.
Evenly distribute your granola onto the parchment covered baking sheet you used to toast the oats, coconut and nuts earlier. Bake for about 30 minutes, turning halfway through and checking to make sure the edges do not burn. I like my granola in large clumps so I typically don’t mix it up during the baking process but if you like smaller chunks, toss the granola around on the pan when you rotate it. After your granola is done, let it cool completely before breaking it into pieces.