Obsessed with… Granola
My obsession with granola started when I was at school in Durham, North Carolina. My parents were visiting and we took a drive to Raleigh, where we fell upon a bakery that had the largest slabs of granola in the window we had ever seen. It stopped us in our tracks, and was simply outrageous. After graduating, I found out that bakery was Big Sky Bread and convinced them (before they started shipping nationwide) to send a massive box to my parents in New York as a surprise. A bigger surprise came years later when I could no longer track them down; the bakery closed. Years went by and my parents and I would say to each other from time to time, “remember that granola in Raleigh…?” We all did.
Well guess what, fast forward another several years to today – and I found them again ! Bonus – just in time for my father’s birthday too (happy birthday, Dad ! ). With a brand new, bigger bakery and warehouse in Pelham, Alabama, Jeff and Patti Pierce will continue to make that same original, honey almond Big Sky Granola that happens to be available in grocery stores across the country, mostly in the south. I may have to test their international shipping now…
While still in college, I started baking my own granola too, playing around with different nuts, seeds and oats, and using all sorts of sweeteners, like honey, brown sugar, maple syrup and molasses. I loved making different varieties, mixing and matching ingredients. There were batches that I loaded with dried fruit like my more recent Extra Crispy and Colorful Granola. And batches that tried to emulate the recipe from Cambridge’s Formaggio Kitchen, a favorite shop of mine while living in Boston.
There was also a delicious granola-filled weekend in Connecticut when hostess (Dorie Greenspan) and guest (me) coincidentally both made a few batches ! I had just returned from a month-long trip backpacking around Morocco (on my honeymoon !), with plenty of local goodies, including a 4.5 kilo box of small, black dates from Zagora and a large jar of carob honey I found in Essaouira. Into my “Moroccan Granola” it went, that finished in three flavors: plain, chocolate and licorice (the latter, Dorie’s favorite). Dorie shared photos of the three batches and her own granola recipe for Oatmeal, Honey and Nut Granola.
I still make granola on a regular basis – regularly simply because I finish it too fast. While I like to try new recipes, thanks to all the creative ideas from food bloggers (see below for links), I do have my preferences now: without dried fruit, just tons of grains and nuts. No honey either; I like maple syrup. And two types of sea salt. Oh, and dark chocolate too, but of course. After playing with countless recipes over the years, tweaking them here and there, I settled on my final recipe that I continue to bake without changing a thing. It’s just too good. And so good that I don’t dare eat it with milk or yogurt, nor even as ice cream topping (my usual). This granola gets eaten straight from the jar, dry.
The key to its crunch and addictive nature ? It’s all in the mixing. Before it goes in the oven and while it’s baking. And here’s where being a tad neurotic comes in handy too – I flip the granola like pancakes every 10 minutes or so, and towards the end, every 5 minutes. That way, it’s uniformly baked (never burnt) and so crunchy that it sounds like pebbles when you pour it into jars. Music to my ears.
Kerrin’s Crunchy Granola with Dark Chocolate & Sea Salt
500 grams large oats
400 grams mixed nuts (cashews, almonds, pecans, Brazilian nuts, hazelnuts), coarsely chopped
300 grams mixed seeds (sunflower, sesame, pumpkin, flax, buckwheat, poppy)
200 grams apple sauce, unsweetened
200 grams dark chocolate
100 grams light brown sugar
4 Tablespoons maple syrup (Vermont grade B)
1 tsp Maldon salt
fleur de sel
Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius / 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Toss oats, seeds and nuts in a very large bowl. Add brown sugar and Maldon salt, and mix thoroughly. Add apple sauce and mix to distribute. Add maple syrup and mix well again to coat all the dry ingredients. Folding is a good technique here – continue to turn the bowl, while tipping it away from you, all the while using a large spatula to pull mixture up towards you and away, in a circular motion. Keep mixing.
Spread as thin and evenly as possible on two large sheet pans. Bake in intervals of 10-15 minutes for an hour, switching sheets top and bottom, back and front. Each time, use a large flat metal spatula to turn granola like a hamburger or pancake, to bake both sides. (It will start to color after the third time.) Depending on your oven and how dark you like your granola, continue to bake, another 2-3 intervals of 5 minutes, repeating the above process.
Let cool completely. Add chopped chocolate and sprinkle with fleur de sel.
More granola recipes, inspiration & sweet ideas:
Take your pick of ingredients – coconut oil, puffed rice, wheat germ, flax seeds, cocoa powder, rice syrup, olive oil, butter…
Farmhand’s Choice Granola by Nekisia Davis of Early Bird Foods
Chocolate Peanut Granola on Deliciously Organic
Gluten-Free Chocolate Granola on Passionate About Baking
Chocolate Crunch Granola on delicious:days
Almond and Seed Granola on La Petite Grenouille
Bob’s Toasted Muesli via What Katie Ate
“The Best Granola Recipe” by David Lebovitz
Crunchy Nutty Granola on Will Travel for Food