It was about a year ago that the idea to make homemade granola started to form. At that time a typical breakfast included a couple scoops of granola, fresh fruit, and yogurt - either plain with honey or vanilla. After a few months the store bought granola's just weren't cutting it any more. This was partly due to the fact that I began to get picky about the flavor, some were too sweet, and other's kind of bland. But it was also due to me taking the time to look closer at the ingredient list. Some granola's were fine with nothing extra added that I didn't recognize and not too much sugar, however other's were a bit scary.
As I searched out new granola possibilities I tried higher quality "fresh" granola from local bakeries, my favorite local co-op, and even hit up the Whole Foods Market down the street. Don't get me wrong, I found some good stuff. I think eventually I just wanted to see how hard it was to make it on my own, and was excited about being able to tailor the flavors and sweetness level exactly to my taste.
So over the winter I began experimenting with my own granola. I tried a couple recipes, and I gave some as gifts. And after a month or two I established a recipe I love. What's nice is that it only takes about an hour (or less, once you've done it a couple times), and not only do I know exactly what goes in it, but I can make adjustments as needed.
Right now I'm making this granola (or a version of it) about twice a month in order to keep up with the demand at my house. Almost daily I find myself reaching for the granola jar for a couple scoops to top off my breakfast or snack on mid-afternoon.
4 cups rolled oats
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup flax seeds (optional)
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup cane sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup whole raw almonds
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped or baking size
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup dried cherries
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl toss the oats, cinnamon, salt, and flax seeds (if using).
In a small saucepan heat the coconut oil, honey, sugar, and vanilla extract until combined and the sugar has dissolved. Pour the wet mixture over the oat mixture and mix well with a wooden spoon.
Pour the mix onto the prepared baking sheet. Spread it out evenly using the back of the spoon. It is usually a little clumpy and that's good, the clumps will transform into little nuggets of granola.
Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and use a metal spatula to flip the granola. Sprinkle the almonds over the granola and cook for another 5 minutes.
Remove from the oven and using a metal spatula flip the granola again. Sprinkle the walnuts over the granola and bake for another 5-8 minutes. Watch it carefully at this point as you don't want it to burn. Remove from the oven and let it cool completely.
Sprinkle the raisins and cherries over the granola. Using a spoon break the granola up into manageable pieces and scoop into an air tight container (I use old canning jars). The granola will keep for up to two weeks.
Lately, with the warm weather, I've been storing mine in the fridge to keep it as fresh as possible. However, I've also let it sit on the counter for a couple weeks and it is fine, just not as crunchy as I prefer.
I don't use any specific local ingredients for this recipe. I do use organic products for everything but the nuts, and if I can find local dried fruit that isn't raisins or cherries I will use that as a substitute for the standby dried fruits listed above.
*This makes about 6-8 cups cooked granola. The recipe can easily be cut in half.
**I have also experimented with using seeds such as sunflower or sesame. These versions also come out nicely, and I might use a few less nuts to balance out the ratio of oats to extra goodies.
(photography by: alison clayshulte)