I always have a clear out of shelves and cupboards on New Year’s Day. It’s a therapeutic ritual before I go back to work to see what I can use up, batch cook and freeze for the busy weeks ahead.
Packets of dried fruits and nuts are always hanging around and I usually bake them into biscuits or cakes but we’ve eaten so many over the festive weeks I thought I’d be a little more virtuous and make Granola instead.
A few learnings…
There are so many recipes, measures and methods but here’s what I learned…
Oats: Use chunky old-fashioned rolled oats and not the thinner quick-cook variety which are perfect for Bircher Muesli. The thinner oats will just go flaky or soggy and burn. I would suggest Flavahan’s which are readily available in supermarkets.
Oil: The oats are really not going to toast nicely without some oil so whatever your temptation is to not add it, try to resist. I used a plain vegetable oil but would go with coconut oil as a preference as this is the healthiest oil to heat.
Baking Trays vs Roasting Tins: Use flat baking trays to get a crisp, deep brown finish and use a deep roasting tray to get a less crunchy, light brown finish. I used both so I have a nice mix of crunchy and chewy.
Sweeteners: If you want to sweeten the granola, you don’t have to use any sugar or honey. Thick fruit purée works well. I concluded that by this logic a sweet vegetable purée should also work so am experimenting with some beetroot. I’ll let you know how that works out!
Nuts: There are lots of theories on when to add the nuts in. If you are like me and don’t like them too crunchy, I would suggest that you add them half way through baking – so around 20 minutes in. This way they’ll be crunchy but not overly hard once they have cooled. The nuts I added the my flat baking tray got a little burned and too hard.
Cooling: I forgot to line my baking tray with greaseproof paper and then also forgot to transfer the oats into a mixing bowl straight away so they stuck a little to the base of the tray. It does take a while to cool the mixture so I would suggest laying out some greaseproof paper on a couple of tea towels and pouring the hot mixture over them and leaving to cool in a thin layer. Fork through after about 10 minutes to break up big lumps.
Dried Fruit: Again lots of different suggestions on when to add fruit in. I added it into the baked mixture before setting it to cool. This way the pieces of sticky, dried fruit got a lovely coating of the oats and made a few more clumps. when the mixture was completely cool I added some pumpkin seeds and dessicated coconut to break up the “brownness”.