Homemade Granola

Today's post is no joke - I finally decided to tackle homemade granola! I had put it off for quite some time because there seemed to be a research learning curve I needed to tackle. When I start on new projects like these I try to find someone who does it so I can ask them questions and get some insider tips. Well I couldn't find anyone who made homemade granola so that led to many Internet tabs being open as I began my quest for figuring out how to make homemade granola.

As you might can imagine all of those open tabs had websites that were telling me different things. So this tells me that I really can't go wrong since most of the recipes / instructions were similar. I did, however, find this Buzzfeed article "How to make the best granola ever" most helpful. It is what I chose to reference for making our homemade granola. I liked it because it shares a template for how to make granola and then you can customize it however you want. For example, the recipe calls for grains and nuts but gives you several different options for what kind of grains and nuts to use. They share this idea in the article: Bottom line: All granolas are variations on the same simple formula. Definitely hop over to Buzzfeed if you're interested in making your own granola!

Here's my picture shortcut for the granola and below is the condensed Buzzfeed information. I have this printed and grab it whenever I'm making a batch.

How To Make The Best Granola Ever Source: Buzzfeed

With approximate amounts per batch, but feel free to tweak.
What we primarily use is noted below each ingredient.

GRAIN — 3 cups
   Plain rolled oats; use the “old-fashioned” kind, not instant or quick-cooking. Also consider: other rolled/flaked grains (rye, barley, etc); a couple tablespoons of (uncooked) quinoa, which bakes up nice and crunchy;a tablespoon or two of wheat germ or wheat bran, which are very good for you and will help bind the granola together.
   *We primarily use old fashioned oats.
NUTS — 1 to 1 1/2 cups
   The pecan may be the most perfect nut for any and all granola. Also consider: almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, or walnuts. If you have raw nuts, mix them in with everything else and bake normally. If you have nuts that are already roasted, wait until after baking and add them along with the dried fruit.
   *We use either raw pecans or almonds and add them in before baking; then sometimes we'll add pistachios after the baking.
SWEETENER — 1/2 to 3/4 cup
   Use a liquid sweetener (maple syrup, honey, agave or brown rice syrup). Maple syrup is much less globby than honey, thus easier to mix in. Combining the syrup with a little brown sugar can add a nice caramelized, crackly edge.
   *We prefer honey; I tried a batch with maple syrup and we didn't like it as much.
OIL — 1/4 to 1/2 cup
   Oil is important because it encourages the granola to get delightfully crispy-crunchy, keeps it from turning into a sticky mess, and makes it generally more delicious (fat carries flavor). Neutral oils like canola or grapeseed are a safe bet, but here’s a better idea: use good extra-virgin olive oil. It gives the granola a slightly bitter and very excellent complexity. Melted coconut oil is also a fun way to add flavor.
   *We use extra virgin olive oil
SALT — 1 tsp kosher or 3/4 tsp regular

Use if you like, skip if you don’t.
SEEDS — 1 to 2 cups
   Mix in raw seeds with grains and nuts and they’ll toast while baking. Also consider: pumpkin seeds, sunflower, flax, millet, and sesame seeds.
   *Sometimes we add pumpkin seeds.
COCONUT — 1 cup
   Big unsweetened coconut flakes or “chips” will toast nicely without burning.
   *We're not big coconut fans so we don't add this.
DRIED FRUIT — 1 cup (add after baking)
   The most important thing to remember if you’re adding dried fruit to granola is that you should NOT mix it in with the other ingredients until AFTER baking. Bigger fruits you should slice/chop before adding: dried apricots, dried figs, dried apples, dried pineapple, dried mango. Little fruits you can throw in as-is: raisins or golden raisins, craisins, dried cherries, dried blueberries. Citrus zest is also nice - try lemon, orange, or grapefruit.
   *We typically add dried cranberries but have also experimented with dried blueberries.
SPICES — 1 tsp.
   Cinnamon is pretty standard. Nutmeg and ginger are very nice too.
   *We've experimented the most with spices; I try to complement whatever other ingredients I'm using.
CHOCOLATE - 1/4 cup cocoa and/or 1 cup chips
   Option 1: Add 1/4 cup cocoa powder along with other dry ingredients before baking.
   Option 2: Add 1 cup chocolate chips AFTER granola has been baked and is cool, unless you want them to melt into globs.
   *We added chocolate chips to one batch and they were really tasty.
EGG WHITE — 1 egg white (about 2 Tbsp.)
   If you want to feel more virtuous about your granola, lightly beat one egg white until it’s foamy, and mix it in as a replacement for some of the oil (2-4 Tbsp). This will help bind the granola together and make it crispy.
   *We have not tried this.

   Measure grain, nuts, seeds, salt, and spices into a large bowl. *I add them directly to my baking pan to save myself a bowl to wash.
   Add sweeteners, oil, and egg white (if using). *I mix them together in a measuring cup then add to the pan.
   Stir, stir, stir.
   Spread out on a large rimmed baking sheet. You can line the sheet with parchment paper to guarantee zero sticking (helpful if you’re using less oil), or not worry about it.
   Bake at 300 degrees for 30-45 minutes, giving it a stir after about 20 minutes. All ovens are different, so check yours at the earlier end of the time range to see how brown it is, and keep a nose out to make sure it’s not burning. Keep in mind that it won’t be crunchy even when it’s done baking; the granola will set and harden as it cools. *I usually don't keep it in the full 45 minutes.
   Stop when the granola looks toasty brown and smells incredible.
   Let the granola cool completely in the pan, then store in an airtight container. *See below for clusters; we don't like big chunks / clusters so I give the granola a stir about 5-10 minutes after it's come out of the oven.

If you want big chunks/clusters of granola for snacking…
1) Definitely use egg white. Whisk in a small bowl until it’s foamy, then add to the granola mixture. Pat the granola into an even layer on a baking sheet.
2) Do NOT stir the granola while baking it. Just bake normally (45+ min at 300 degrees), let it cool completely in the pan, and then break into whatever size chunks you fancy.

We have fun experimenting with various granolas!

Patrick had really gotten into eating granola but I guess I was the one who wanted to venture into making homemade granola so that it could be a bit more cost effective and we could control what went into it. Here's Patrick's thoughts on the granola: "I was really surprised with how much better the homemade granola was than the various store-bought brands we had tried. I keep a jar at my desk to snack on when I get hungry in the late afternoon, and it's very filling and delicious (with some nutrition too!)." 

As Patrick mentioned he primarily snacks on his granola at work. I like adding the granola to a dollop of yogurt and have it at breakfast. Or we'll do this during the weekend as an afternoon snack too. Check out some of the flavors we've tried; they all use old fashioned oats and extra virgin olive oil so the nuts, sweeteners, and spices are what I changed. 

Nuts: Pecans (added before cooking)
Dried fruit: Blueberries
Sweetener: Maple syrup
Spices: Cinnamon
Thoughts: The maple syrup is stickier than the honey and makes the granola a bit more clustery than we like.

Nuts: Almonds (before cooking)
Dried fruit: No fruit, added mini chocolate chips
Sweetener: Honey
Spices: Cinnamon
Thoughts: This one is dangerously addicting but a bit on the sweet side.

Nuts: Almonds (before cooking, pistachios after cooking)
Dried fruit: Cranberries
Sweetener: Honey
Spices: Nutmeg and ginger
Thoughts: This is a bit more savory with the extra nuts and lack of cinnamon. Patrick requests this one the most.

If you're a granola eater I promise trying a homemade batch will be easier than you think!

1 comment:

  1. Have never done much with granola but sounds good.