Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Making Granola

Granola is endlessly variable, bound only by your whims. Here’s a tip of creating your signature version.

Instructions and Ingredients:

  • Start by positioning the racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven and preheating the oven to 350°F .

  • Spread 6 cups rolled oats (do not use quick-cooking or steel-cut oats) on a very large baking sheet. Toast in the top third of the oven for 10 minutes. Transfer to a very large bowl. (Maintain the oven’s heat.)

  • Next, mix one item from each of the following two lists in a small saucepan set over medium heat.

(a) 2⁄3 cup of any one of these sweeteners:
Maple syrup
Unsweetened apple juice concentrate, thawed
Unsweetened white grape juice concentrate, thawed
Sweetened cranberry juice concentrate, thawed
Cane syrup, such as Lyle’s Golden Syrup
Agave nectar 
(b) 2⁄3 cup of any one of these fats:
Walnut oil
Almond oil
Canola oil
Safflower oil
Grapeseed oil

  • The moment the mixture starts to steam, take the pan off the heat. Stir in

1 tablespoon vanilla extract
and set aside to cool for 5 minutes.

  • As that mixture cools, stir all of the following into the toasted oats:

1⁄2 cup wheat germ
1⁄4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt

  • Also add one item from each of the following two lists to the toasted oats mixture:

(a) 1⁄2 cup nuts, seeds, or coconut:
Finely chopped walnut pieces
Finely chopped pecan pieces
Chopped unsalted cashews
Sliced or slivered almonds
Unsalted shelled sunflower seeds
Shredded unsweetened coconut 
(b) 1⁄2 cup fortifier:
Powdered dry milk
Powdered fat-free dry milk
Powdered fat-free dry whey

  • Finally, stir in the prepared cooked sweetening and oil mixture.

  • Spray two large baking sheets with nonstick spray or grease them with a little oil dabbed on a paper towel. Divide the oat mixture between the two baking sheets, spreading it to the corners. Place the trays in the top and bottom thirds of the oven and bake for 10 minutes, stirring once.

  • Reverse the trays top to bottom and back to front, and continue cooking until lightly browned and fragrant, about 10 more minutes, tossing and stirring once or twice.

  • Place the baking sheets on wire racks. Stir 1 cup of any one of the following or any combination into the mixture on the trays (1⁄2 cup into each tray): 

  • Chopped dried apples, chopped dried apricots, chopped dried figs, chopped dried pineapple, chopped dried strawberries, dried blueberries, dried cranberries, dried currants, raisins

  • Cool to room temperature on the trays without disturbing, about 1 1⁄2 hours. 

To store: Break up and seal in plastic bags or containers; the granola will keep in a dark, dry place at room temperature for up to 2 months.

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