That’s what I’ve been making for the last three days. And now it is all bagged, boxed and ready to come with me on an adventure in Nevada. If you too are also planning to participate in some gifting, decommodification, radical inclusion and self-reliance this week, then perhaps I will see you there. Don’t know what I’m talking about? I’ll clue you in my next post.
In addition to this latest binge, I figure that I have made about 300 pounds of granola over the last few years. I’ve long since memorized the recipe and can now tell when the oats are done from the smell in my kitchen.
I’ve found that the granola has positive qualities that vary depending on how long you bake it. A little underbaked, it is chewy. A little overcooked and it becomes toasty like popcorn. A combo of these different tastes makes for a great snack or bowl of cereal.
Here is the recipe that I used for this extra large batch of crunchy goodness (reduced down to a more reasonable 2.5 lb yield).
- 1 2/3 cups packed dark brown sugar (or light brown if that’s all you have) (290g)
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 slightly heaping teaspoon kosher salt (7g)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or canola oil
- 4 teaspoons good vanilla extract
- 9 cups old fashioned oats (900g)
- 3/4 cup sliced almonds (or whatever you have. Walnuts tend to burn, so watch out for these)
- 1 tablespoon flax seed or other seed or no seed (as you like)
- Dried Fruit – THIS GOES IN LATER – DO NOT BAKE THE FRUIT
Preheat your oven to 290 degrees F or 265 degrees convection.
Put the dark brown sugar and the water into a microwave safe container with high sides. I use a 4-cup pyrex measuring cup.
Then mix it up.
Microwave this concoction for 3-4 minutes. It will bubble up, so watch it carefully to make sure that your container has sufficiently high sides. Before I found the right container, I had to clean the bottom of my microwave more times than I’d like to admit.
When it comes out of the microwave, it will be a rich dark syrup like this. If there is some sugar that hasn’t quite dissolved, a quick stir should take care of that.
Next add the salt, oil and vanilla.
Give it a good mix. Note: The kosher salt won’t really mix in, but let’s pretend anyway.
Next put the oats, nuts and flax seed into a big mixing bowl like this one.
Pour the hot syrup into the bowl and make sure to get every bit out including all the salt which has a tendency to settle toward the bottom.
Doesn’t this look luscious? What’s not to like?
Now this part is kind of important. Right away, you are going to mix this up really thoroughly so that every oat, nut and seed is completely covered with syrup. It may look as if the syrup won’t stretch, but trust me it will. As you stir it, you will start to notice that it clumps together in parts. This is a very good sign.
When it’s done, it will look kind of like this.
Do not delay this next step.
Spread the warm granola on two parchment-lined baking sheets. IMPORTANT TIP: Use a light colored pan if you have it. If all you have is dark, the granola may get too dark on the bottom. Also, you definitely want to use the parchment and to make it larger than the pan (see the next photo). It will make your life a lot easier later. You can use the same pieces of parchment over and over, at least 10 times because you will be making this granola again.
Immediately bake the granola for 50-55 minutes at 290 degrees. Rotate the pans in the oven midway through cooking if you can.
NOTE: For maximum clumpiness, do not stir the granola at any point. Let it sit as a block in the pan. You don’t want to break it up until it is totally cool.
You’ll know the granola is done when your kitchen smells like cookies. Also your granola will be dry and golden brown. Let it cool on the pan for about 3 minutes. During this time it will rapidly change from slightly soft to very crunchy.
Pick up the parchment paper and move the warm granola to cooling racks or directly to your kitchen counter taking care not to break it up yet. That comes after it is cool.
And check out the pans…they are already clean. Thank you parchment paper!!
This is about 2.5 lbs of granola. Cool to room temperature and store in a sealed container for at least a week, possibly more, but we’ve never had it last that long.
Prepare to become addicted.
WHY GRANOLA FAILS
Here are some pitfalls to avoid.
PROBLEM: Granola burns on the bottom.
SOLUTION: Watch your granola carefully and rotate the pans when necessary.
PROBLEM: Granola isn’t clumpy.
SOLUTION: Don’t stir your granola until it is out of the oven and completely cool.
PROBLEM: Granola isn’t just crunchy, it’s kind of grainy and dry.
SOLUTION: Work quickly with your syrup. Use hot syrup on your oats, spread in pans and bake immediately.