Granola Methodology (recipe)
My favorite granola was always the original from La Brea Bakery, by Nacy Silverton. It had big clusters of whole almonds and pumpkin seeds that were toasted to a dark brown. I’ve honestly never been able to recreate it and don’t wanna try anymore, I think it’s better in memory. I eat granola every morning, with yogurt, or milk, or in a smoothie. Making it is a great joy and good for incorporating unused nuts and dried fruit in your cabinets. It’s one of the easiest things you can make and tailor exactly to your taste. It’s pretty hard to mess up too. It’s all about the method.
Coconut or grapeseed oil (Other neutral oil can be used)
Sweetener - I like the use the least refined versions of sugar honey or maple syrup are perfect for this, but you can use brown sugar as well.
Dried fruit: Currants, raisins, cherries, blueberry, strawberry, banana, coconut flake
Nuts: Almond, Pine nuts, Hazelnuts, pistachios etc...
Seeds: Sesame, Chia, Poppyseed, pumpkin seeds etc..,
Spices: Cinnamon, Cacao, Nutmeg, Ginger, et cetera + salt
Ratios are what matters in granola. 1 to 6 is the golden ratio. 1 Part plus a little wet to six parts dry. Or one cup of oil + sweetener to 6 cups of dry. The amount of oil to sugar varies depending how sweet you like your granola. I like to do about ¾ of the wet as honey and maple syrup and the last quarter as coconut oil. The sugary components help with clumping while the fat helps the granola brown and crisp. It’s also okay if you don’t measure here and just want to eyeball. This isn’t academic baking you can always add more. I whisk my oil and sugar together with my spices and salt so the dry ingredients are evenly coated. Another way to check for the right amount of wet is the squeeze a fistful of your granola together before baking and after you have evenly mixed the dry and wet ingredients together, you should be able to form a loose ball that crumbles as you release your fist, think like damp sand. I call it the wet sand test.
For the dry component. Id say about ¾ of your dry ingredients will be oats in traditional granola, I like to do about half oats because I like a lot of nuts and fruit. It’s up to you but ill give you two of my favorite variations.
Coconut oil, Honey, and maple syrup
Dried coconut flakes
Coconut oil, honey, and maple syrup
Dried sour cherry
Pre-heat oven to 300
Put your wet ingredients in a bowl, the larger the better, you want plenty of room for mixing. Next, add your spices and whisk until its evenly incorporate. I usually salt to taste, so Ill add some to the wet base and add more before I bake if I feel like it needs it. The right ratio of savory and sweet makes it more addictive. It’s not as good as cookie dough but raw granola isn’t bad so taste it before you bake it.
Pour your oats, nuts, fruits, and seeds on top of the wet and with clean hands thoroughly mix for a few minutes until everything is evenly coated. At this point, you can do the wet sand test I mentioned above. Squeeze a handful tightly in your palms if it holds together for a few seconds then slowly breaks down like falling wet sand, you’re good.
Next, you need a sheet tray with a Silpat or parchment paper. Pour the granola onto the tray and spread into a layer no thicker than half an inch. The thicker your layer the more it “steams” and the less crunchy your granola will be.
Once it’s evenly spread put the tray in the oven with a repeating 10-minute timer. Every 10 minutes take the tray out and using a spoon or rubber spatula move the granola around flipping it so what was on the bottom becomes the top, this helps it brown evenly. Flatten it back out before putting it back in the oven. Keep an eye on it! You want it golden but too dark and it will be bitter, this usually takes between 2 ½ turns and 3 ½ turns or 25-40 minutes depending on your oven.
For larger clusters: When your granola is toasted to your liking, remove the tray from the oven. And using a rubber spatula apply pressure all across the granola tray while it’s hot. You want to compact it as tightly as possible. Then let it fully cool in the tray, this will leave you with some larger shards of granola which you can break into your desired cluster size.
Personally I have come to love a less compacted granola almost like a toasted muesli. For this I give the granola another toss when it comes out of the oven, I let it cool and pour it directly into an airtight container for storage.