Best granola! (to be pronounced in an American accent)
I think granola is just the American word for muesli and though I much prefer our strange and earthy, somewhat comical, name for it, there’s something more satisfying to be had from the tinkling noise of these toasted clusters hitting the bowl in the morning. Not only that, but the colour of rich-baked oats and nuts far outstrips the flakes of dusty, pale muesli we eat here. Granola is darker, richer, crunchier and a little less worthy than the English chaff of milk-soaked, unsalted, unsweetened, blanched ingredients that we eat in these parts. I should point out that I love a bland breakfast – Dorset Cereals muesli and rolled porridge oats with honey and cinnamon are the height of exoticism for me – but substituting them with a bowl of this every other day turns breakfast into a bit of a luxury, turning the milk deliciously sweet and spiced. It’s also good eaten dry, in handfuls, or with yogurt and fruit compote, and the smell of it roasting on a wet Sunday morning, with nothing better to do while you kick back with the papers, is deeply rewarding. I’ve adapted this recipe from Orangette’s adaptation of Nigella Lawson’s and have substituted some ingredients for those easily found in the UK. It yields exactly one large kilner jar, which can be stored in the fridge or cupboard, depending on your preference. (People always fight about this kind of thing. I remember being mocked on the school coach because my mum kept her bread in the fridge.) It has also – for those of you who pitched in on my recent Tweet-out for ideas on dairy and wheat-free breakfasts – turned out to be a brilliant alternative for a daily breakfast without all the faff of poaching eggs and wilting spinach. It’s very good with goats’ milk too.
Set the oven to 190° and add the following ingredients to a large bowl: 5 cups jumbo rolled oats, 2-3 cups of raw almonds and/or pecan halves*, 1 cup sunflower seeds, 3/4 cup sesame seeds**, 3/4 cup light brown sugar***, 2 good tsp ground cinnamon, 1 good tsp ground ginger and 1 large pinch of flaked sea salt. In a separate bowl, add 1/3 cup of maple syrup, 1/4 cup honey, 1 good tsp vanilla extract, 2 tbsp vegetable oil and 3/4 cup unsweetened pressed English apple juice. Mix both bowls separately and add the wet bowl mix to the dry, stirring well to combine. Spread evenly onto two baking paper-lined roasting trays and bake for 30-40 minutes until golden, stirring and turning the mixture every 10 minutes or so. This will give an even colour to the granola and help to unstick it from the tray. Remove from the oven and stir well to stop it from mixing into a hard sheet. Set aside to cool, letting it crisp up as it goes.
* These benefit from a bit of a smashing into smaller pieces under a rolling pin or with a pestle and mortar
** And any other nuts you may want to add. I finished off the ends of pine nut and hazlenut packets which worked really well. Just add what you like.
*** I actually mixed my sugars a bit – third white, third light brown and third muscovado – because they were knocking around the cupboard and the darkest sugar seems to make a great fit. Obviously, this is breakfast, so feel free to lessen the sugars if you want to.