The best granola you will ever taste

Home made granola – no dust
All wrapped in a little cellophane bag with a chic black ribbon. A nice present to take to someone if you’re stuck for ideas.

Granola is one of those things it’s so worth making yourself. The shop-bought stuff is either purse-clenchingly expensive or fairly full of dust-type ingredients. Or sometimes, both.

I first started making granola from a Nigella Lawson recipe. It was great. Then I started having babies and for the duration of my pregnancies, and about a year post-partum, all I wanted were two croissants and caffe latte (in a big bowl) for breakfast. Granola? Far too crunchy and munchy.

Then I got the first Ottolenghi cookbook and made his granola. And all other granolas faded into memory. I’ve been meaning to put this recipe up since last year, but some how never managed it. But I went to lunch at my friend Mary’s house the other week, to discuss the Global Agenda for Women and Children 2011 (you mean you don’t discuss stuff like this at lunch?). And I thought, what on earth can I bring her? I’m of the mind you can’t turn up for lunch empty handed. I didn’t want to bring a loaf of sourdough, cos so many people don’t eat wheat these days. I wondered if she’d think me terribly gauche if I turned up with some granola. I’d just made it. I have some nice cellophane bags and lots of ribbon. I asked my partner what he thought. “What can I bring?” I lamented. “What about some granola?” he ventured.

So I knew it was must be a good idea.

When I got there I was so glad I’d brought it as Mary said she loved granola and then, a few days later, she emailed me to say it was the best ever and it had all gone already.

Anyway, here is the recipe. The original recipe doesn’t call for linseeds, but as they are the highest vegetable source of omega 3s, I add ’em. I’m not always exact with the recipe. Sometimes I chuck more almonds in, or more brazils. You can tailor it to suit. But if you start really adding tons to the ‘dry stuff’ then it won’t be so gloriously crispy or tasty (because there won’t be so much wet stuff to coat it, of course you could just up that too, but I think if you play around with some things too much, you lose the essence of it), so don’t go crazy.

The dry stuff

60g whole, unskinned almonds
40g brazils
40g cashews
300g  rolled oats
120g seeds – mixture of sunflower/pumpkin/linseeds depending on what you like

The wet stuff

quarter of a teaspoon of salt (I use rock salt, ground up in a pestle and mortar, I think rock salt adds a sweeter, more complex taste, probably rubbish but that’s what I think)
3 tablespoons of water
4 tablespoons of olive oil (not the super virginal stuff)
120g maple syrup
120g honey

The after stuff

120g dried fruit – Ottolenghi originally asks for 60/60 of dried cranberries and blueberries, I use those and/or figs or raisins etc. Use your imagination and also what’s on offer.

Method

Preheat the oven to 140C. You’ll need two baking sheets lined with baking parchment.

Roughly chop the nuts and put them in a bowl. This is the hardest, for me, part of the recipe. I HATE HATE HATE chopping nuts. But don’t be tempted to do this in a food processor cos you’ll end up with tiny bits of nuts. And that’s really not what you want. When my mum is visiting, I ask her to do it for me and she’s great at it – you can tell she was a professional cook because she chops them evenly. I get all frustrated at the nuts richocheting off the chopping board and end up with tiny chopped bits and huge bits. But I tell myself it adds to the character of the granola.

To the nuts, add the seeds and the oats. Set to one side. This is the dry stuff.

In a sauce pan, put all the wet ingredients and put over a low heat until everything has melted together. You just need to heat things up gently. Pour the wet stuff over the dry stuff (DON’T ADD THE AFTER STUFF YET! THAT’S FOR AFTERS). Mix with a wooden spoon until everything is nicely coated and then divide up over the two trays. Don’t spread too thick a layer or the granola won’t crisp up. I put one on the top tray of the oven (don’t use a fan oven, just a regular oven is fine) and one on the bottom. It takes about 40 mins to be ready – the granola should be golden brown. Obviously the top tray is done quicker, so when that’s done put the bottom tray on the top shelf and give it like another 20 mins or so.

Then you just mix the cooked dry stuff with the after stuff. The granola will crisp up as it cools. Wait for it to be absolutely cool, then put in an air tight container. It keeps for weeks but it won’t last that long.

You can eat it as it is – like a snack. You can eat it just with yoghurt. I eat mine, of a morning, with a dollop of live yoghurt, a handful of fresh blueberries/fruit and some organic semi skimmed milk. I still drink a giant bowl of caffe latte too, since some habits die hard.

2016 update: I have smidged the recipe around a bit but it’s still very true to the original and, I think, still the best granola you can make.

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