Saturday, June 12, 2010

Seven-Year Granola

I know I’ve already posted two granola recipes in the past six months (the chocolate chip granola and Mom’s granola). I’ve been looking for a new recipe, and I’ve made several already. There’s been this one, and that one; both of them were good, but nothing to get ecstatic about. I’ve got a lot more recipes bookmarked and I’ll get around to trying them too eventually. However, I came across one recipe that I just had to share: the Seven-Year Granola (do read the story behind the name, it’s wonderful and very well written).

The secret behind this granola, apart from the spices, is the use of oat flour, which helps create small clusters in the granola. Also, this recipe calls for sugar instead of liquid sweeteners, and the result is granola that is more crispy than chewy. You will need quick oats, not rolled oats (click here for a great illustrated guide to oats). For the nuts, I used a mixture of pecans and almonds (about 2 cups and 1 cup, respectively), but you can change that depending on what you have on hand.

1 lb (450g) quick oats
3 cups coarsely chopped raw nuts and/or seeds
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cardamom
½ tsp ground mace
1 cup, packed dark brown sugar
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter or margarine
1/3 cup water
½ tsp fine salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
dried fruit, at your discretion

Preheat the oven to 300 °F.

In a food processor, coffee grinder or blender, grind half the oats to a fine powder. In a large bowl, combine the whole oats, ground oats, nuts, seeds and spices.

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the brown sugar, butter and water and heat just until the butter has melted and the mixture is bubbly. Stir the mixture together until smooth, then stir in the salt and vanilla.

Pour the wet mixture over the oats and nuts, stirring well to coat (you can use your hands). It should be uniformly moist - stir in another tablespoon or two of water if it isn't. Let stand for about ten minutes.

Spread the mixture out on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper, separating it into irregular clumps with your fingers, and allowing space between the clumps for the hot air to circulate. Slide into the middle of the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and stir, gently breaking up the mixture into small-to-medium sized clumps. Return to the oven and bake another 15 minutes or so before stirring again. Repeat the bake-and-stir until the mixture is a uniform golden brown and completely dry; this usually takes 1-1 1/2 hours. Cool completely, then stir in any dried fruit you want to use.

Store in a covered container at room temperature. Serve with milk or plain yogurt and fresh fruit as desired.

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