Now that I’m a health guru you might suspect that I made granola last week because of my new fitness regimen. But you’d be wrong, very wrong indeed; I made granola last week because of the newest cookbook in my collection, a gorgeous cookbook that I bought for my friend Lisa’s 30th birthday and that I secretly wished I’d kept for myself. But then the publisher offered to send me a review copy and I was in heaven. The book in question is “Baked: New Frontiers in Baking” by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito of the Baked Bakery in Red Hook and next to Martha Stewart’s Baking Book this may quickly become my favorite baking book in my collection.
Spying this book in the store, looking for a gift for Lisa, and remembering it from David Lebovitz’s Altoid Brownie post, I flipped through it eagerly–admiring the pictures, the layout, and the enticing recipes (their “Sweet & Salty Cake” looks insanely good)–but the thing that really grabbed me was the granola.
Granola? Wait, isn’t granola healthy hippie food that’s supposed to be good for you? Why in the world would you ignore the banana cupcakes, the German Chocolate Cake and the pear plum crisp for granola?!
The answer, I suppose, is that I’ve never really found a granola that I love. I really enjoyed Molly’s chocolate granola, but those bits of chocolate made it so decadent I couldn’t really make it a permanent fixture in my repertoire.
No, I was looking for a life long commitment here. Not a one-night-stand granola, but a granola I could commit to. And that’s exactly what I found in the pages of “Baked.”
It’s a simple enough granola: oats, cinnamon, honey, brown sugar cook together and then nuts are added (almonds and hazelnuts) and, at the end, golden raisins and dried cherries (I didn’t have dried cherries, but I wished I did: I love them.) Still, somehow the balance of all the elements yielded just the granola I was craving; it’s sweet, but not overbearing, and it feels more naughty than it actually is. I ate it all last week and I plan to make another batch this week to supplement my hours slaving away at the gym. (Ok, more like 20 minutes slaving away at the gym.) But it’s a perfect pick-me-up after the gym and before dinner. I serve it, as you can see in the picture above, with Fage yogurt (0% fat), a drizzle of honey and a cut-up banana. But you can serve it however you want; you can even eat it plain. It’s just that good.
Easy Homemade Granola
from “Baked: New Frontiers in Baking” by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito
2 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup whole almonds [Note: I used slivered almonds, and they worked fine.]
1/3 cup whole hazelnuts
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup dried cherries
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, toss the oats with the cinnamon and salt.
In a medium bowl, stir together the oil, honey, brown sugar, and vanilla. Whisk until completely combined.
Pour the honey mixture over the oats mixture and use your hands to combine them: Gather up some of the mixture in each hand and make a fist. Repeat until all of the oats are coated with the honey mixture.
Pour the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Spread it out evenly, but leave a few clumps here and there for texture.
Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and use a metal spatula to lift and flip the granola. Sprinkle the almonds over the granola and return the baking sheet to the oven.
Bake for 5 minutes, then remove from the oven and use a metal spatula to lift and flip the granola. Sprinkle the hazelnuts over the granola and return the baking sheet to the oven.
Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven. Let cool completely. Sprinkle the raisins and cherries over the granola…
and use your hands to transfer it to an airtight container.
The granola will keep for 1 week.