Sunday, June 24, 2012

Homemade Granola

This recipe is originally from the University of Michigan Biological Station, delivered to me by my wonderful sister. It was so long ago that she gave me the recipe though, that she now asks me for all of the measurements. I eat this granola every day - on top of yogurt or ice cream, with milk, mixed with fruit, or just as little handful as a snack. It's the best - Give it a try!

The finished product - it's even tastier looking in person

Homemade Granola

1 C loosely packed brown sugar
A little less than 1/2 C cooking oil
1/2 C honey or pure maple syrup (I do a combination of both)
1 tsp vanilla extract
~ 1 tsp ground cinnamon

6 C oats (NOT quick oats!)
2 C nuts - I recommend chopped pecans and sliced almonds

2 C dried fruit
(I do raisins and cherries, but you could try anything like cranberries, bananas or apples, etc.)

First, heat the brown sugar, oil, honey/syrup, vanilla, and cinnamon in a saucepan over medium or medium-high heat. Stir it occasionally to help the sugar to dissolve, cooking the mixture for about 3 minutes, until it is smooth and bubbly. Meanwhile, combine the oats and nuts in a large bowl. When the sauce is finished, remove it from the heat and pour it over the oat mixture. Use a rubber spatula to remove every last drop from the saucepan, then quickly stir it all into the oat mixture. Feel free to dive in with your hands here - you want to mix it in very well and break up any clumps by rubbing them between your fingers. 

Pour the granola onto the biggest cookie sheet you've got, or distribute it across two. You want a nice thin layer of granola so don't try to squeeze it on too small of a cookie sheet. Also, make sure whatever you use has nice high sides so the granola doesn't spill out when you stir it! 

I use my giant commercial size baking sheet which easily holds an entire batch of granola, but whatever you've got will work

Bake the granola at about 250 deg. F, checking and stirring it every fifteen minutes or so. I have to do mine on the bottom rack so that my giant cookie sheet will fit, but any middle to low rack should be fine. If you are doing multiple sheets, be sure to rotate them accordingly so that everything cooks evenly. 
When you stir the granola, be sure to shift the layers and move everything all around. For me, the stuff in the back of the oven cooks faster, so I am always sure to either move the oats front to back or rotate the cookie sheet. 
After about three fifteen-minute increments, or when the granola is starting to look nice and golden brown, it is time to add the fruit! Add the fruit to the cookie sheet and give everything a good stir, then put it back in the oven for about another ten to fifteen minutes. The key is to get the raisins to puff up - that's when you know you're done. Don't cook the fruit for more than about 20 minutes max - it will get crunchy rather than the perfect chewy texture. 

Here you can see a "puffed up," perfectly done raisin. (Right smack dab in the center of the photo)

When the fruit is done, remove the sheet from the oven and allow the granola to cool. for at least an hour before packing it away. I always store half of mine in an air-tight container on the counter and the other half in a one quart ZipLock in the freezer. Don't let your granola get stale! 


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