Monday, August 2, 2010

Granola Trials: Why you should add butter or oil to your granola

One of my absolute favorite things to eat during the summer has to be vanilla yogurt, fresh fruit, and granola. Blueberries, raspberries, peaches, nectarines: you name it, and I pile it on to yogurt and granola, and eat until my heart's content.
This desire, however, has left me needing granola around my house all the time. While you can certainly buy some gorgeous all-natural granola in the stores these days, I figured it was about time I nailed down a home-made granola recipe I loved.

Hence, the 'Granola Trials'.

In my research on granola recipes, I was struck by the difference in the amounts of butter or oil used in recipes. At one extreme, Mark Bittman offers us a recipe that calls for no oil or butter whatsoever. While other recipes call for sticks upon sticks of butter. So, there I was, left wondering: should I add butter or oil to my granola?
And the answer...
Yes! Butter or oil are essential to making granola.

The granola I made without the butter/oil simply was not granola. It tasted like toasted Muesli. Which, if you are into that sort of thing, I have the perfect recipe for you. If, however, you want something that tastes like granola, you need to add the butter/oil.

'Why?' you ask. Well, the butter/oil component is essential to giving your granola crunch. And, I'll be honest with you, 99% of the reason I eat granola is because I adore that crunch. Muesli, even toasted Muesli, simply will not do.

So, here's how to make granola that tastes like granola.

Start by mixing together your dry ingredients: oats, nuts, coconut, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt.
In the meantime: embrace the butter. Add the butter and honey to a small sauce pan.
(I mean, come on! Just looking at this, you know whatever it is added to is going to taste better!)

Melt over low heat.
Now, add that honey-butter to your dry ingredients. And stir it up.Bake at 300 for about 40 minutes until golden brown. You'll want to stir occasionally.Remove from oven and cool completely.
Once its cool, feel free to mix in dry fruit. But, what I prefer to do is add fruit on a case by case basis to suit my mood. And since it is summer, and summer fruit is glorious, I have abandoned dry fruit all together in favor of scrumptious blueberries and peaches.

Homemade Granola (adapted from
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/4 cup roughly chopped almonds, or any mix of nuts you like
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon (slightly heaping)
a dash of salt
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons honey
1 cup dried fruit (optional)

Preheat oven to 310. Mix together oats, nuts, coconut, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Meanwhile, in a sauce pan over low heat, melt the butter with the honey. Pour over oat mixture and toss well. Spread on a baking sheet. Bake for 30-35 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. If using dried fruit, mix in once granola has cooled.

Store in an air-tight container.

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