Ah granola, the sustenance of hippies and tree hugging backpackers. A week and a half ago, I decided to take the plunge into the world of our long haired friends and tried to make a batch of granola. Looking up some recipes online, I was dismayed to find that most of them used a ton of cooking oil and sugar in the form of honey and maple syrup. After some more searching, I found out that it was the oil and sugar that made the granola clump together. This runs contrary to my notion of granola as a health food, so I decided to try to make my granola as healthy as possible.
I have made 3 batches of granola with varying methods, which I will explain later. An exact recipe is not necessary when making granola. You can just freestyle it and add whatever you want as long as it seems right to you. Anyways, this is how I made today's batch...
Dry Ingredients 1: Oats, Wheat Germ, Flax seed, Crushed Walnuts, Raisins, Dried Cranberries, Salt, Cinnamon
Wet Ingredients: Honey, Apple Sauce
You start by baking oats and wheat germ together in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes until they are slightly crisp. I made a relatively large batch with about 7 cups of oats and wheat germ together, so I let it sit in the oven an extra 5 minutes. Just make sure it doesn't burn.
In the meantime, mix all your wet ingredients in a bowl with the cinnamon.
Once the your tray of grains is nice and toasty, take them out and pour them into the bowl. Mix it thoroughly and add the flax seed and a bit of salt. You may add whatever other kinds of seeds you like in the granola at this point as well as sugar and spices. Add more of the wet ingredients if you think the mixture needs to clump more. Put the granola mixture into a greased pan and put it in a 325 degree oven for 30 minutes, take it out half way through and stir everything. I was making quite a bit of granola and only had one tray, so I had to bake my granola for an hour, making sure that all parts of the batch got exposed and browned.
Once everything is nicely dried and brown, take the tray out and mix in some nuts and dried fruit. I used walnuts, raisins, and dried cranberries.
And there you have it, a delicious batch of granola. The first batch I made last week produced about a pound of granola. I ate it in about 2 days.
Now, I'll talk about the differences in the wet ingredients I alluded to earlier. The first time I made granola, I used oil and honey (I didn't have maple syrup on hand) as the recipes online recommended, but I used much less of it so it would be slightly better for me. The granola turned out really well, however, there were not enough clumps. This was to be expected since I did not use that much of the oil and honey.
With the second batch of granola, I used far less oil and honey, but added some low fat blueberry yogurt. This gave the granola a bit of a twangy taste coming from the yogurt, but once again, I did not add enough wet ingredients and the granola did not clump to my satisfaction.
The third time I made granola, I took out the oil entirely and only used honey and applesauce. I used quite a bit of it and the granola did clump well. However, even after an hour of baking, the larger clumps were still soft. This may be due to the nature of cooking with applesauce or perhaps I was just making too large of a batch on too small of a tray and the pieces did not get a good chance to brown and dry out. I've read that mashed bananas work well to hold granola together. Perhaps I will try using them next time.