Since T has come along, I spend significantly less time in the kitchen. The elaborate, time-consuming recipes requiring a fully sentient being to execute have taken a backseat. In fact, I have a roster of quick recipes I keep on my mobile phone that I keep returning to. Some of them are just notes or lists of ingredients that help remind me of what I usually put into a dish; others are full recipes replete with my tweaks and adaptations. Having them always on hand makes it easier for me to throw something together when my head is stuck in a cloud of sleep deprivation. This granola recipe based on Molly’s adaptation of Nekisia Davis’ is one of them.
When I tasted this granola for the first time, I seriously wondered why anyone would ever go the store-bought route. It was a gustatory epiphany. I loved that it was subtly sweet and boldly salty at the same time. The freshly toasted nuts, seeds and rolled oats had a delightfully crisp quality to them. Chewing on them was akin to shattering the delicate pane of caramelised sugar that sits atop a perfectly made creme brulee. I proceeded to try a number of other granola recipes highly rated by fellow food bloggers, but found myself returning to this one time and again.
I call it a master recipe because I’ve found it to be infinitely adaptable. Having said that, I’ve also come to realise that certain key components should be kept constant in order to make it the granola that CH, my parents and in-laws, friends and neighbours have come to enjoy. The pumpkin and sunflower seeds give it a lightness and crunch that rolled oats on their own fail to deliver. The holy trinity of brown sugar, maple syrup and olive oil give it complexity of flavour as well as its characteristic veneer of toasted crispness. But I must confess that of late, I have been veering towards coconut oil, which remains stable when heated (unlike olive oil); is a healthy option; and results in a brighter, cleaner tasting granola. O, and the salt. It is an essential counterpoint that adds a kiss of allure to the granola’s otherwise wholesome sweetness.
Much of the rest of the blend, however, depends on what we happen to have in the pantry. In this instance, I have used macadamias and cashews, CH’s favourite nuts, as well as raisins and chia seeds (I must clarify that the image above, incidentally shot with my mobile phone, does show the first batch I made using walnuts and pecans). I’ve also paired pecans with dried blueberries; macadamias and pistachios with goji berries; almonds and walnuts with dried cranberries. The options abound. Eyeballing the quantities for these variables haven’t seemed to compromise the finished product. Coconut chips make an appearance when they complement the overall combination of ingredients. On occasion, I’ve added puffed spelt or rice. In place of brown sugar, I’ve used vanilla palm sugar. Sometimes I use vanilla fleur de sel instead of kosher salt and add an additional teaspoon of vanilla bean crush. Just a couple of days ago I added a note to myself to make a batch inspired by this utterly feminine combination of rose petals and honey.
The other thing I’ve tweaked is the amount of maple syrup used in the recipe. And that’s simply because the organic maple syrup I use seems to be a lot more liquid, leaving the finished granola less crisp than I would like when I adhere to the original quantity. I’m so fond of this granola that I’ve even taken to presenting it as a hostess gift. It’s especially fun to make because T loves stirring the mix before it goes into the oven. This recipe has converted me into a total homemade granola evangelist. I urge you to make your own!
Granola Master Recipe
Adapted from Molly’s recipe. The ingredients listed in red can be changed or adjusted to suit your preferences.
Makes about 1kg
300g (3 cups) rolled oats (or equal parts rolled barley/rolled spelt and rolled oats)
125g (1 cup) raw pumpkin seeds
130g (1 cup) sunflower seeds
50g (1 cup) unsweetened coconut chips (optional)
125g raw macadamias or other nut of your choice
90g raw cashews or other nut of your choice
85g (packed ½ cup) light brown sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
120ml (1/2 cup) maple syrup, Grade B
120ml (1/2 cup) olive oil or coconut oil
75g (about ½ cup) raisins (optional)
2 tbs chia seeds (optional)
Preheat the oven to 150° Celsius using the convection/fan setting. Line a rimmed half sheet pan with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine the oats, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, coconut chips, macadamias, cashews, light brown sugar, and salt. Stir to mix. Add the olive oil and maple syrup, and stir until well combined. Spread the mixture in an even layer on the prepared sheet pan. Bake, stirring every 15 minutes, until the granola is golden brown and toasted, about 55 minutes.
Place on a rack to cool completely. Stir in raisins and chia seeds. Store in an airtight container.