There are few things I love to bake more than granola. The process is a bit of a pantry raid, tossing together a few of the usual suspects – along with any desirable add-ins – to create crunchy clusters of flavoured oats that can be snacked on any point in the day. It tastes just as delicious swooped on to your morning smoothie bowl, as it does crumbled over a bowl of ice cream at night!
The art of baking the very best granola relies on calibrating the right ratio of the main elements (rolled oats, nuts, oil, liquid sweetener and salt), as well as cleverly adding in flavours which lend a nuanced complexity. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll discover that you can create just about any combination that your imagination allows.
Here are a few tips for baking the very best granola, along with a recipe for cranberry nut granola to get you started!
Tips for Baking The Best Granola
- Old-fashioned rolled oats: your choice of oats makes a difference in both texture and cooking time. If you can, go for good old-fashioned rolled oats over quick-cooking oats every time!
- Use the right kind of fat: fat – specifically a cooking oil – is essential for moistening the granola. Olive oil is an excellent choice for its toasty touch, but melted coconut oil always works well too!
- Subtle sweetness: your choice of liquid sweetener is instrumental in adding a natural sweetness nuanced with complex notes. Honey, maple syrup and even jaggery syrup can be used interchangeably.
- Add-ins: chopped nuts of choice, desiccated coconut, flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, cranberries and dried fruits add flavour and crunch. If adding dried cranberries or dried fruits, be sure to stir them in at the end (after the granola is removed from the oven), as they can dry out further whilst baking.
- Always prep your baking tray: parchment paper is essential in ensuring that the sweetener binds the oats whilst baking, instead of sticking to the pan.
- Uniform baking: pour the granola across the baking tray such that the tray is relatively crowded (this helps the oats stick together and form those craveable clusters!). However, make sure that the granola isn’t too overcrowded (which could lead to uneven baking). Press the granola onto the baking tray with a rubber spatula or back of a spoon, such that they bake in an even layer.
- Let the granola cool down completely: much like when you bake cookies, your granola will continue to firm up and crispen when you remove it from the oven, so be sure to remove the granola when it has started to turn golden-brown.
Cranberry Nut Granola
- 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1 – 1½ cup nuts of choice, chopped in half (I throw in walnuts and almonds)
- ½ cup desiccated/ shredded coconut (optional)
- ½ – 1 cup seeds of choice, such as flaxseed, pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds (optional)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- pinch of sea salt
- ½ cup olive oil (or melted coconut oil)
- ½ cup maple syrup or liquid jaggery (honey is not recommended as it turns toxic on heating)
- ¾ – 1 cup dried cranberries
- Preheat oven to 1650C and line your baking tray with parchment paper.
- Toss together the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl (oats, desiccated coconut, nuts, seeds, sea salt and cinnamon).
- Next, add in the olive oil, liquid sweetener (honey or maple syrup) and vanilla extract to the bowl. Mix everything together well. The oats, nuts and seeds should be evenly (albeit lightly) coated with the sticky wet ingredients.
- Pour out the granola into your prepped baking tray, spreading it out such that it fills the entire sheet. Press down with the back of a spoon/ rubber spatula to ensure the granola bakes in an even layer.
- Bake the granola until golden brown (about 25 – 35 minutes depending on your oven), removing the baking tray from the oven every ten minutes or so to give the granola a quick stir. Rotate the tray before popping it back in the oven (this also helps ensure that the granola bakes evenly).
- Place the baking tray on a wire rack and let the granola cool completely (it will crisp up even more as it cools, developing a crunchier consistency). Stir in the dried cranberries and store the granola in an an air tight container.
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