Saturday, March 15, 2008

Homemade Granola

After reading an article over at Salon about how cereal is made, we swore off that particular breakfast food. Instead, I've tried to prepare a fresh batch of homemade granola weekly to have around. We love to eat it with milk, over yogurt or with fresh fruit. It is so easy to make and so much fun to customize, I really don't know why I've never made it before now.

Standard Granola Recipe (this makes about 12 cups)

6 cups regular oats (not quick or instant)
1/4 cup wheat germ (optional but I find it makes the granola more clumpy, which I like)
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter (if you use salted butter, don't add the above salt)
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 cup maple syrup (some recipes call for honey instead of maple syrup which also works, but I have found that we like maple syrup better)
1 cup nuts (use any kind you want but, being Southern, I'm partial to pecans)
1 cup dried fruit (some various dried fruits I've used before: cranberries, blueberries, cherries, bananas)

Preheat oven to 325. Mix the oats, wheat germ, cinnamon, salt and nuts together in large bowl. In small bowl melt butter, add the brown sugar and whisk, then whisk in the maple syrup. Add the syrup mix to the oats, stirring until everything is coated.

Prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper (you can omit the parchment paper and just butter the pans, but I find doing that requires you to stir the granola more while it is cooking, leading to less clumpy granola). Spread the granola out over the 2 baking sheets. After that, I use my fingers to squeeze the granola into loose clumps. Bake for 30-40 minutes, stirring only occasionally to keep it from burning.

Remove from oven. The granola may still seem damp when you take it out, but after cooling it will become crunchy. Once it cools, add in the dried fruit. Store in an airtight container and enjoy!