Granola is one of the more simplistic baking endeavors. Yet, there are several granola recipes which have reached national notoriety. Ironically, the creators of these recipes are on the opposite ends of the country.
The first granola recipe from Eleven Madison restaurant in New York City, my adopted hometown. Yes, at the end of the 15 course, $295 per head prix-fixe dinner, you are presented with a mason jar of the house granola. It is an unexpected and lovely touch. You ration the hell out of that granola because it is probably the best you’ve ever had. And, you know you won’t be getting more anytime soon. Or ever.
The second recipe is from Marge Granola in Seattle, where my sister and I ran a virtual underground granola factory. Speaking of said sister, on this day, a few years before I hit the scene, my sister was born. Beyond being uber-capable, wildly intelligent, grace under pressure and having the heart of all hearts, she is a gift to our family and her whole community. And —she was my first kitchen comrade.
Stina, as she is known to family, took on culinary challenges in a fearless and utter nonchalant way. When she wasn’t making a flawless sixteen layer cake or serving as the teenage catering manager for our parents’ first major milestone anniversary party, there was granola. It seemed we were always in the kitchen churning out granola. As soon as it was cool enough, we would voraciously dig into the warm, chewy clumps by the handful. Then, oddly, with distended stomachs, we would go running. We were both on the cross-country team. Apparently our training ethic was better than our sense of timing and planning.
So, today is a very special day, worthy of a gift to anyone reading this post. In honor of Stina’s birthday, I did indeed make both of these famous granola recipes -and you can too. Enjoy the recipes in the links below! And if you make the Eleven Madison recipe, you save yourself $295!
I’m a big fan of both of these recipes. But, while granola is a handy pantry staple item, it’s also a convenient way to clean out the pantry (or freezer). Select whatever odds and ends need to be used and will toast up nicely. Luckily, all you need is some basic ratios and tips to make the perfect custom granola on-demand.
Following are some guidelines, adapted from Epicurious.com. The key is a 6:1 ratio of dry to wet ingredients. It doesn’t matter what unit of measure you use. For example, if you used 6 cups total of dry ingredients you would use 1 cup total of wet ingredients.
NO RECIPE GRANOLA
- Rimmed half-sheet pan or baking sheet
- Parchment paper
- Rubber spatula
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Mixing bowls
- 6 Parts Dry Ingredients: Nuts, Seeds, Other Combined
- For a variety of texture and flavor, shoot for 4 different dry ingredients.
- Half of the dry ingredients should be rolled oats or steel cut oats. A combination of the two creates a nice variety of texture and a very chewy granola. Do not use quick-cooking oats.
- The other half of the dry ingredients should be roughly equal amounts of nuts, seeds and coconut flakes or dried fruits. Consider these options:
- Nuts: chopped walnuts, pecans or cashews
- Seeds: pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, flax seeds
- Other: dried fruit, puffed millet, coconut flakes, cacao nibs
- Important! Add any already toasted items, as well as dried fruit, after baking.
- 1 Part Wet Ingredients: Oil and Sweetener Combined (+ Vanilla)
- Oil Quantity: The oil should be about half of the wet volume.
- Oil Type: Warmed (liquid) coconut oil brings a wonderful aroma and medium-chain fatty acids to the granola. Extra virgin olive oil brings a savory character and depth of flavor as well as heart-healthy polyphenols. Neutral oils, such as grape seed, canola, or sunflower seed oil can also be used.
- Sweetener Quantity: Using the sweetener as about half of the total wet volume will provide an ‘adult-sweetness’. If making for kids, you may want your sweetener to be more than half the liquid volume.
- Sweetener Type: Use whatever sweetener which suits you. Melt brown sugar and maple syrup together for added complexity. But, make your life easy by selecting one that is already in liquid form, such as honey, maple syrup, or brown rice syrup.
- Vanilla Extract: If using vanilla or other extracts, add to the liquid mixture. Generally, 1 teaspoon for a 3 or 4 cup batch of granola is about right.
- Other Seasonings
- Spices: Cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg all work well. Use your imagination.
- Sea Salt; Don’t be timid with the sea salt. It really enhances all the flavors. Most recipes call for 1-2 teaspoon sea salt per 3-5 cups of granola .
- Pre-heat oven to 300°F. Many granola recipes use a 350°F oven. But, a lower temperature is more forgiving when working with small ingredients, such as sesame seeds or shredded coconut, which may over-brown if unattended.
- Blend the dry ingredients together well. Then, add the wet ingredients, stirring well to coat the dry ingredients, to ensure even browning.
- Season to taste with your favorite spices and sea salt. Mix well.
- Line a rimmed baking pan with parchment paper. Spread the granola evenly onto the pan, up to a 1/2 inch layer. Avoid over-crowding the pan. Use a second baking pan, if needed, or bake in separate batches.
- Bake at 300°F, gently stirring every 15 minutes, until the granola is light brown and dry, 40 to 45 minutes. If you want granola clumps, stir less -or not at all.
- While the granola bakes, prepare any items to be added after baking (roughly chopped roasted nuts, dried fruits, etc).
- Remove the pan from the oven. Stir in dried fruits, if using. Allow to cool completely before indulging or storing. The granola will continue cooking, firm up and dry out during the cooling process
- Store the granola in an airtight container for 7 to 10 days unrefrigerated.
- 3/4 cup total of sesame, hemp or flax seeds
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1 cup steel-cut oats (or more rolled oats)
- 1/4 cup coconut flakes
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon each of cinnamon and cardamom
Have a granola tip or trick to share? Please leave a comment below!
Related: Why Are Oats An All-Star Grain?