Tag Archives: granola

Christmas Granola (And the Story of the Great Granola Bake-off 2014)

It seems ages ago now but back in July I was interning at LongHouse in upstate New York. It might seem like an odd thing to do – take an internship unrelated to my PhD (it was all practical cooking and some blogging) only six months from potentially handing in, but I was in desperate need of a change of scene and some time away from Foucault. And so it was that I found myself in a barn kitchen, baking off trays and trays of Molly O’Neill’s granola.


Normally, I make granola in small batches – 200 or 300 grams of oats at a time. Molly requested that I convert a 50 pound bag of oats into granola. She makes it twice a year, hence the vast quantities, and it is used in the LongHouse Food Scholars programme (as a breakfast staple), for visiting guests and other students, and to give away. I, of course, happily agreed to make all the granola. How hard could it be?

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Ah. Such famous last words. It turns out, 50lb of oats makes A LOT of granola. But y’ll probably knew all that already. It took the greater part of two weeks to make all the granola. I worked initially in the barn at LongHouse. This fantastic kitchen provided large mixing bowls and plastic tubs, large pots and two ovens, so that the granola could be baked in a series of six trays at a time. Unfortunately granola is not something you can simply put in the oven and then leave to do its thing. It has to be turned and stirred so that it bakes evenly. Too little time in the oven and it will not crisp, too long and you risk burning it due to the high sugar. Fortunately, I had company from Ali, who kept my spirits up (and ran around taking various photographs, including the ones below) and we had wine…

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The first mass of granola was baked and put into a large tub. This is where it all started to go wrong of course. We couldn’t find a properly fitting lid for the tub and so we wrapped it as tight as we could in clingfilm. But then students arrived and, instead of bagging it all responsibly into individual bags that were airtight, the granola was forgotten for the long weekend. The result? A request that I bake all the granola again, because moisture had gotten in and made it damp. I was slightly devastated. Hours of my life had to be relived! Part of me wanted to cry. Another part of me wanted to refuse. A third part of me wanted to lie down on the floor and not move for several days. But I took a deep breath and got on with it.

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By this time we had had to move kitchens. Initially I baked at Molly’s – in her new ovens. I was doing okay here but then, with the darkening light, I managed to over-bake several trays. Then the organising board on the fancy ovens gave up working and had to be replaced, so I moved to a third kitchen. These new ovens were temperamental and so required a more watchful eye. But slowly slowly, after several days, all the granola was baked to the right golden colour and dry. I was so paranoid about damp granola by this stage that I checked and re-checked all the trays as they came out of the oven. And sometimes put them back in for a few minutes, you know, just in case. We then spent an afternoon filling sealable bags with granola so that it would stay dry and could be used throughout the late summer.

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After that experience, making granola for hours at a time over several weeks, I was well and truly granola-ed out. I continued to eat it – Molly’s granola is exceptionally more-ish, but I didn’t want to have to make any more for a LONG time. Finally, this week, I decided it was time to venture forth into granola again. I often need something quick and simple for breakfast, before dashing to the office. I am highly dysfunctional in the mornings. If I can work from home, I do. I tend to be more effective if I can just get up, have a coffee and sit at my desk in my pyjamas for a few hours. If I have to get dressed, eat and leave, then I need my life to be as easy and straight-forward as possible.

This granola is adapted from Nigella’s book, Feast. Feast is one of my favourites – I love the writing and the organisation and the recipes. It’s my go to book – the one that came in my suitcase when I moved over from South Africa. Nigella writes that she got the granola recipe from a place in Connecticut called The Pantry. This granola is spicy and warm, and, with the addition of cranberries, rather than raisins, reminiscent of Christmas. It’s certainly my December choice.

I only made half the quantity she describes, mainly because I don’t need that much granola at a time. I left out raisins, sunflower and sesame seeds (because I thought I’d use what I already had), and reduced the amount of sugar. Nigella mixes everything together in one bowl but I heated up the apple compote with the sugars and oil because mine was frozen.

Christmas Granola
Adapted from Nigella’s Feast
225g rolled oats
50g pumpkin seeds
10g poppyseeds
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp sea salt
80g whole almonds, roughly chopped
125g apple compote
2 tbsp golden syrup
1 tbsp honey
35g brown sugar
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
generous handfuls of dried cranberries and apricots, roughly chopped (approximately 3/4 cup of each)

Heat the oven to 160C and line the oven baking tray with baking paper.

Put all the dry ingredients, except the dried fruit, into a bowl and stir to distribute.


Place the apple compote, golden syrup, honey, brown sugar and rapeseed oil in a pan and heat until everything is emulsified.

Pour this into the dry ingredients and stir, making sure everything is evenly coated. Place the mixture onto the baking tray, distributing it evenly.


Cook for approximately 40 minutes, until the granola is evenly golden brown. Stir every 15 minutes or so. This timing will really depend on your oven. Once it’s baked to desired goldenness, remove from the oven and leave to cool completely before stirring in the fruit. Store in an airtight container.


PS. I have finally given my supervisor a copy of my thesis draft. This means *squee* that I am on the long road to actually handing in…

Chocolate Granola

It’s Food Revolution Day today! So I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon and post a recipe. Unfortunately I’m not doing anything educational with children today (apart from more thesis work, which is related to children and food education!) but I figured an easy recipe that can be made quickly and is superbly delicious sort of fits the bill. If you want to find out more about the day, head over to the Food Revolution Day website – there’s loads of information and ideas.


But now we need to talk chocolate granola.


I’m a fairly boring breakfast eater on a day to day basis. I go through stages of eating the same thing, day in, day out. Sometimes it’s cooked oats. Sometimes it’s an apple with yoghurt. Sometimes it’s a quick version of bircher muesli (basically oats soaked in milk with additions depending on my mood). If I’ve made sourdough then it’s toast. On fast days it’s normally vegetables with an egg or more cooked oats. So I decided over the recent holiday that it was time to mix things up. Summer is coming! Cooked oats is too much faff when it’s warm. And often I need to dash into the office early and need something quick to eat before I go. This granola is the answer.


The only thing is that you need to come to terms with eating chocolate for breakfast. Hard right? Molly from Orangette is a great granola eater, she posted recently that she has five granola recipes on the blog. That post led me to an older post where she writes about chocolate granola. It struck me as being brilliant and so I experimented with her original recipe – I had to take out the coconut flakes (coconut, yuck!) so I made mine with seeds instead, as that is my preferred granola combination. The result is a brilliant toasted oat/seed/almond combination with dark chocolate (and raw cacao nib) richness. It is sort of dangerous to have in your kitchen as it’s a very tempting snack and the original batch didn’t last much longer than a week. It also makes the perfect lazy day dinner, with some yoghurt. (I am also a breakfast-for-dinner eater.)

Feel free to adapt the recipe below as it pleases you. Play around with the sugar/honey/maple syrup combinations. Add or subtract seeds and nuts. It took me less than an hour from setting out the ingredients to eating breakfast, so there’s no excuse not to make your own! Happy Food Revolution Day!

Chocolate Granola
Adapted from Orangette
3 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup whole almonds, roughly chopped
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1 tbsp poppyseeds
2 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tbsp sunflower oil
3 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp set honey
1/2 cup dark chocolate (70%), roughly chopped
handful of raw cacao nibs

Preheat the oven to 170C and line a baking tray with either baking paper or some foil that you’ve lightly oiled. (I rhyme!)
In a bowl combine the oats, almonds, seeds and sugar – give everything a good stir.


In a pan, heat the sunflower oil, maple syrup and honey until the honey is loose and the whole mixture is very fluid.


Pour the liquid onto the oat mixture and stir until everything is well coated.
Distribute onto the baking tray and bake in the oven for 20 minutes, giving everything a good stir after 10. Keep an eye on the granola, you want it nicely toasted but not too dark.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.


Once cool, stir in the chocolate and cacao nibs. Eat! (With milk…) And store in an airtight container.




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Originally I made this granola when the Princess was visiting. She criticised me for making an excessive amount and then we finished it in like a week. The same happened when I made it again recently. It’s ridiculously addictive and is filling breakfast food. I don’t feel the need for lunch til at least 3pm… It’s also super easy to make and the only requirement is that you don’t forget it is in the oven (yes I did that) because the fruit gets a tad dry (in a will-break-your-teeth kind of way). Feel free to put what you like into it – I made apricot, cranberry and walnut this time but really, the choice is yours.

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Adapted from Alice Hart’s Vegetarian

300g oats

100g walnuts

100g apricots

100g cranberries

100g sunflower seeds

30g poppyseeds

100g honey

100ml sunflower oil

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Toss everything together in a large bowl. If you’re worried about the fruit burning, leave it out of the initial mix and add it onto the baking trays when you’ve got 10 minutes left. Spread the granola out over two lined baking trays and bake at 180C for 30 minutes, stirring everything and tossing it around every 10 minutes. Allow it to cool before storing in an airtight container. Eat with milk/yoghurt/as a snack.

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Granola (Crunchie) Bars

I am going back into the field tomorrow so I thought I would get organised and make some snacky-fied things that were easily transportable, wouldn’t get too bashed up in my bag, and could sustain me for long periods of time.

I also finally (finally!) got around to organising packed lunches to take with me from the kitchen – even though I plan to eat school dinners until the end of term. I figured it wouldn’t be a bad idea to take advantage of the food I’m entitled to as a tutor and I figure I can always eat sandwiches at breakfast or in the late afternoon – in that dead period between lunch and dinner when I’m running to catch a train. Not that I’ll be eating the sandwiches whilst running. Just to clarify.

And they always give crisps as part of the packed lunch so I can hoard those up for use at a later date (like when I make those cookies from Momofuku Milk Bar). Perhaps someone can explain to me the distinctly British obsession with sandwiches and crisps? I’ll admit to sometimes having sandwiches for lunch but crisps? They’re for having with sundowners and biltong. Preferably in a game park but also acceptable in front of a rugby game at 5pm. Not at lunch time and certainly not every day. It’s a culture thing I can’t quite get my head around.

But I digress. I first saw these bars on Smitten Kitchen and no, I’m not totally obsessed with that site, (okay, well maybe just a little) but she seems to always make things I want to make – like the scones or the buttermilk triple berry cake or oreos or these custards which are still on my list of things to do. Anyway, these bars seemed like the perfect breakfast on the run/in the train/eaten surreptitiously at the back of a classroom kind of food. They’re dense and chewy (for British readers, these are not flapjacks – they’re way more cooked than flapjacks and for South African readers, these are kind of like a crunchie – although I’m not sure of the rules regarding fruit and nuts in crunchies, my grandmother always made hers plain), filled with fruit and walnuts and syrup. They pack a punch of sugar, enough to get you out of bed and paying attention pretty quick. I think the oats stabilises the sugar though so you don’t collapse at 10am again. In short, good breakfast substitute. They’re also good in the afternoon, if you need to get over that dead time at 4pm.

I made mine with cranberries and sour cherries and walnuts (and used a full 3 cups worth because I wanted them packed with goodness) but you can use pretty much any combination of fruit and nuts you like. I also added maple syrup (because I have some in the cupboard and if I’m not careful it’ll still be there when I’m all handed in, gasp, and packing up, in 22 months time! Yes, I have started a count down.) but you could use golden syrup instead. I couldn’t be bothered to blend oats into flour (all that setting up of gadgetry was just too much to ask) so I made mine with wholemeal flour. This is the kind of recipe that can be adjusted to using up random ingredients in the cupboard. I’m not going to write out the version I used because it’s basically the same as the original, which you can find here. I did use the less amount of sugar though and they still came out super sweet.

 So wish me luck back in the field. I have a plan to make brownies this weekend but don’t be surprised if things go slightly awry and I disappear into a void, although I will try my best not to do so. Also, I got terribly over excited this afternoon at the arrival of Bouchon Bakery, the new book by Thomas Keller (and the bakery which turned my opinion on lemon meringue pie). A quick glance through, on undoing the book from it’s brown box and cellophane, is that it is AWESOME. I shall try to make something from it soon.