How do you eat your granola? Do you grab it by the handful for an afternoon snack? Do you use it as a topping for your yogurt? Do you add milk and eat it as cereal? Or, do you do something a little crazier with it, like use it as a pancake topping or in a salad? No matter how you eat it, you’ll most certainly enjoy your experience more if you use homemade granola. The supermarkets have tons of granola options, but I’ve yet to find a brand I like more than the granolas I’ve made at home. The boxed or bagged store versions always seem very tasteless and stale to me. The dried fruit is especially disappointing. Little hard pellets trying to pass as raisins – yuck. Most of them area also pretty expensive.
Between my Mom and I, we’ve probably tried over ten different granola recipes the past couple of years. And yes, they have all beat out the store brands. Yet something was missing. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but each recipe would fall short of a perfect score. I hadn’t given it much thought until my eureka moment while reading the latest Cook’s Illustrated magazine. Where were the clusters? Those imperfect chunks of oats and nuts that give extra resistance to your milk and yogurt and provide textural interest. Somehow, I’d forgotten the excitement of finding a large cluster on your spoon and rummaging through the cereal box in search of a mammoth chunk. Terrible, I know.
Thank you CI for both the reminder, and providing the best granola technique / recipe to date.
Can’t have a pecan-orange granola without pecans and orange (zest)
Intensely flavored wet ingredients
The CI science editor says “fat is essential for a substantial crisp texture versus a parched, delicate one”. So I wouldn’t omit the oil.
It even looks good pre-baked
One major key to getting clusters – pack it down tightly
Bake until golden. No stirring :)
Then break up and mix in the dried cranberries. (I used a spatula and my fingers for this task.)
The husband loves to bother when I’m taking food pics.
Pecan-Orange Granola with Dried Cranberries – Cook’s Illustrated, March & April 2012 (number 115)
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 tbp. finely grated orange zest
- 4 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 5 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- 2 cups (10 oz.) pecans, coarsely chopped
- 2 cups dried cranberries
Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 325°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Whisk maple syrup, brown sugar, orange zest, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk in the oil. Fold in the oats and pecans until thoroughly coated. Transfer the oat mixture to the prepared baking sheet and spread in an even layer (about 3/8″ thick). Using a stiff spatula, compress the oat mixture until it’s very compact. Bake until lightly browned, 40 to 45 min., rotating the pan once halfway through baking. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack to room temperature, about 1 hr. Break the cooled granola into pieces of desired size. Stir in the cranberries.
Granola can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
Yield – 9 cups
I eat my granola with milk. :)