Best Granola Ever: Recipe Below
Capability:Mom and I are doing a series of 12 posts jointly for the 12 Days of Shopping; one a day starting today for 12 days in a row. She’ll do half of each post, and I’ll do the other. We selected those requisite gift categories that can be tough to figure out (in-laws, tutors, etc), and wracked our brains for several hours at our coffee shop. I hope this helps you in your holiday scramble to the finish!
Here are the posts we are doing for …
The 12 Days of Shopping
Dec 8: Sanitation Engineers, Mail Carriers, Hairdresser, Delivery People, Babysitter, Cleaning People, Dog Walker/Dog Trainer, etc. (a.k.a. who else did I forget?) and Emily Post’s Etiquette on this subject.
Andy’s Fairfield Granola from Nigella Lawson’s Feast
The binding on my Feast cookbook is cracked and the pages are falling out. And the page with this recipe is covered in food stains; I think it’s the safflower oil mixed with brown rice syrup. Nigella raves about this granola which she discovered at a bookstore on an U.S. book tour. It is really good. I have made it and given it out as gifts.
True story: I usually give this to teachers at random times as a gift for no particular occasion. My kids’ Kindergarten teacher is usually on the list even during the years that we don’t have her, but sometimes we run out. A neighbor gets it instead or I need it for a hostess gift. So one day she tells me that she is in the teacher’s lounge and recognizes the granola that my middle kid’s 2nd grade teacher was eating and said, “Is a gift from Pragmatic Mom? I love that granola. Can I have a handful?” It’s easy to recognize too!
People who don’t like granola have told me that they have consumed it all in one sitting. The secret is that it is coated with sweet stuff (applesauce, brown rice syrup, brown sugar and honey) that makes every piece sweet and crunchy, as well as savory from the almonds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and salt. I think the crunchiness is the key.
As Nigella says in her cookbook, the recipe looks a little daunting because of the lengthy list of ingredients, but it’s more of a shopping trip than a complicated recipe. It’s not that difficult. You can double it and bake in two batches to make a lot of gifts. Also, you can customize. My oldest asked for sesame seeds to be omitted. I have also added grated coconut instead of sesame seeds which turned out well. I usually use dried, sweetened cranberries or dried apricots diced finely instead of raisins.
As for presentation, I’m not good at that but Capability:Mom recommends these jars at Target (3 for $10) and she has cello bags on her blog post. Presentation is key! I have given the granola in take-out containers — Chinese take out containers are cute and they come in fun colors at party stores. I have also given jars like these; the screw top is perfect for storing the granola as you want an air tight container. My Mom Friend gave this to teachers last year in the cello bags tied with pretty ribbon. Or you can stick a label you print from your computer!
And here’s a fun fact according to The Center for Media Research: 59% of Americans have plans to prepare alternative gifts, including homemade gifts and donations of time or money to charities. ’Tis the season, it seems, to give homemade gifts from the heart!
- 4 1/2 cups rolled oats
- 1 cup sunflower seed
- 3/4 cup sesame seed
- 3/4 cup applesauce
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ginger, [My secret ingredient: a quarter teaspoon of ground cardamom]
- 1/3 cup brown rice syrup or 1/3 cup rice malt syrup or 1/3 cup golden syrup
- 1/4 cup honey
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar
- 2 cups whole almonds
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
- 2 cups raisins
- Mix everything except the raisins together very well in a large mixing bowl. I use a couple of curved, rigid spatulas; normally, I’d be happy to use my hands, but here it just leaves you covered with everything. *Note that when I, Pragmatic Mom, double the recipe, no mixing bowl I own is big enough so I use a large stockpot.
- Spread this mixture out on two baking tins (the sort that come with ovens, and are about the width of a rack) and bake in a 350 degree oven, turning over about halfway through baking and re-distributing the granola evenly during the baking process. The object is to get it evenly golden without toasting too much in any one place. This should take anything from about 40 minutes. I use a gas oven, which doesn’t brown as fast as an electric one, so often leave it in for up to an hour.
- Once it’s baked, allow to cool and mix together with the raisins. Store airtight.
- Substitute sesame seeds for shredded coconut and replace the raisins with diced apricots and dried cranberries for a Caribbean version.
- Substitute almonds for a different nut combination. Try half almonds and half pistachios or any nut combination of your favorites.
- Do a mix of dried fruit. Try raisins, sultanas and cranberries.
- Change Measurements:
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