A lot of people took up bread baking during the covid pandemic, but my culinary deep dive was actually into granola, seeing how I was already a sourdough bread baker. With lockdowns and remote school, much more breakfast was being consumed inside my house, and granola with yogurt somehow became the top breakfast and late night snack choice for almost everyone in my family. Even these days, with two of my kids away at college, I still make a two-quart batch of granola every week, and now that I have the Mockbake Flake Lovers Flaker, I’ve been exploring using other grains along with rolled oats in my base recipe.
I want to give a big nod to the recipe that inspired mine: Cookie and Kate: Healthy Granola Recipe. I’ve been making that recipe less sweet and oily over time by adding more of all the other ingredients but not changing the maple syrup and oil amounts. My family’s taste buds have adjusted to crave a barely sweet granola. Presently, I use 6 cups of rolled/flaked oats instead of the original 4 cups. (The recipe below is given in weights and volumes.)
Oats, Sprouted Rye Berries, and Other Grains
This granola recipe calls for rolled or flaked oats paired with flaked sprouted rye berries, but you absolutely can use only rolled oats or try whatever other grain strikes your fancy e.g. buckwheat. If you have a flaker, you can flake most grains and seeds; just avoiding large legumes or very oily nuts that won’t pass through.
For hard grains, such as rye and most wheat, follow the instructions with your flaker to pre-bag the berries for at least a few hours with a few drops of water. This will result in a better flake.
I tend to skip the spices in my granola, but a teaspoon of ground cinnamon along with the pinch of salt in the oat mixture can boost the granola’s flavor and make it quite aromatic.
Sweetener and Fat
This recipe calls for 1/2 cup of sweetener and a 1/2 cup of oil. Maple syrup and honey are the two sweeteners I use most often. Honey can be a bit unwieldly to stir, but if you measure your honey into a microwave safe container, you can heat it a bit so it’s thinner.
If you happen to make candied orange peel and have leftover sugar syrup, that is a neat sweetener to use as well.
Light olive oil and avocado oil are the fats I favor. Butter is an option as well, but comes through a little more desserty.
Nuts go into the granola about halfway through baking to prevent them from burning. I like to include at least one type of nut. Pecans, walnuts, and cashews are easy favorites in the nut department and you can buy them already in small “pieces.” When I use large or whole nuts (almonds), I smash them into smaller pieces by putting them in a bag and tapping them with a meat mallet. Chopping on a cutting board works as well. Note that pistachios are tasty but burn easily, so if you want to use them, add them after the bake with the dried fruit. Cashews are less prone to burning than pistachios, but you still need to keep an eye on them.
Seeds and Coconut Flakes
Like nuts, seeds and coconut flakes go into the granola about halfway through baking so they get toasted but not burned. Some options include pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, and chia seeds. My favorite is coarsely ground flax seeds. I like the texture and their high ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 oils. You can pulse whole flax seeds in a spice grinder or pass them through the Mockbake Flaker twice. Chia seeds are also tasty and rich in omega-3s.
Raisins, currants, dried cranberries, chopped dried dates, apricots, and figs are all delicious options in granola. They should be added at the end of the bake because they shrivel up and burn when added earlier, especially the smaller fruit/pieces. I usually skip the dried fruit and I buy frozen berries instead. I microwave about 1/2 cup of frozen berries in my breakfast bowl for a minute to defrost them, then add plain yogurt and granola on top–maybe a sliced banana too.
This granola will set in chunks if you don’t stir it at any point in the baking process and you also let it cool before breaking it up and storing it. However, there isn’t much sweetener to hold it together, so it does have a looser texture than most storebought granola. Of note, my granola tends to be more chunky when I use flaked oats rather than rolled. Even when only a portion of the grains are flaked, the exposed starches seem to bind the granola better.
I recommend storing the granola in a jar at room temperature. A plastic container or bag is fine too. I find that the granola is freshest within a couple weeks of making it.
As for the ingredients, I store all my seeds and nuts in the freezer to extend their shelf life, and my whole grains and rolled oats are in sealed containers at room temperature.