Growing up, I never ate granola. Honestly, I had never tried granola until I moved to Texas in high school. Many people assumed it was all I ate because of my supersonic metabolism. In reality, I thought packaged granola tasted like tree bark.
One of my philosophies about food is I eat what I enjoy, not necessarily what’s healthy, just what tastes good. But being an environmental science student in college tested the bounds of my philosophy. For instance, while other departments chomped on Cheetos and Doritos, my department swapped yogurt clusters and granola. So being a polite non-conformist, I graciously yet hesitantly accepted any granola offered to me during class from my fellow classmates.
“Oh, so good,” I fibbed. I secretly contemplated spitting the granola out into the tiny black wastebasket in the corner of the room. I’ve never tasted mulch before, but I imagine it tastes like whatever I had just put in my mouth. I learned quickly though. When I noticed someone pulling out a dingy bag of granola, I quickly whipped out a box from my bag and said, “Prune, anyone?” No one ever asked me to try their granola again.
Recently, I started craving something nutty, spicy and quick to prepare in the mornings. So, I ventured into the misrepresented world of granola and discovered homemade granola. I stumbled upon this recipe adapted by Nigella Lawson and Molly Wizenburg, which I adapted once again to suit my palate. I’m a granola conformist and guess what? It tastes good.
Amber Ryder-Wilson was born into a Cajun family in which making roux became a rite of passage. She is a freelance writer and the author, recipe developer and photographer for the Southern memoir-style blog www.fortheloveofthesouth.com
Makes 10 cups
Note: You can substitute the corn syrup for golden syrup (on the sugar aisle), but if you do, decrease the amount of brown sugar to ¾ a cup. Also, for the applesauce, I used 2 natural applesauce pouches that you would put in a kid’s lunchbox. It’s the perfect amount for this recipe! One more thing, if you want to add dried fruit to the granola, you definitely can, just wait until the granola has come out of the oven then add in the dried fruit (I used dried cranberries the day I took these photos. I also love golden raisins!)
5 cups of rolled oats
2-3 cups of slivered almonds or pecan halves (or a mixture of both)
1 cup of hulled raw sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons of sesame seeds
1 cup of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon of ground ginger
1 teaspoon of salt
¾ cup of unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup of corn syrup
¼ cup of honey
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
Make sure oven racks are in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
In a large bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients. Mix well. In a small bowl, whisk all of the wet ingredients together. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir well.
Spread the mixture evenly between 2-rimmed baking sheets. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until evenly golden brown. Set a timer to go off every 10 minutes while the granola is baking to rotate the baking sheets and stir the granola (I set 2 timers, one for 35-40 minutes and another for 10 minute intervals to help me keep track of the timing!) Whenever the granola is golden, take the baking pans out of the oven and stir the granola well so that the granola doesn’t cool in one large, solid sheet. The granola will seem soft when it comes out of the oven, but it crisps as it cools.
Place the cooled granola into a large Ziploc plastic bag or another airtight container, and store in the fridge until ready to consume!