I think of granola the same way I think of grocery store lemonade, mint n' chip ice cream and guacamole: there is absolutely no comparison to the real deal. It's not a matter of food snobbery or being an OMGfoodie (store bought hummus rocks my life), but the fact that if you give your friend a sample of homemade vs. store bought, the taste, flavor and quality of homemade would be instantaneously recognized.
My little granola experiment started a few months ago when a client requested a weekly batch that had no refined sugar, dairy, gluten and other random restrictions (use gluten-free oats if there's an allergy). While I'm still continuing to experiment with different techniques (soaking) and ingredients (oat groats), this is a batch I recently made for myself and really love. Vegans can omit the egg and take note right below.
About them clumps:
For my client, I actually make a vegan version: no egg white like in this recipe, so to still achieve clumpiness, I up the maple to 1 1/4 cups and reduce by half by stovetop until it's nice and thick–which acts as the glue. As shown below, when you spread everything on the sheet tray, pack it down with your spatula. Then, the real trick is to let everything cool completely before breaking into pieces. It will fall apart if you try to touch it when still warm.
The criteria I set for my own granola is:
1. Not too sweet–I don't like to start my morning with a big blood sugar spike or I'll crave sweets for the rest of the day. You can always add more maple to your bowl.
2. Clumpy– Right?!
3. Interesting add-ins–I used freeze dried strawberries for this batch, which is one of the only good culinary uses I can see freeze dried fruit has. Add-in possibilities are endless. Some of my favorites are: thick unsweetened coconut flakes, dried mission figs (sliced into smaller pieces), freeze dried blueberries, sliced almonds, cocoa powder.
Clumpy Maple Strawberry Granola
INGREDIENTS: (makes about 1.5 quarts)
- 4 cups rolled oats
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- pinch of kosher salt
- 1 egg white
- 1.2 ounces freeze dried strawberries (or other fruit)
–Preheat the oven to 325 F.
–In a large bowl, mix the oats, olive oil, maple syrup, cinnamon and salt until evenly incorporated. Mix in the egg white.
–On a half sheet tray, lined with parchment, spread everything into an even layer and use your rubber spatula to pack everything down.
–Bake at 325 for 30-35 minutes until slightly golden and the bottom is a solid golden brown.
–This is important: wait until completely cool to break into pieces. Add the freeze dried strawberries and store.
–Use gluten free oats if there’s a gluten allergy
–If vegan, omit the egg. Up the maple to 1.25 cups and reduce by half on the stove, over low heat.
–Freeze dried fruit is available at Whole Foods and Trader Joe's.
–Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 weeks.