Super Chunky Granola
I bike everyday to school. It's my little bit of "me" time. What I am kidding, every moment of my day is "me" time... Anyway, I totally get in the zone on my ride: thinking about my day, singing to myself (it's almost as good as a radio!), people watching.
In my year plus of hardcore riding (I use the term hardcore loosely as the only "race" I've completed is the one where I attempt to pass the other bike commuters), I've learned a few important lessons.
1) No matter how good you think you are on a bike, if you start to get cocky, you will probably fall on your face while in a skirt in front of hundreds of people on a busy campus.
2) Stop signs are there for a reason. Cops pull over bikers too. I saw this happen yesterday and felt sooooo happy that I'm a freak about following traffic laws. My intense studying of the drivers manual when I was 15 really paid off!
3) Helmets are so cool. Every time I put on my helmet, I think to myself, "Gosh, you look so fashionable. It's super hot when you protect your head and all that". Okay, so maybe I don't say it exactly like that.
4) There is nothing like riding your bike in the rain. And I don't mean that in the positive way. You just have to look at my water-damaged $175 textbook to know how I feel about riding in the rain.
5) I have gotten my 1.5 mile commute down to 5 minutes. That's including two traffic lights. But then I get off my bike and I look (and probably smell) like I've just run a marathon. It's not that cute.
So at this point, you're probably wondering what on earth granola has to do with biking.
Well, I can tell you this.
I eat granola.
Super Chunky Granola
This is probably the BEST granola I have ever had. It has huge, sweet clusters and is loaded with toasted nuts and fruit. This Cook's Illustrated recipe calls for a 1/2 cup of oil. Yes, it is a lot, but it is the key to perfect, chunky granola. I was also a bit skeptical about the large amount of vanilla. Trust me, it works. If you don't have maple syrup on hand, you can substitute honey, but the granola will then have a distinct honey flavor.
Another important note, don't toss the granola around in the pan when you rotate it in the oven. Wait until the granola has cooled to break it up. This is the key to big chunks.
- 1/3 cup maple syrup (or honey, but use maple if you are making it vegan!)
- 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon - I added a bit more because I love cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 5 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (do NOT use quick oats) - If making gluten-free look for certified gluten-free oats
- 2 cup raw almonds (slivered, sliced, or chopped coarsely)
- 2 cup raisins or other dried fruit, chopped - I used raisins, cranberries, and cherries
1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 325°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet or jelly roll pan with parchment paper or foil.
2. Whisk the maple syrup, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk in the oil. Fold the oats and almonds in until they are thoroughly coated.
3. Transfer the oat mixture to the baking sheet and spread into an even layer. Using a stiff metal spatula (or your hand, covered in waxed paper) compress the mixture until very compact.
4. Bake until lightly browned, 40 to 45 minutes, rotating pan once halfway through baking. Do not move granola around in the pan, this is the key to the big chunks! Remove pan from oven and cool on a wire rack to room temperature, about an hour. Break apart the cooled granola into pieces of desired size. Stir in dried fruit. Granola can be stored in an airtight container up to 4 weeks. Yields approximately 9 cups.
Recipe from Cook's Country