When I tell people that I make my own granola, I usually receive one of two responses. Either I’m faced with much eye-rolling and mockery of my absurd middle-class food-obsessiveness, or an appreciative and knowing nod, accompanied by something along the lines of ‘Me too, it’s so much better than anything you can buy in the shops.’
Unfortunately, the former reaction is far more common. Those initiated in the ways of homemade granola are few and far between. In a bid to change this, I am going to convert you to its benefits.
Firstly, making your own is far healthier than buying it in the supermarket. You know how granola is stupidly delicious, really moreish, the kind of thing you eat from the bag with a spoon as a snack? It tastes a bit like flapjack, right? That’s because the supermarket versions are laden with oil and sugar. You’ll notice that those little traffic-light nutrition labels on branded granola are frequently a riot of blazoning reds and oranges. This is dessert masquerading as health food. No, having raisins in does not make it calorie-neutral. Fine if you’re only eating the three tablespoons or so the packets suggest as an average serving, but who on earth has the willpower, or the tiny appetite, to stop at three tablespoons of granola?
Secondly, making your own granola is much cheaper. Once you have the store cupboard ingredients – honey, salt, vanilla, cinnamon – and have made a batch of apple compote (I make several batches and freeze in individual portions so I have some ready to make granola whenever I want), all you need to buy is muesli base mix, which is very cheap, and the nuts and fruit. My recipe makes around 1.5 kilos of granola, and the ingredients cost around £5. Good-quality branded granola sells for up to £5 for 500g, so you’re saving a substantial amount of money.
Thirdly, when making your own granola you can do anything you like. Your breakfast bowl is your oyster. Not a fan of raisins? Don’t put them in! Really addicted to pecan nuts (who isn’t)? Throw loads in! Want to spice it up with some ground ginger or something exotic like cardamom? Go for it! Play around with your fruit and nut combinations until you’re happy and have tailored it to your own personal taste.
I should add a fourth point here: making your own granola is so much easier than you’d think. You literally just whisk a few things together in a bowl, mix in your oats, then spread it out on baking sheets and bake, stirring occasionally, before adding the fruit and nuts. It takes under an hour and will fill your house with delicious warm, spiced aromas.
The version here is a particular favourite. It features toasted flaked almonds and deliciously creamy brazil nuts, accompanied by gooey dates and tangy apricot pieces. The granola mix is spiced with cinnamon and warm vanilla. It’s delicious on its own, but I like to serve this either with some fresh berries, or with tinned grapefruit segments and their juice. I don’t eat milk or yoghurt, but if you’re a fan, I imagine it would also be delicious with either of those.
Pre-heat the oven to 160°C. In a large bowl, whisk together the apple compote, honey, vanilla, cinnamon and salt. Add the muesli base mix and stir well to combine.
Spread the mixture out onto two large baking sheets, then bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and stir well, then return to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes. Stir again, then add the nuts. Bake for 10 minutes, then stir again, and bake for a final 10 minutes (40 minutes in total, stirring every 10 and adding the nuts after 20).
Remove from the oven and leave to cool before adding the fruit. Stir well to combine, then store in an airtight jar until ready to eat.
* To make apple compote, stew peeled, cored and chopped cooking apples in a little water until they turn to mush, then mash them roughly with a fork (or use a food processor or stick blender). I usually make a big batch of this (it’s not really worth making a small amount, but you can use any leftovers as apple sauce for pork) and freeze it in 320g portions for future granola-making sessions.