Am I alone in my love-hate relationship with granola? I have always loved the taste and the crunchy texture, especially when paired with yogurt, but I have always hated that most granola out there contains a stupendous amount of sugar as well as all sorts of scary ingredients whose names I can't even pronounce. So, a long time ago, I simply stopped buying and eating granola.. Naturally, before swearing it off entirely, I had tried making my own granola once, but it just wasn't the same. The mix never clumped and the taste was quite bland. The end result was that I had to force feed myself the entire ten-cup batch until it was done. Needless to say, I didn't even consider making granola an option after that. At least not until my copy of the Smitten Kitchen cookbook arrived in the mail a few weeks ago.
Deb Perelman's book doesn't disappoint. If you have been reading her site for years, as I have, you will find that the photos and the text of the book are comfortingly familiar. And, if the recipes I have already tried are any indication, you will also find that the quality of the recipes in the book meet the same high standard as the ones featured on her site. And, what is my favorite recipe so far? Well, that would have to be the one for big cluster maple granola. You see, this recipe does something that the other granola recipe tried didn't: it clumps. It might be something simple, but it makes all the difference in the world. This recipe is also not as sweet as most granola recipes and it uses maple as its sweetener so it has that wonderfully luxurious maple taste that evokes fond memories of Canadian winters for me. So, as you might have guessed, this is one recipe that I will be making over and over again. In fact, it is so good, that I might just include it in my Christmas gift baskets.
Yield: About 6 1/2 cups
Slightly Adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup chopped almonds
2/3 cup chopped pecans
2 tbsps olive oil
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup Grade B maple syrup
1 large egg white
1 1/2 chopped dates (or other dried fruit)
- Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees and line one large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients.
- In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil and maple syrup. Pour mixture over dry ingredients and toss them together until the wet ingredients are evenly distributed among the dry mixture.
- In that same small bowl, whisk an egg white until it is foamy. Pour over ingredients and toss until you are certain that the egg white is evenly distributed. This is really important because the egg white will help the granola cluster together.
- Spread granola evenly over parchment paper.
- Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. About halfway through, remove baking sheet from the oven and, using a spatula, flip the granola gently. It will still be loose at this point so don't worry if you don't see any large granola clusters. Before putting it back in the oven, I pressed the granola against the baking sheet with the back of the spatula to help it stick together. Place back in oven until it has finished baking. When it is done, it will appear dry and the edges will have browned nicely. At this point, remove it from the oven and let it cool completely so that the clusters set before you remove it from the baking sheet. After cooling, mine looked like a large granola bar with some loose pieces and so I simply broke it apart and placed it into a storage container along with the dates.