Granola is one thing that I love to make at home, and pretty much refuse to buy in store. Why? When you make it at home, 1) you know exactly what’s in it, and 2) you realize what a price-gauge the store-bought stuff really is.
My problem for awhile though, was getting granola into clusters. I couldn’t figure out how to make granola clusters stick together. At first when making it at home, I’d end up with a bunch of tiny, crunchy oatmeal flakes … which tasted good, but were nothing like the chunky, delicious stuff you can buy in stores.
I’ve now found several recipes/techniques to end up with clustery granola (use egg whites, make a wetter mixture – like with pumpkin puree – and squeeze the granola into clumps prior to baking …) but recently made easily the best batch ever. The best secret for clustery granola in my book? Nut butter.
Adapted from Pinch of Yum
Ingredients (you can pretty much eyeball these)
- 3 1/2 c rolled oats
- 1-1 1/2 c nuts (whatever you have on hand)
- 3/4 c whole wheat flour
- 1 1/2 t baking powder
- 1/2-1 t salt (depending on how salty your nut butter is)
- Spices: Cinnamon, cardamom, and/or nutmeg to taste (probably no more than 1 1/2 t total; I just eyeball it)
- 3/4 c nut butter (again, whatever you have on hand should be fine)
- 1 mashed banana (over-ripe is best)
- 1/2-2/3 c maple syrup
- Depending on how sweet you want it, and what kind of nut butter you use, play around with this. Like if you have standard peanut butter, I’d go lighter on the syrup; if you have natural/unsweetened nut butter you may want to use more.
- You could probably use honey if you prefer. (I’ll update if we try that, but my aunts just gave me a quart of homemade maple syrup from their backyards, so we have it in abundance.)
- 2 t vanilla extract OR 1 t each vanilla and almond extracts (<– I kind of like the combo, but use what you’ve got)
- ¼ c milk or milk substitute of your choice (again, if this is sweetened, keep that in mind when measuring your maple syrup)
How to make homemade granola clusters
- Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.
- Line a large baking sheet or jelly roll pan with parchment paper or a silpat.
- Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl.
- Whisk the wet ingredients together in another bowl.
- Combine the dry and wet mixtures together in the bigger of the two bowls.
- Pour the granola mixture onto your prepared baking sheet and spread it out as evenly as you can.
- Bake until done. Ours takes about an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes. Every 15 minutes or so, take it out and turn/stir the granola. You should have clumps of varying sizes by the end. After about 30-45 minutes, start testing it for done-ness. You want it to be slightly darker than when it went in, and crisp. We try to take it out right when it’s stopped being moist at all when taste-tested (about one hour and 15 minutes), but if you prefer it a little chewy on the inside, take it out sooner. It’s your granola. And that’s part of the beauty of cooking at home.
- Let the granola cool, then store in whatever containers you have on hand. This keeps for a few weeks sealed at room temp, longer the in fridge, and even longer in the freezer. (Use a zip-top freezer bag if you’re going to freeze it, to keep the air out.)
The resulting granola is crunchy and clustery, and an ideal blend of salty-sweet. I loved this mixed into yogurt with blueberries and bananas, and it also makes a yummy snack all on its own.