Homemade granola is good, very good. It's much better than the store-bought varieties. Fresh from the oven, warm, and made with your favorite ingredients, it makes a great snack or breakfast cereal. We love it as trail mix too.
But it's hard to get it to clump up as it should. Granola should have clumps that are chewy and tasty, not just a mixture of rolled cereals. But most recipes won't work. There's a secret to making granola that clumps. We'll tell you the secret.
We have a test kitchen in Rigby, Idaho. Our assignment was to make a granola with crispy, chunky clumps. Surely, we thought, pick a recipe that calls for honey or syrup and it should clump. It doesn't. By the time you dry the granola completely in the oven, the syrup is no longer sticky and the rolled cereals fall apart. If you don't dry it completely, it's chewy and not crisp. So there must be a secret ingredient.
The secret is oat flour. A little oat flour mixed with the liquid makes a sticky paste that holds clumps together after drying. It works just like the wheat paste you used in kindergarten. And it doesn't take much oat flour; a quarter of cup per batch will do. With so little flour, you can't tell that it's there.
The recipe is easy—not much more than mixing the ingredients together until they are coated and then baking it in the oven until dried. And you can let your imagination run wild when you make granola. The basic ingredients are cereal, oil, and a sweetener. Then add anything that you like to give it the character, taste, and nutrition that you want—raisins, cranberries, walnuts, or whatever.
What follows is our favorite recipe for homemade granola.
Mix and Match Homemade Granola Recipe
4 cups rolled cereal blend—oats, wheat or barley
1/2 cup sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, or flax seeds
1/4 cup oat flour
1/2 cup honey, maple syrup, or a thick syrup made with 1/2 cup brown sugar and 2-3 tablespoons water
1/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla and/or other extract
3/4 cup raisins or other dried fruit (optional)
1/2 cup walnuts(optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
1. In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together except for the dried fruit. Set the dried fruit aside.
2. In another bowl mix the sweetener, oil, oat flour and extract together.
3. Combine the two bowls, adding the liquid to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. The liquids will be absorbed and the granola will become darker and shinier.
4. Spread the granola in a shallow baking pan. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and stir the granola with a large spatula so that it does not over-brown on the bottom and edges. Add the optional fruit and nuts.
5. Return the granola to the oven and bake for an additional 12 minutes. Remove the granola from the oven and let it cool on the baking sheet.Letting the granola cool on the baking sheet will retain the clumps. Once the granola has cooled, scrape it into a large bowl.
6. Store your granola in a sealed container and use within ten days. May be stored for longer periods in the refrigerator or freezer.
1. Granola will become crispier and crunchier as it cools.
2. Because of the oil, granola will not stay fresh long. Store in an airtight container and use within two weeks. Freeze for longer storage.
Dennis Weaver is the president of The Prepared Pantry, a seller of kitchen tools, gourmet food, baking mixes and ingredients including oat flour and cereal blends for making granola. Learn more about making homemade granola or make homemade granola from a mix.
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