When we go out for breakfast we always scan the menu for granola (sorry, avocado toast); nothing quite beats a bowl of crunchy, oaty goodness and while restaurants were closed for business we spent a lot of time trying different granola recipes, but this is one we kept coming back to.
Taken from Vegan Cooking for Everyone , by chefs David and Stephen Flynn, AKA The Happy Pear, the recipe book lays out the essentials for getting to grips with cooking delicious plant-based food, to the point where you don't even need the recipe book anymore. David and Stephen have written three bestselling cooking books already and have had their recipes viewed 20 million times online, so we're inclined to trust what they have to say....
"Granola is something we make tonnes of every week, as we sell three types of granola in hundreds of supermarkets across Ireland, it's really straightforward to make," they write.
There are three main types of oats that you can use in granola:
• Regular oat flakes: These are the most readily available and work great, but they can sometimes be a bit powdery and they don’t hold their structure as well as jumbo flakes when baked.
• Jumbo oatflakes: This is what we typically use, as they hold their shape the best. They don’t go powdery and the granola doesn’t clump together as much.
• Gluten-free oat flakes: If you are gluten intolerant or coeliac, then these are the best choice for you. They tend to come only in a standard-sized oat flake.
Use whatever nuts you like or have on hand. You can add them whole or chop them up, depending on your preference. If you chop the nuts they will go further throughout the granola, which means you’ll get more bang for your buck.
The seeds we use most often are pumpkin, sunflower, sesame and chia, but again, use what you like or have on hand. Pumpkin seeds add a nice fleck of green and become a bit crunchier than the others due to their larger size.
Our framework uses a liquid sweetener rather than granulated sugar, such as caster sugar. We tend to go with maple syrup, but you could use date syrup, brown rice syrup, agave syrup, apple syrup, coconut nectar, or whatever liquid sweetener you have or like best.
We use oil that doesn’t have a strong flavour, as the purpose of the oil in granola is not to add flavour, but to ensure that the oats crisp up nicely when baked. We use a medium-grade sunflower oil the most, as it has a neutral flavour. If you use a highgrade oil, such as cold-pressed sunflower or olive oil, it will have a strong, distinct flavour that will overpower the taste of your granola, so it’s best to avoid them. We also use coconut oil sometimes, which gives a crisp texture with a subtle undertone of coconut flavour.
Dried fruit will give your granola a nice contrast of colour and texture while also adding some sweetness, but if you aren’t a fan of dried fruit, simply leave it out. We use raisins and goji berries (for their vibrant red colour, but use them sparingly as they can sometimes be too hard or chewy) as well as chopped dried figs, dates, prunes, apricots and apple slices. Dried mango is another one of our favourites – use scissors to cut it into small pieces. As with the nuts and seeds, use whatever dried fruit
you like or have on hand.
The key to using dried fruit in granola is to add it once the baked granola has come out of the oven and cooled completely, otherwise it will become even drier and tough, making it too hard and chewy.
If you want to take your granola to the next level, here are a few optional extras to add more variety and flavour:
• A pinch of ground cinnamon goes great with dried apples.
• Add some cacao powder for chocolaty granola.
• Cacao nibs add a nice chocolaty flavour without the added fat and sugar.
• Coconut flakes, desiccated coconut and coconut milk powder add a subtle, milky, coconut undertone.
• Sometimes we also add a couple of tablespoons of ground flax seeds at the end, after the granola has come out of the oven and cooled, to add more body and nutrients.
• Freeze-dried raspberries or strawberries and chopped pistachios add pops of colour.
• Some extracts, such as almond extract, vanilla extract, orange oil, to add more concentrated favour.
If you like granola that has big clusters in it, then it’s as much about the process as it is the ingredients. So first of all, using a thicker, stickier sweetener, such as molasses, dark date syrup or really dark coconut blossom syrup, will help clusters to form. In addition, regular oat flakes cluster much better than jumbo oat flakes, so use small, regular oat flakes for better results.
Then, just before baking, when your granola is on the trays, use your hands or the back of a clean cup to pack down the granola and encourage it to form a flat, tight layer, which will help the oats, fat and sweetener to stick together. Once it’s packed tightly and then baked, the granola will stick together into a ‘blanket’ that can be broken apart into clusters. To make any of these granola recipes gluten-free, simply use gluten-free oat flakes.
400g jumbo oat flakes
30g flaked almonds
100g pumpkin seeds
pinch of salt
150ml date syrup
80ml sunflower oil
30g goji berries
Makes approx. 1kg
1. Preheat the oven to 160°C fan/350°F/gas 4.
2. Chop the nuts (but not the flaked almonds)
3. Mix the oats, nuts, seeds and a tiny pinch of salt in a large bowl. Make sure you leave the dried fruit and any fancy extras aside, as they will be mixed in at the very end, once the granola is cool. If you prefer to eat your nuts raw, then leave them aside with your dried fruit, otherwise include them for a crunchier, more flavourful nut.
4. In a separate bowl or jug, mix the sweetener, oil and flavour agents (if using) together until well combined. Add to the dry mix in the bowl and mix thoroughly so that each oat flake, nut and seed gets an even coating.
5. Spread the granola out on a baking tray (or two if needed). Make sure the mix is spread out evenly if you want a nice crunchy granola – if it’s not spread out evenly, it will steam as well as bake and result in some soft and some crunchy bits in your granola.
6. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, until golden brown, but you can bake it for longer if you prefer more of a crunch and a darker colour. The longer you leave it in the oven, the crunchier it will get up to the point where it will start to burn, so keep an eye on it to ensure you take it out before that happens!
7. Once the granola is baked, leave it to cool for at least 20 minutes. Make sure it really is cool before transferring to a large bowl and stirring in the dried fruit (and any optional extras from the list).
8. Granola is great sprinkled on porridge or served on its own with non-dairy milk or yoghurt. Stored in an airtight container, it will easily keep for a few weeks.