I make my own granola. I have gone through phases of making my own yogurt, my own bread, canning my own tomatoes, pickling my own pickles, but the granola thing is the only one that has become more than a phase, it's really more of a habit at this point. I know it's a bit tree-hugging of me, but then, I do really like trees. I even signed up to volunteer for the Parks Department's Million Tree Initiative. But that's beside the point.
My favorite granola recipe is out of Nigella Lawson's book Feast. I think that the salt and the applesauce are really what make the recipe. I'm very into salty sweet things these days...salt caramels...by the way why is this a craze that is sweeping San Francisco, Paris and Seattle and not New York?!! And the applesauce basically serves to make the granola smell like apple pie when it is in the oven. Delightful.
For some reason I have the British version of Feast, so all of the measurements are in weight instead of volume. This is perhaps unfamiliar to American cooks, but as long as you have a scale (I prefer Salter digital scales), it's actually an easier way to cook than using measuring cups. Just reset the scale after you add each ingredient and you'll only have to get one bowl dirty. Genius. But for those who have yet to buy a scale, I've provided both measurements below.
Andy's Fairfield Granola
From Feast, by Nigella Lawson
450g/4 1/2 cups rolled oats
120g/1 cup sunflower seeds
120g/3/4 cup white sesame seeds
175g/3/4 cup applesauce (I use Trader Joe's unsweetened Gravenstein applesauce)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
120g/1/3 cup brown rice syrup (I buy this in bulk at Integral Yoga Natural Foods)
4 tablespoons honey (I like the wildflower honey from the second floor at Fairway)
100g/3/4 cups light brown sugar (I use the dark brown sugar from Trader Joe's, which is on the darker side)
250g/2 cups raw almonds
1 teaspoon Maldon salt (use Kosher if you don't have Maldon)
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
300g/2 cups of raisins (optional)
Preheat oven to 300-325 degrees Fahrenheit. The exact temperature depends on how hot your oven runs, I tend to bake at 325.
Mix everything except the raisins together very well in a large mixing bowl. Use a couple of spatulas, the mixture is too sticky to use your hands.
Spread the mixture out on two baking sheets (spray first with cooking spray) and bake in oven, turning over about halfway through baking and re-distributing the granola evenly during the baking process (I find a bench knife works best for this). The goal is to get it evenly golden without toasting too much in any one place. This should take anywhere from 40 minutes to about an hour. The baking process may require a bit of trial and error--it can be difficult to tell when the granola is done since it doesn't harden until it cools. I would pay attention to the color. When it is verging on a dark golden glow the granola is done.
How finely you break the granola up once it is cooled is up to you. I try to leave large shards since Paul likes to snack on them, but if you eat your granola more as cereal, shatter it freely.
If desired, mix cooled granola together with the raisins (I tend to skip this step as I'm not crazy about raisins in granola). Store in airtight jar (the one in the picture is from the Container Store).