The top granola recipe

plum oil granola


I never planned to write about this granola, since both Molly and Cenk did excellent adaptations. Because they are probably sick of me clicking on their sites, I finally jotted it down on a scrap of paper. And since that scrap of paper gets pulled out of my files at least once every other week, I thought that it was simply too good to keep buried away under my piles of paperwork and I'd share it here.
Although I haven't tried the thousands of variations of granola floating around (and in Why Stealing is Wrong?, I got my comeuppance for trying to pilfer another one), this is what the French would call le top du top—the best of the best. (I don't know what they call "comeuppance" in French, but I seem to get mine frequently around here. Like the other day, when I was feeling cocky because I finally managed to extricate myself from my nefarious cable company and went to the France Telecom office to see if I could finally get one of those fancy iPhones like absolutely everyone else has.
"C'est pas possible, monsieur", I keep hearing, even after I reason to them that I want to switch to a much more expensive plan, giving them more money, and let them sell me a pricey new phone. They say it may be possible, peut être, sometime in 2010. But I ain't gonna garde mon souffle…)


The first time I made it, I was surprised that it called for applesauce, which stands in place of the cupful of oil that often gets added to granola. I don't have anything against oil, but the fruit puree makes a granola that's extra crispy-crunchy, and I pick out the big chunks of granola off the baking sheet as soon as they're cool and eat them like candy. Heck, sometimes I stick a big spoon in the jar and eat it straight from the container.

(I sometimes do that with orange juice, reasoning that it's more ecological since I'm saving washing a glass. I do, however, draw the line at drinking wine out of the bottle. I'm not a total rube, although I suppose that would make more sense as well, using my logic)

As the seasons passed, I found that I could use other unsweetened fruit purees instead of the compote de pommes (unsweetened applesauce) that the original recipe by Nigella Lawson calls for. Peach, nectarine, pear, and banana puree have all been successfully stirred into the mélange. I use a multi-grain mix which I buy at the health food store, called flacons 5 céréales, which looks similar to old-fashioned rolled oats but contains wheat, oats, rye, rice, and barley. You can use regular rolled oats, but I think the mix makes it a bit more lively. I've used toasted and untoasted; both work fine.

Of course, you can replace the almonds with walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, or cashews. Les noix de pecan have become a bit trendy in Paris recently and I used to buy them, though you have to be careful since they're often quite expensive and not as fresh as one might hope. The last bag I'd left on my baking shelf for a couple of months. And when I went to retrieve it, well…let's just say those little pricey fellas could have used a shave and I almost cried tossing them out, literally.


So I stocked up on a recent trip to the states in one of those membership-only stores that I crashed with my friend, where we also had griddled wieners with all the fixin's for just $1.50 ! (Which, interestingly, is more than a big, buttery croissant, but less than a tiny cup of coffee here.) And if you can't find rice syrup, which is available in natural foods stores and Korean markets, replace it with maple syrup, Golden syrup, agave, or simply more honey.

How I managed to combine hot dogs and granola in one post, I'll never know. But enough of what this granola is not. What it is, is perfection. It gets nicely and clumpy, but not so much that you feel like you're munching on a gravel pit. It's also low in oil and barely sweet. I can't resist nibbling on the big pieces the moment I pull it out of the oven. But really, it's best to let it cool, when it becomes crispy and crunchy, like the top granola should be. And this is it.


Makes about 2 pounds (1kg)
Adapted from Feast, by Nigella Lawson
I've made this with one tablespoon of plum kernel oil filling in for a tablespoon of the oil called, and let me tell you, it's amazing. I don't know where to get that in the states, but hazelnut or walnut oil, which are both easily available, would be terrific, too.

5 cups (450g) multi-grain flakes or old-fashioned rolled oats
3 cups (375g) almonds, coarsely chopped
1 cup (125g) sunflower seeds
3/4 cup (100g) untoasted sesame seeds
1/2 cup (120g) packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon dried ground ginger
1 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup (180g) unsweetened applesauce (or another unsweetened fruit puree)
1/3 cup (100g) rice syrup
1/4 cup (80g) honey
2 tablespoons plum kernel oil

Preheat the oven to 300F (150C).

1. In a very large bowl, mix together the flaked grains or oats, almonds, sunflower and sesame seeds, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and salt.
2. In a small saucepan, warm the fruit puree with the rice syrup, honey, and oil.
3. Mix the fruit mixture into the dry ingredients until thoroughly dispersed, then divide and spread the mixture evenly on two baking sheets. (If you have ones with sides, often called jelly-roll pans, use them.)
4. Bake the granola for about 45 minutes, stirring every ten minutes, until the granola is deep golden brown.
5. Remove from oven, then cool completely.
Store the granola in a large, airtight container. It will keep for up to one month.

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