Within certain circles, my mother has a bit reputation when it comes to cooking from a recipe. We like to tease her about her freewheeling approach to following directions. She doesn’t sweat the details – recipes are a starting place to her, not a set of directions that must be followed. Of course, this approach has advantages. Rare are the days when she passes on a recipe because she doesn’t have an ingredient – there is always a suitable substitute. However, when something goes wrong, it’s hard to fault the recipe.
But, in the end, I love this carefree approach my mother brings to her cooking, mostly because it is in such contrast to my own tendencies. Once I see the recipe pictured, I want to reproduce it as closely as I can. I’ve written before about going out on shopping expeditions to find the right size pan for my cherry picnic cake. If my mom made the cake, she’d have been eating it for days before me, having roughly sized up an appropriate cake pan from the stack in the cupboard by the oven and carried on without missing a beat.
But on to the granola – this recipe has been handed around and adapted within the family for a few years now. It is also one of Sean’s favorite breakfast items at my parents house. Knowing that he loves it, my mom often gives him a bag of it as a gift. While I have dabbled with other granola recipes over the years, this one remains his favorite. So, I decided I should try and make it at home.
When my mom gave me this recipe, I teased her that trying to reproduce it was a bit like translating a foreign language. The basics of the recipes were spelled out with my mom’s unique abbreviations, accompanied by notes, crossed out measurements and directions accumulated over several rounds of baking. There were notes about baking in a convection oven versus a food dryer. But one of the key things this made me realize is that the baking process is not so much about cooking the granola but drying it out. So, to keep things easy, I added directions on how to bake in a conventional oven. You’re on your own with the food dryer!
Rise and Shine Granola
The thing with granola is that it thrives on improvisation. This recipe comes from my aunt Georgia who shared it with my mother. And it is not lost on me that I’ve adapted it for you!
6 cups (700 g) thick oatmeal
1 cup (140 g) sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds
1 cup (145 g) coarsely chopped almonds
½ cup (70 g) sesame seeds
1 cup (140 g) raisins
1 cup (90 g) unsweetened coconut flakes
½ cup (85 g) candied ginger, chopped
1 cup (150 g) dried pineapple
½ cup (150 g) maple syrup or honey
⅓ cup (70 g) oil
¾ cup (170 g) unsalted butter
¼ cup (65 g) brown sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Prepare two large rimmed baking sheets and line with parchment paper. Set aside. Heat oven to 275 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the oatmeal though the dried pineapple. Stir gently to combine.
In a small sauce pan over medium heat, combine the maple syrup, oil, butter and brown sugar until the sugar dissolved. Remove from heat, whisk in the salt, cinnamon and vanilla extract.
Pour the warm liquid over the dry ingredients. Stir well to combine.
Spread the granola evenly between the two pans. Place in preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes. Turn the oven off and let the granola sit in the hot oven for 10 minutes. Rotate pans, then turn the oven back to 275 and bake for another 15 minutes. Turn oven off and let sit for 10 minutes with the door closed. At this point, the granola is done, but I like to open the oven door and let the granola cool in the oven.
Once cool, store in an airtight jar or container.