Granola is a cozy breakfast classic that can be eaten a number of ways: With warm milk or cold yogurt. Mixed dried apricots or fresh apple chunks. Chock full of roasted almonds and sunflower seeds or nut-less. Granola is so quick and easy to make that it’s fun to create a custom seasonal blend or a personalized mix as a gift, which is exactly what I do as we start approaching the gift-giving season.
This autumn, I’ve been developing granola mixes that incorporate rich local pumpkin purée, replacing the oil used in traditional recipes. The spices we all associate with Thanksgiving pies, such as cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice, beautifully enhance the granola, and the amount of sugar can easily be manipulated to suit your sweet tooth.
The basic granola recipe goes something like this: Starts with plain oats, preferably old-fashioned. Mix in your fruits, nuts and spices, spread the mixture on a baking sheet, and tuck it into the oven for a long, slow bake. You might want to add ingredients like nuts or pumpkin seeds toward the end of the toasting and the dried fruit after the mix cools—the oil in nuts can make them over-toast and the dried fruit can get too hard.
The smell alone of this treat will convince even non-breakfast eaters to linger for a few minutes over a bowlful.
Yield:approximately 3½ cups
- 2½ cups quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp. allspice or 1/4 tsp. clove
- 1/2 tsp. ginger
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 cup brown sugar (optional)
- 1/2 cup pumpkin purée
- 2 T. maple syrup, sorghum or molasses
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla
- 1/3 cup hazelnuts, walnuts or pumpkin seeds
- 1/3 cup cranberries, raisins or chopped apricots
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In large bowl, mix the oats, spices and sugar. Add the pumpkin purée, maple syrup (or other sweetener) and vanilla, mixing well until oats are moist. Spread mix on baking sheet lined with silicon baking sheet or parchment paper. Bake 20 minutes. Stir in nuts and/or seeds and bake 15 to 30 minutes longer until crisp and dry. Check frequently to ensure it doesn’t burn, and move them around a bit with a spatula so that they toast all over. Cool slightly before adding fruit. Store in an air-tight container.