Usually, when we expect one thing, and get something that doesn’t quite meet our expectations, it’s a disappointing thing – a wilty salad, perhaps, or a movie that seemed funny in the previews because they put the only funny part into the preview. It’s disappointing when that happens.
Other times, though, expectations are not set high, but low, for some reason. Perhaps a person seems a bit reserved, but then turns out to be very warm and open when you get to know them. Or, you try a new recipe for something you’ve done many times before – a kitchen staple, nothing exciting – and when it comes out of the oven, you realize what you’ve been missing every other time you’ve made it.
So it was this week when I finally got to borrow a copy of The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook from my local library – after waiting many months, and right after I manage to actually commit to a diet and lose a few pounds. So many temptations – donuts and coffee cakes and, well, you know. I thought I’d photocopy a few that looked good and save them for later, when my jeans fit, but there was one recipe, for granola, that I could work into my current daily calorie-counting regime. So this morning, I made it.
In a word, it was a revelation.
Yes, it has the usual crunch of a granola, and a nice sweetness from the maple syrup, to liven up my morning bowl of yogurt. But this granola was sweeter and more flavorful than any I’ve made before, for a couple of reasons. First, the addition of orange juice adds a nice citrus-y sweetness; but the orange juice also provides added moisture to the oat mixture which results in it forming better clumps than other granolas I’ve made. Cooking it a bit longer at a lower temperature may have helped in that regard too (though I note that it browned well in my oven at 40 minutes, rather than the 50-60 the recipe suggests). Another factor may have been that the dried fruits were not added until after the granola was baked; the fruit was more moist and chewy and added a superb contrast in texture to the crunchy grains.
I loved it, and it had the added benefit of getting The Child out of bed for me: She followed her nose downstairs and helped herself to several handfuls as the granola cooled.
- 3 cups rolled oats
- ½ cup steel-cut oats
- ½ cup shredded coconut
- ½ cup chopped toasted hazelnuts
- ¼ cup sunflower seeds
- ½ cup honey
- ¼ cup packed brown sugar
- ¼ cup pure maple syrup
- ¼ cup canola oil
- ¼ cup orange juice
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup diced dried apricots
- ½ cup dried cherries
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast until fragrant, about 10 minutes. Remove hazelnuts from oven, wrap in a kitchen towels, and rub the nuts together until most of the papery skins have fallen off. Chop hazelnuts and set aside.
- Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees.
- Spray two baking sheets with cooking spray and set aside.
- Combine the oats, steel-cut oats, coconut, hazelnuts, and sunflower seeds in a large bowl and set aside. In another bowl, combine all the remaining ingredients EXCEPT the apricots and cherries, and whisk together until well combined.
- Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix well with a rubber spatula.
- Divide the granola between the two baking pans, spreading evenly. Bake until golden brown, 50-60 minutes, stirring every 20 minutes so that it browns evenly.
- Remove the baking sheets from the oven and let the granola cool. The granola will still seem wet coming out of the oven, but it will crisp as it cools.
- When it is completely cool, transfer granola to a large clean bowl and stir in the dried fruit. Store in airtight bags or jars. Serve over plain or vanilla yogurt. Or milk. Or just eat it out of the bag.