As the weather turns cold, then the baking begins. It's no longer an oppressive thought to heat up the kitchen with the oven turned on for hours, and the smell of warm brown sugar wafting through the air is enough to distract one from noticing that the daylight is vanishing way too early these days. One of the things I love to make from scratch is granola. It's cliche, I know, but it is SO good, so easy, and so expensive in the store, where a small bag is $4-$5. It does involve a number of ingredients, some large bowls, and a good two hours... but the end result is amazing and much cheaper than store-bought, and with the added bonus of being able to choose exactly the components that you want.
My initial granola baking experience was with Alton Brown's Granola Recipe. If you are skeptical of random people on the internet giving you advice, then start with him. (But, why are you reading this, then?)
This is a perfectly serviceable recipe, one which will get the job done.
However, there are some drawbacks. First, what's with the 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp measurements? How many dishes am I going to have to do? And, one cup of raisins? This will not do. And, one cup of almonds when the nut packages are 1 1/4 cup in size. Frankly, I can't always get to the grocery store that has the bulk aisle for baking supplies. So, with a couple of modifications, I present the Best Granola Ever. It is built on the concept that I don't like partially opened packages, don't like to do too many dishes, and you can never have too much fruit in granola. I do agree with Mr. Brown... low heat, don't rush the baking time, and stir often.
Equal parts almonds & cashews, and about even quantities of oats and nuts:
3 cups rolled oats
6oz bag of slivered almonds
6oz bag of cashews
14oz bag of coconut (because 3/4 cup leaves a partially open bag... and I like coconut)
1/2 cup brown sugar
Combine the above in a giant bowl.
In another bowl, combine:
1/2 cup maple syrup (equal amount to the brown sugar)
1/4 cup olive oil
Pour this over the oats and nuts, and stir until everything looks well incorporated and even. Spread this in a single layer in as many pans as you need (2 9x13 pans should work...). Bake at 250 for 75 - 90 minutes. Stir every 15 minutes. It is done when everything is dry and nothing is burned.
To this, add:
1 1/2 cups of raisins (I like a combo of golden and regular raisins)
1/2 cup of dried cranberries
1/2 cup of dried blueberries
Or, more... you know, if you like that kind of thing.
Yield: More than you think it will. Find some airtight containers, and squirrel this away for a fall day when you want something sweet, crunchy, and yummy.