It’s long been a feature of breakfasts in North America, but in the UK granola is still something of a novelty.
This crunchy cereal is similar to muesli in that it’s made with rolled oats, nuts and a varying selection of other ingredients. However, it differs from muesli in one main respect: after the ingredients are mixed together, it’s baked in the oven, which gives the cereal its distinctive crunchy texture.
Although granola is often identified as a health food, shop-bought variants can be high in sugar. So making your own granola at home – and it’s very simple to do so – is often a much healthier option. Here are a few of our favourite granola recipes.
Jamie’s granola is incredibly easy to make: he mixes rolled oats, nuts, seeds and honey and toasts them in the oven for 30 minutes at 180 degrees.
Afterwards, he adds in dried fruit and serves it with a simple berry compote and yoghurt, so it almost feels like a dessert. However, Jamie uses 400g of oats to 400g of honey – which might be a little too sweet for some tastes and health goals.
To make it less sweet, use half (or even a quarter) of the amount of honey and throw in the dried fruits before you transfer the mixture to the oven: the heat will make the fruit go plump and syrupy, adding natural hint of sweetness that compensates for the smaller quantity of honey.
Swap honey for maple syrup
It’s not a common store cupboard ingredient in the UK, but maple syrup is a fantastic alternative to honey in granola. Since maple syrup is so sweet, you only need a few tablespoons to coat your granola mix and it adds a deep, almost smoky taste.
The popular BBC Good Food granola recipe uses more maple syrup (125ml to about 700g of dry ingredients) as well as honey, but it’s easy to tweak these quantities to suit your own tastes and health needs.
Nigella’s granola recipe makes 10 cups worth, so it’s perfect if you want to make your granola in bulk. But it does have significantly more ingredients than most recipes, so it’s worth playing around with this one to see what works for you and what doesn’t.
For instance, in addition to honey, she also uses soft light brown sugar, brown rice syrup (or failing which, golden syrup) and apple compote. If you’re looking for a healthier granola, it might be best avoid using all of these sweetening ingredients and instead opt for a combination of two – honey and apple compote, for example.
If you want to test a range of granola recipes but don’t have the time to spare, Felicity Cloake – who runs the Guardian’s How to Make the Perfect… series – has done the hard work for you.
Ultimately, she combines the best bits of a range of recipes to make her version of the ‘perfect granola’, though it’s worth reading the comments on this recipe too for reader suggestions.
Unusually, she coats the granola mix in egg white, which supposedly improves the crunchiness. So if you’re worried that usually less honey, maple syrup or sugar is going to affect the crispiness of your granola, an egg white might be just what you’re looking for.
So tell us: will you try making your own granola?