Granola – Quicker and easier than I thought

You’d think that someone who lived at least 10 years of her life as an ultra “crunchy granola” type (vegan for a while, even) would have made granola before.  No pun intended.  🙂

But, I had not until this morning.  Why not until now? I think the idea of heating up the oven and having to stir something rather spill-able on cookie sheets  gave me the second thoughts.

Why now?  Let’ see…Steve will eat oatmeal, but he really likes to put all kinds of stuff in it, which means breakfast featuring oatmeal was turning into a big procedure, with having to keep in stock and set out each time all the nut, seed, and dried fruit “condiments.”   I griped, and Steve suggested granola.  “Good idea,”  I thought, but then remembered that most store-bought granolas are high in fat, include high-fructose corn syrup, and can have scary-sounding ingredients in them.  Time to make my own!

I looked around online and found a few recipes to use as guidelines, made sure I had enough rolled oats, and picked up some more nuts and dried fruit.   But I kept putting off making it.  It was the picture of granola spilling all over my oven as I stirred it during the toasting process.  But then…

Lorna Sass to the rescue!  Specifically, her granola recipe in her delightful cookbook, Recipes from an Ecological Kitchen, by Lorna J. Sass.  You will find it verbatim  at the end of this post, including her comments at the beginning of the recipe.

Here is why I like it:  She gives directions to toast the granola in a skillet rather than in the oven!  Okay, so I did spill on the stove-top while stirring, but that is ever so much easier to clean up than if granola falls into the bottom of an oven.  And, as she notes, it is more energy efficient to use a burner for a few minutes rather than heating up the oven for 1/2 an hour.  Plus, the recipe is low in fat.

I used Lorna’s recipe for the general idea of proportions, but I used all oats and a handful beyond the three cups, 1/2 cup each of chopped walnuts and almonds, and a cup of dried fruit – a mix of pineapple, cranberry, and raisins. I added a tad extra oil and used 1/2 cup of maple syrup since I was using more dried goods than called for in the original recipe.

before toasting

I love my old cast iron “fryer.” I really need to season it because I have used it quite a bit for stews, especially tomato-based, acidic dishes, and have not keep up with proper cleaning and seasoning methods.  But, it is great for keeping most of the granola in the pan!

just about fully toasted
heat turned off and fruit added
Cooling off. Note mess on stove top 🙂

I did have a slight mishap when stirring the granola as it cooled and opted to finish the cooling in big bowl.

This is a great recipe.  I just had some with yogurt and I think it has just the right balance of sweetness, crunch, and chewiness.  So, there it is.  🙂


[Here is the original recipe from Recipes from an Ecological Kitchen, by Lorna J. Sass.]

Triple Grain Granola     Makes about 4 cups

The advantage of making your own granola is that you can control the amount oil and sweetness and, ideally, use all organic ingredients. (Although touted as healthful foods, many commercial granola mixes are loaded with sugar and fat.) Of course, it’s much cheaper to make granola yourself-and very simple.

The possibilities are endless, but here is one to begin with.  Unless you are heating up the oven for another purpose, the most fuel-efficient way to prepare granola is to pan-toast it. Make up a big batch and refrigerate it for up to 1 month or store it in the freezer for up to 8 weeks.

Skillet: 5 to 7 minutes
Oven: 20 to 30 minutes at 375 degrees

  • 1 cup each old-fashioned oatmeal (rolled oats), wheat flakes, and rye
    flakes, or 3 cups oatmeal
  • ½ cup walnuts or almonds, coarsely chopped if desired
  • ¼ cup unhulled sesame seeds
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup safflower or light sesame oil
  • 1/3 to ½ cup (depending upon desired sweetness) maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • ½ cup raisins or currants (optional)
  1. In a 10-inch (or larger) cast-iron skillet, combine the grains, nuts, sesame seeds, and cinnamon.
  2. In a measuring cup, combine the oil, maple syrup, and vanilla, and pour over the dry ingredients while stirring. Mix well to blend.
  3. To pan-toast: Toast over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until oats and nuts become crispy and brown, the sesame seeds begin to pop, and the maple syrup emits a burned-sugar aroma, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  4. Stir in the raisins (if using). Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.
  5. Transfer to a tightly sealed storage container.

Cook’s Notes: If your skillet is smaller than 10 inches, pan-toast the granola in batches.

To oven roast: Combine the oat-nut mixture and the rest of the ingredients (except for the dried fruit) in 1 large or 2 small cast-iron skillets or spread on 1 large jelly-roll pan. (Cookie sheets can also be used, but be careful to avoid spills when stirring.) Bake at 375 degrees (the oven doesn’t have to be preheated), stirring every 5 to 7 minutes, until grains are dry and crisp, about 20 to 30 minutes. Follow steps 4 and 5.