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Homemade Granola with Dried Grapes and Figs



Looking back over my blog there are several posts for granola. I love eating homemade granola – you know exactly what’s in it. Important if you don’t want added sugar. The recipe, or rather procedure, is super easy and quick. I make it every few weeks. The granola keeps well too, in a jar with a good seal like a clip top jar.

So here’s the granola recipe once more. And it’s another food staple that you can rustle up if you’re staying at home in isolation.

I usually add a variety of dried fruit like sultanas and raisins and apricots. This time I added my own version of raisins, black grapes that I dried in the oven. I had some grapes that were past their best, and reluctant to throw them out, I stuck them in the oven on a baking sheet at a very low temperature. Of course ordinary raisins are just fine! I did something similar with figs too. A quick how-to for the dried grapes and figs at the end of the recipe. I also threw in some some glacé orange slices left over from Christmas. This time I didn’t add seeds, however I have included them in the ingredients.

The proportions in the granola are really up to you. The quantities here are a guide only, feel free to add more or less of something to taste. And add different cereals, fruits, nuts or seeds to taste too!

Ingredients

2 cups of rolled oats
1 cup of any cereal you have in the cupboard eg weetbix, corn or bran flakes
1/2 cup of salted nuts like macadamias, cashews, walnuts, hazelnuts
A handful of mixed seeds like pepita, linseed, sesame
1/3 cup of honey, warmed with 1 tablespoon of water to pouring consistency in a microwave
1/2 cup of any dried fruit – dried grapes, figs, sultanas, raisins, apricots, cranberries, or even glacé fruit

Method 

Pre-heat the oven to 140 degrees C. You could try 160 degrees C for a quicker toasting but be careful you don’t burn the mix. Line a large baking tin with baking paper. You need to be able to spread the mix out so that all the mix is exposed to the heat.

Mix the oats, cereal, seeds and nuts together in a large bowl. Loosen the honey before microwaving with the water to make it more runny and easier to mix. Pour the warmed honey onto the mix and quickly stir it through. The mixture will be quite sticky, so stir fairly aggressively.

Spoon the mixture onto the baking paper in the tin, spreading it out so that it covers the base of the tin and there aren’t any big lumps.

Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the mixture is golden brown and thoroughly toasted. You will need to turn the mixture over half way through cooking, so that the underneath mixture gets its time on top and gets toasted. The oven time is a bit of guess work – just keep checking and remove when the mix is golden and not burnt!

Let cool for 5 minutes then add the fruit, combining everything well. Don’t worry if there are some clumpy bits stuck together with honey – they are a bonus!

Delicious with Greek yoghurt, milk or almond milk, or sprinkled over a big bowl of fresh fruit like stone fruit or berries.

Dried grapes are rather like muscatels in that they are more juicy than raisins. I guessed that drying grapes in the oven would work – and it did!

Take any black grapes you have that are just past their best. Pull individual grapes off their stalks or you can leave a few on stalks if you want. Lay the grapes on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Put the baking sheet into the cold oven, then turn oven to 100 degrees C. Bake until the grapes have not completely dried out, but are looking more like raisins. This process should take about 4 hours, but you can decide just how dehydrated you like your grapes.

Store in an airtight jar. You can use them in granola, or as part of a snack mix, or lovely with cheese.

Dried figs are easy to do too. Again, I use figs that are past their best. Cut them in half and place the halves on the baking sheet. Drizzle just a little bit of honey over each half. Bake in the same way as the grapes.

Oat Crumble Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cookies –  chewy or crisp, risen or flat,  there are so many decisions to be made by the baker who’s in search of Cookie Nirvana! I have made so many recipes, followed instructions or tweaked the recipes, just to get the version I like.

I stumbled across this cookie incarnation by chance, when I had some left over crumble mixture. I added a few ingredients, shaped the mixture into balls, chilled in the fridge for 1/2 hour, then stuck them in the oven. The result was nice big pillowy cookies. which were dense and slightly chewy, just like I like them!

I’ve made them heaps of times since, just to make sure the recipe works. And it does. Every time!

The secret to the plump shape of the cookies is definitely chilling the balls in the fridge first before baking.

Ingredients

1 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup ground almonds

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 cup plain flour

1/2 cup roughly chopped nuts (macadamias or pecans work well)

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger 

125 g melted butter

1/2 cup condensed milk

1/2 cup chocolate chips of your choice (dark, milk or white)

Method

Place all the ingredients  except the condensed milk and chocolate chips in a large bowl and mix well to combine. Or put the ingredients into a food processor and pulse gently to combine. If you do this, be careful not to overmix. You want a crumbly texture, not a mushy paste!

Add the condensed milk. This will loosen the mixture and make it easier to shape into balls. You may need to add a little more if the mixture is still too dry. Stir through the chocolate chips.

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees fan-forced. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.

Shape large teaspoonfuls of the mixture into balls and place on the baking trays, at least 2 centimetres apart to allow for spreading in the oven. Pace trays in the fridge for at least half an hour.

Take the trays out of the fridge, and before putting in the oven, flatten the balls slightly with your thumb or the back of a spoon. Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.

Cool on the trays for 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

These cookies can be frozen before baking, and frozen after baking too, so one way or another, you can always have cookies on hand!

 

 

Super Good Granola

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Everyone has a version of granola that they love to make. There are lots on foodie websites at the moment, including of course, a version from my very favourite  chef, cook and food writer – you know who I mean – Jamie!

I have been making versions of granola for a few years, along with home-made muesli and various species of cereal, nut, fruit and seed mixes on the way. I make it up as I go, tweaking the recipes depending on what I feel like at the time.

I really love a crunchy, toasty, baked granola, jammed packed with oats of course, and lots of nuts and seeds. I make a mix, and bake it on the oven till toasted. Once out of the oven and while still warm, I add dried fruit.

Sometime I make the basic mix with a little oil and honey, sometimes just honey, and if I feel super virtuous I make the “naked” version. No oil, no honey, just the unadorned oats and nuts and seeds.

This January 2016 version has a little honey for sweetness. I saw no need for oil, saving a few calories…

This granola has several different kinds of seeds – chia, linseed, sesame, poppy, pepitas – from my healthy food Mecca The Source at Balmain. And lots of nuts. Also  my current favourite dried fruit – mango cheeks, cranberries and sour cherries.

But feel free to pop in what you want. This less of a recipe and more of a list of guidelines.  The quantities are pretty changeable too.

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My Granola

Ingredients

2 cups of rolled oats

1 cup of any combination of seeds – I used chia, linseed, sesame, poppy, pepitas

1/2 cup of any nuts you like – I used macadamias, cashews, walnuts, hazelnuts

1/3 cup honey, warmed to pouring consistency in a microwave

1/2 cup of any dried fruit – I used apricots, mango cheeks, cranberries, sour cherries

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees C. You could try 170 degrees C for a quicker toasting but be careful you don’t burn the mix. Line a large baking tin with baking paper. You need to be able to spread the mix out without too many piles.

Mix the oats, seeds and nuts together in a large bowl. Pour the warmed honey onto the mix and quickly stir it through. The mixture will be quite sticky, so stir fairly aggressively. Sometime I loosen the honey before microwaving with a little bit of water to make it more runny and easier to mix. Up to you.

Spoon the mixture onto the baking paper in the tin, spreading it out so that it covers the base of the tin and there aren’t any big lumps.

Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until the mixture is golden brown and thoroughly toasted. You will need to turn the mixture over half way through cooking, so that the underneath mixture gets its time on top and gets toasted. The oven time is a bit of guess work – just keep checking and remove when the mix is golden and not burnt!

Let cool for 5 minutes then add the dried fruit, combining everything well. Don’t worry if there are some clumpy bits stuck together with honey – they are a bonus!

Serving ideas: with milk, with yoghurt, with fresh fruit or mix with a handful of other cereal such as bran flakes or even more rolled oats. Make a breakfast trifle for something ritzy!

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Jamie Oliver Figgy Banana Bread

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Another lovely recipe from Jamie Oliver’s healthy cookbook Everyday Super Food. It’s a banana bread that is very flavoursome and sweet with remarkably, no sugar! The sweetness comes from the bananas, dried figs and apple. This quirky writer has a sweet tooth, and this recipe really satisfies me.

Reading and cooking recipes from Jamie’s book I’m appreciating that cooking with healthy eating in mind doesn’t mean cutting down on deliciousness. Jamie’s Smoothie Pancakes full of blueberries that I cooked recently, are luscious, sweet and satisfying.

Ingredients

250g dried figs

75ml cold pressed rapeseed oil

125g natural yoghurt

1 tbs vanilla extract

4 ripe bananas

2 large free-range eggs

150g wholemeal self-raising flour

1 heaped tsp baking powder

100g ground almonds

1 tbs poppy seeds

1/2 tsp ground turmeric

1 apple

50g whole almonds (skin on)

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Line a 25cm baking tin with with scrunched sheet of wet greaseproof paper. (You could bake the mixture in a large loaf tin for the more conventional banana bread look. I like the cake tin idea as the bread is so sweet and so rather cake-like.)

Place 200g of the figs in food processor with the oil, yoghurt, vanilla extract, peeled and roughly chopped bananas and eggs. Blitz until smooth.

Add the flour, baking powder, ground almonds, poppy seeds and turmeric and pulse until only just combined. Coarsely grate and then stir in the apple.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and spread out evenly. Tear or chop the remaining 50g figs into pieces. Scatter over the mixture, pushing them in slightly. Chop the almonds and scatter over. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until until a skewer inserted into the bread comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Serve as is, or with any combination of yoghurt, honey and home-made nut butter. I made brazil nut butter to serve with my banana bread.

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Nut butter

To make 1 jar:

Place 200g of any unsalted nuts in a preheated 180 degrees C oven on a baking tray. Bake for 8-10 minutes, then remove from the oven and leave to cool for at least 5 minutes. Tip the nuts into the food processor with a small pinch of sea salt and blitz. The blitzing takes a while for the nuts to be finely ground and then to turn into nut butter. Stop blitzing occasionally and scrape down the the sides of the processor. When the nut butter is the consistency you personally like – from crunchy through to super smooth – store in a jar.

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