I mean, really. How could a person, over the course of 3 years, post three different recipes for virtually the same variation of granola? It’s not like scones, where each recipe boasts a new flavor or variation. These are just your basic granola recipes: oats, nuts, honey, etc. — but each (I claim) is “new” and even “improved.” Do I have nothing better to do than sit around and think of new ways to bake granola?
Apparently not (though I can count on a few fingers the people and piles of laundry that might take issue with that).
I like to think of granola a little like a wardrobe — you’re always going to have your basics, but as the years go by, you accessorize differently, throw out what bores you, and keep what’s comfortable. I’ve been making granola on a regular basis for almost 10 years — I’ve had pumpkin phases, molasses phases, and wheat germ phases. I’ve flirted with pecans, had a one-night stand with chocolate chips, and relied most heavily on the backbone of tried-and-true almonds. For this latest rendition of our favorite breakfast, I employ different methodology: soaking.
Soaking grains is a way to reduce their content of phytic acid. There are many other blogs out there that address this issue in much more detail that I will in this post, but in short, phytic acid is component of grains, nuts and legumes that inhibits absorption of many of the nutrients those foods contain, and is also linked to irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive issues. While not perfect (by any stretch) in our attempts to reduce phytic acid in our foods (I tried for a while, to the detriment of my sanity), I do try to pre-soak (or sprout) beans, nuts, and grains when I can manage it.
Since granola is something we eat almost daily, I was particularly interested in finding a way to soak the components before baking. After reading and trying many recipes that provide this step, I landed on one that we still enjoyed eating and didn’t require much more work — just a little more forethought.
In addition to soaking, there are a couple of other changes I’ve made to our granola: I’ve stopped using wheat germ and canola oil. I tossed out wheat germ after learning that since it has such a short shelf-life once processed, almost all bags in the grocery (or bulk section) are already rancid. I have also stopped using canola oil in the past couple of years, and have replaced the fat in my recipe with coconut oil, a very shelf-stable fat that boasts many beneficial qualities.
My disclaimer is — and yes, you may laugh a hearty chuckle of disdain — I don’t really know if the soaking methods used in my new recipe are actually doing anything. I’ve had a hard time finding clear information on the liquid/acid/grain ratio requirements for adequate soaking — and unfortunately granola has been all but outlawed by many of the resources I search for this information (it being such a brazenly-embraced way of ingesting massive amounts of phytic acid). But we still love it — for its crunch, frugality, and ability to fuel us our bodies straight through ’til lunch. So I do what I can, and hope for the best. Feel free to tell me where I’m going wrong, if you are a holder of that information. Or, let me continue in potentially-erred ways, blissfully unawares.
You can either start this early in the morning, soak it all day and bake it at night, or let it soak overnight and bake it the next day. Either way, you’ll be putting together most of the ingredients, then letting it sit for about 8-12 hours before finishing it up and baking it. I usually do the former, and then let the baked granola sit in the still-warm oven overnight to thoroughly dry out. I go through a lot of coconut oil in my granola obsession — so I buy it by the gallon (for baking, I use a refined oil that is more neutral-tasting than its raw counterpart). Lastly, I slip the skins off the almonds after soaking — for some reason I find this to be therapeutic, but if you think it sounds like a form of Chinese water torture, then just purchase blanched almonds.
* UPDATE: This recipe was updated from the original on July 5, 2011. A friend mentioned that honey is anti-microbial, and might interfere with fermentation during the soaking process. So I’ve added water to the soak, and kept all sweeteners out until just before baking. Hopefully this will go even further in neutralizing phytic acid.
- 6 cups rolled oats
- 1 cup whole wheat flour (alternative flours ok)
- 1 cup unsweetened dried coconut
- 1 cup coconut oil
- 1/4 cup water
- 6 Tbsp plain yogurt or whey (the liquid that separates from yogurt)
- 2 cups raw almonds
- 1 1/2 cups very warm water
In a very large bowl, toss together the oats, flour, and coconut. Warm the coconut oil and water together (stovetop or microwave) until they stir easily. Add the yogurt, and stir vigorously to emulsify as much as possible. Pour this liquid over the oats, and stir to thoroughly coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or a large plate, and let sit in a warm place for 8-12 hours (I cover it very tightly with plastic wrap and place it in my food dehydrator, set at about 95º).
In a separate, smaller bowl, combine the almonds and water. Cover and let soak for about 8 hours.
for the final mixing and baking:
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup sucanat or honey
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 300º, and oil or butter two large sheet pans. Have oven racks in two outer-middle positions.
Drain the soaked almonds, and slip off the skins (discard). Chop the almonds finely, and add to the soaked oats. Stir to combine — this will be difficult at first if your oats have been in a cold kitchen (the coconut oil re-solidifies and clumps everything together).
Warm together the honey, water, and sucanat. Add the salt and vanilla, and stir to dissolve. Pour this liquid over the oats/almonds, and stir to coat.
Divide evenly between baking sheets, spreading to the edges, pressing down gently to pack it into the pans. Bake for about 25 minutes. Remove pans, and flip/stir the granola in each pan. Return pans to oven, switching top to bottom and front to back, and continue cooking for another 20 minutes. Stir again, and return to oven if necessary. Once desired color is reached, remove pans and turn off the oven. After oven has cooled for about 10 minutes, you can return the pans to the oven to let sit overnight. Otherwise, let cool completely in the pans before serving (granola will get crisper as it cools).
This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday at GNOWFGLINS.