[Photographs: Vicky Wasik]
I’ve spent a great deal of time eager about granola right here on Critical Eats, and after numerous experiments, I settled on the final word recipe way back—my crispy buttermilk granola.
What units it other than different recipes is the astonishing quantity of liquid it requires, which will get ample time to soak into the rolled oats earlier than they’re baked within the oven. This makes the oats porous and crisp, tender from the within out, and washes out their starch, creating every kind of clusters and clumps. I feel the recipe is ideal as is, however I am at all times open to variations on a theme.
Some time again, I began enjoying round with nondairy substitutes for the buttermilk, and whereas I wasn’t content material with any of the nut-based “milks” I attempted, I discovered shocking success with an uncommon ingredient: overripe bananas.
When mashed right into a thick however clean purée, bananas are in a position to hydrate the rolled oats (and different grains or seeds) in the same approach however with a bonus to taste and diet.
As with my favourite banana bread, this recipe requires pinches of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg to spotlight the banana’s pure taste (together with a touch of salt and a splash of vanilla for an fragrant increase).
The thought is not to make a closely spiced granola, however relatively to layer in sympathetic flavors and aromas that assist the banana pop. This works, due to a necessary oil referred to as eugenol, which is widespread to banana, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.
Along with the rolled oats, I additionally add floor flaxseed, chia, and toasted wheat germ, for each their nutty taste and nibby texture (to not point out their dietary worth).
It is a mix that provides loads of character to the granola, however it’s not important from a structural perspective, so it is okay to depart it out or experiment with different substances as an alternative. The necessary factor is to stay with the portions recommended, in order that new additions do not overwhelm the combo or have an effect on it in sudden methods.
After mixing all the pieces collectively, I let the granola stand for about 30 minutes to completely hydrate the oats and different grains/seeds. It will not harm the granola to sit down out longer if that helps with timing—simply do not rush the method; it takes time for the moisture to work its option to the middle of every grain.
When the combination is absolutely hydrated, I stir in toasted sugar for some refined caramel notes and mellow sweetness, though plain white sugar works effectively, too (if added earlier within the course of, the sugar will forestall the banana purée from soaking into the oats).
As soon as the sugar has absolutely dissolved, creating a lightweight syrup across the oats, I stir in a little bit of melted coconut oil. Refined or virgin oils work equally effectively, however I discover the candy and nutty aroma of virgin coconut oil to be a implausible complement to the tropical banana. Not all manufacturers have an equally potent aroma, nonetheless, so the results will fluctuate; after testing dozens of manufacturers again throughout my coconut cake part, I discovered that Vita Cocoa appears to have the clearest coconut taste.
To bake the granola, I unfold it into a good layer on a parchment-lined half-sheet pan, utilizing a pair of forks to interrupt up the bigger clumps. These clumps will proceed to interrupt up through the stirring course of afterward, so do depart some huge chunks right here and there.
With the intention to drive off all of the moisture with out burning the granola, it is baked off low and gradual at simply 300°F. Right here, it is necessary to know your oven; if it does not run true to dial, the granola might bake too rapidly and brown quicker than it could crisp, ensuing within the unusual dichotomy of burned however soggy granola.
To make sure the granola browns evenly, I toss and stir the combination each 25 minutes or so, working emigrate the granola across the edges to the middle and vice versa. I maintain baking and stirring till it is crisp, dry, and effectively browned.
Due to the banana purée, the combination will look a lot darker than you may usually anticipate from granola, however with ample stirring at 300°F, it will not burn. It is regular for the timing to fluctuate, nevertheless it should not take any greater than two hours.
In the meantime, I season a mix of toasted pumpkin seeds, macadamia nuts, walnuts, and pecans with a little bit oil and salt, after which stir in a mix of dried fruit.
This explicit batch consists of tart cherries, mango slices, and blueberries.
To assist maintain the granola extra homogenous, I prefer to toss it with the fruit and nuts whereas heat, which appears to assist all the pieces stick collectively a little bit extra.
After all, any mix of dried fruits and nuts will do, so use no matter you will have readily available, however the tropical vibe of macadamia nuts and mango pair particularly effectively with banana, in order that they’re value looking for out.
No matter combine you select, when all the pieces’s all tossed collectively, unfold it again out on a contemporary baking sheet to chill.
Rising the floor space of the granola helps it cool quicker and prevents any a part of it from sweating or softening with steam (as it would in a deep bowl).
The cooling course of will take about 45 minutes, however the granola should not be disregarded indefinitely. As quickly because it’s cool, switch it to luggage or jars to maintain it crisp. Or, in case you’re feeling fancy, the cooled granola will be spiked with one final layer of fruit taste: freeze-dried bananas.
Admittedly, the astronaut ice cream-like texture is not for everybody, so do not feel that is in any approach a vital step. However for many who take pleasure in its shattering crunch, freeze-dried banana slices will be loads of enjoyable.
Regardless of all of the bananas concerned, the granola is not over-the-top bananas. It is nuanced and delicate, an intriguing thread of fruit taste that units it other than different recipes.
For me, it is the proper different to banana bread for utilizing up overripe bananas and a beautiful approach for making a young but crunchy nondairy granola.
Like the unique, this granola will maintain for weeks in an hermetic container at cool room temperature, so you’ll be able to savor it for breakfast one morning at a time (or strive a handful over banana pudding for dessert).

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