Granola

I can’t claim this recipe as 100 percent my own. It began life in the kitchen of Positano’s beautiful Le Sirenuse hotel. The recipe was good to start with, but I’ve fiddled and tweaked a little to make it (in my opinion) even better. It’s a good way to start your day, especially when paired with chopped fresh fruit and yoghurt.

Rolled oats/oatflakes – 400g
Whole unblanched almonds – 100g
Sunflower seeds – 100g
Pumpkin seeds – 100g
Chia seeds – 2 tbsp
Runny honey – 150g
Dried apricots – 100g
Sultanas – 100g
And/or any other dried fruits or seeds that take your fancy

Set your oven to its minimum temperature. If you have the type of oven that does 90°C, that’s great. If you don’t, just put it on the lowest possible setting.

Ideally you should halve each of the almonds – which should be the type with the brown inner skin still clinging, not the paler blanched ones – but who has time or patience for that? Chopping them into large-ish chunks will do.

Mix everything except the apricots and sultanas in a large bowl, making sure that the honey is spread evenly through the cereal and seeds. What seeds and nuts you use, I should add, is entirely up to you. You can mix and match and vary, but try to keep the proportions more or less the same. 

Line a large baking tray (one of the ones that belongs to your oven might be best) with oven paper and spread the granola mix evenly across it, to a depth of no more than a centimetre or two, then put it in the middle of the oven. If yours, like mine, has a higher minimum temperature, prop the door open very slightly with the handle of a wooden spoon to let some heat escape. 

While it’s cooking, cut the apricots into strips or good-sized chunks. Again, what fruits you use is entirely up to you: I say apricots and sultanas here because that’s what I like. But in fact you can add just about anything in the dried fruit line – again, respecting the proportions.

I start checking on the granola after about 45 minutes, just to make sure nothing’s getting too brown: nicely golden is what I’m after. When it’s beginning to look right – probably after an hour – sprinkle the dried fruit over the surface evenly, quickly replace the tray in the hot oven. Then turn the oven off and leave the granola in there as it gradually cools down. 

If on the other hand you’re cooking at 90°, check the colour as you go along but plan on adding the fruit after an hour and a half. Bake for a further ten minutes, then remove the tray from the oven and set it aside to cool.

The result (probably) won’t be a solid mass: just a crumbly fragrant mess with some larger stuck-together bits in it. When it’s completely cold, use an egg slice to ferry the granola into a big tightly sealed jar. How long it keeps I can’t tell you because mine disappears well before it has a chance to go soggy, but for a month or so it should be fine.

©Anne Hanley