One of the many (oh so many) things I miss being gluten free is granola. I think a lot of my frustration comes from granola really not needing to have gluten in it at all, so I feel like I’m being robbed of yet another tasty comfort food, and one that rather successfully masquerades as “healthy”. Most of the ingredients in amazing granola are things I eat every day, almonds, dried fruit, honey, and so one particularly taxing Saturday in the midst of finals I decided to take a break from work and make a stress-relief comfort snack.
I started with The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook’s Big Cluster Maple Granola recipe. While reading and mentally commiserating with Deb Perelman’s long search for a simple, not-too-sweet, extra clustery granola. The trick is in adding an egg white to bind, meaning you need less honey/maple syrup or other sweetener to do the job. The egg white also, when cooked to the right stage (more on that in a minute), makes for great crispy edges while keeping large clusters still chewy in the middle.
A note on taking liberties
The great thing about granola is that you can really add or subtract many of the ingredients to your taste. Maybe this is another reason I’m especially drawn to it. As far as I’m concerned, the nuts, fruits and spices listed in the recipe below are primarily notes for overall quantities. I found that almonds would fabulously, hazelnuts, on the other hand (and very unfortunately) I found really distracting taste-wise. The original recipe calls for a full 1½ cup of dried cherries. I combined some cherries with some cranberries and chopped dates. I highly recommend the dates. Finally, as you may have noticed, I double a lot of spice amounts in my recipe adaptations. For this one I actually halved the cinnamon and added a couple other things to make the kitchen smell a little less like Christmas. My point here is that I hope you take some liberties with the additional flavors to suit the season, and your own taste.
3c. old-fashioned rolled oats (I used Bob’s Redmill Gluten Free)
1c. shredded coconut
1c. almonds, pecans, walnuts or your favorite nut combo
2 Tbsp. olive oil
½ tsp. salt
2/3c. honey (substitutable for maple syrup or agave nectar. I had honey on hand and I’m not a huge maple fan, so that made my decision).
Pinch each of cinnamon, ground cloves, ground ginger
Splash (about ½ tsp) vanilla
1 large egg white
1½ c chopped dried fruit. I used a combination of cherries, cranberries and dates.
Preheat your oven to 300°f. Combine all ingredients except egg white and dried fruit in a large bowl and toss to coat. Whisk egg white in a small bowl until frothy and pour over granola and stir until all ingredients are well combined. Spread granola into a single layer over a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 35-40 minutes, rotating tray about half way through. When granola is just starting to brown and feels dry to the touch, remove from the oven and let cool completely before breaking into pieces. (I can’t tell you how many times I have learned the hard way the value of letting something cool completely. Especially with brittle GF flours this makes a huge difference. Now when a recipe calls for patience, I just do as I’m told. In this case, your clusters will thank you.) Break granola into a bowl alternating with a sprinkle of dried fruit to mix throughout.
Granola can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for about 2 weeks, or much longer in the freezer (believe it or not this stuff is even delicious frozen) which is what I have to do to stop myself from eating the whole batch in a couple days.