Orange, Currant and Coconut Granola
I’m pretty sure breakfast has always been my favorite meal of the day. After all, it’s really the only meal where it is perfectly acceptable if not encouraged to get something super-sweet and super-savory at the same time (and let’s just say I love good excuses to eat sweets). Breakfast is also almost always satisfying, no matter how simple or extravagant it is. How can one judge or pick favorites between a small bowl of yogurt with some honey and fruit, or a flaky, warm pain au chocolate and a cappuccino, or even a thick slice of french toast with pecans and syrup on top and bacon on the side? You really can’t. They all have their places in the breakfast world, and I can’t imagine waking up each morning without them. And honestly, I’m pretty sure I could eat a fried egg over a buttered piece of whole grain toast, sprinkled with some coarse salt and pepper on top any time of the day, every day.
Although breakfast has always decidedly been best in my opinion, I’ve been especially interested in it lately. I think it has something to do with a combination of two things–my efforts at eating healthier and balanced, and Heidi Swanson‘s Super Natural Every Day that I can’t stop reading and re-reading. I know the whole blog world has ooh’ed and ahh’ed over the book for a couple months now, but I just got my hands on a copy my sister let me borrow and of course it’s better late than never, no? I find each section lovely but I’ve been drawn to breakfasts to start. I began by making the baked oatmeal, which I am certain the most oatmeal-hating person would love, as well as trying the muesli and multi-grain pancakes (which I made two days in a row they were so good).
I had always been a bit skeptical of homeade granola recipes–I’ve grown up on the large, store bought packages with the big clumps and chunks of granola that can only get their texture from some form of commercial processing. But, of course I had to try Heidi Swanson’s. I’m so glad I did, because while I wasn’t wrong in my belief that homemade attempts at certain things can’t imitate commercial processing procedures, I was wrong in my thought that they were superior.
Nothing but homemade granola could create such crunch, chew, and lightly kissed sweetness that this recipe had. I loved the combination of flavors that Swanson chose for the recipe–the orange is refreshing and pairs nicely with the coconut. I also love the dried currants, which after toasting had turned into little bites of chewy goodness. The granola wasn’t overwhelming or heavy in the slightest like some packaged brands, and although it didn’t clump or chunk together like my (once) beloved commercial granolas, I liked the loose granola and how a touch of orange and sweetness individually coated every piece. Yes, I think this recipe has become a new breakfast staple in my ongoing growing list. Simple, textured, slightly sweet, and wonderful.
Adapted from Super Natural Every Day
Makes about 8 cups
In this version I lowered the amount of maple syrup called for and instead added in the juice of the oranges. I wanted to add extra orange flavor and I still think the end result was perfectly sweet. Also, I didn’t use large flake coconut as called for in the recipe, and the difference in size and texture of the coconut is reflected in the pictures above. This recipe halves well and adapts easily. Substitute the walnuts for almonds (or use both), use golden raisins instead of currants… you get the picture. The main flavor elements here are coconut and orange, so whatever you do, make sure you don’t skip them.
4 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups walnut halves
1 cup unsweetened shredded large-flake coconut
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
2/3 cup dried currants
grated zest of two oranges
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup of juice from the oranges
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees with racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven. Set out two rimmed baking sheets.
Combine the oats, walnuts, coconut, salt, currants and orange zest in a large mixing bowl (hands work well). Heat the butter in a small saucepan over low heat and stir in the maple syrup and the juice of the oranges. Wisk until thoroughly combined, then pour the maple mixture over the oat mixture and stir until everything is well coated, at least 30 seconds. Divide the mixture equally between the two baking sheets and spread into a thin layer.
Bake, stirring a couple times along the way, for about 35 to 45 minutes, or until the granola is toasty and deeply golden. You may want to rotate the pan once, top to bottom, to ensure even baking.
Remove from the oven and press down on the granola with a metal spatula–you’ll get more clumps this way. Let cool completely, then store in an airtight container at room temperature.
EDIT: This picture (and the picture right before it, too) are taken from a separate time I made this recipe. I used almonds and golden raisins instead of walnuts and currants. Delicious as always. Make it.