I've been making my own granola since I moved out of my parent's house and realized store-bought cereal that isn't full of corn syrup and soybean oil is pretty expensive. Most of these experiments in home cereal-making have been tasty ones, but they rarely produce crunchy clusters without a heavy hand of sugar.
However, in The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, Deb Perelman presents an easy solution: egg whites.
As she writes in the recipe headnote, "Nothing glues like protein." Indeed, this granola was the most well-clustered I've ever produced in my kitchen. The toasted wheat germ adds a boost of nuttiness (and nutrition) while also helping the oats bind together. Since the rest of the ingredients—oats, walnuts, coconut, dried fruit—are fairly typical in granola, it is absolutely the egg white that takes this cereal over the top.
Why I picked this recipe: The promise of big clusters and hearty crunch with a (relatively) small amount of sugar was too tempting to pass up. Also, I was out of cereal.
What worked: Exactly as promised, this granola baked up in generous clusters with just a hint of maple-y sweetness.
What didn't: If you use a dark baking pan as I did, be sure to decrease the baking time by 5-10 minutes. Mine emerged just shy of burnt after the full 50 minutes. I also found 1 1/2 cups of dried fruit to be a little excessive, ratio-wise, so I scaled back to just 1 cup.
Suggested tweaks: While it is easy to tweak mix-ins and sugar levels to suit your taste (and since the clusters aren't dependent on sugar, you can certainly play with that), I'd stick to the same ratio of oats to nuts. If you want to make this gluten-free, you could absolutely cut out the wheat germ and use gluten-free oats.
Excerpted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. Copyright © 2012 by Deb Perelman. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Available wherever books are sold.
3 cups (240g) old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup (50g) unsweetened shredded or flaked coconut
1 cup (100g) walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup (25g) toasted wheat germ
2 tablespoons (30ml) olive oil
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 cup (120ml; or increase to a cup if a sweeter granola is preferred) maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 large egg white
1 1/2 cups (215g) dried cherries or another dried fruit, diced if large pieces
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Combine all ingredients but the egg white and dried fruit in a large bowl, tossing to coat evenly. Whisk the egg white in a small bowl until frothy. Stir into the granola mixture, distributing it throughout. Spread it in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Bake for 45 to 55 minutes. About halfway through the baking time, use a large spatula to turn over sections of the granola carefully, breaking them up as little as possible. Rotate the pan if granola is baking unevenly. When it is evenly browned and feels dry to the touch, transfer the pan from the oven to the cooling rack. Cool completely. Once it’s completely cool, break up granola into whatever size clusters delight you. Sprinkle in dried fruit.
The granola keeps at room temperature in an airtight container for 2 weeks. It keeps even longer in the freezer, if you’re the stockpiling type.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 9g||12%|
|Saturated Fat 2g||10%|
|Total Carbohydrate 35g||13%|
|Dietary Fiber 3g||11%|
|Total Sugars 19g|
|Vitamin C 3mg||15%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|