Sorry for such a lull in the posts, kids. Things have been a bit nutty around here. All our birthdays are clustered in a one-month period, plus we’ve been away for the last two weekends, plus it’s hot and when it gets hot, the kitchen shuts down at Casa Nitz. Not entirely, of course, but I just haven’t been particularly inspired to make anything that requires much of an effort.
Of course, I’ve been drooling over this and all its contents, but the idea of turning on the oven has stopped me from making anything…until now. I had to try the seeded granola. And turns out, while my original recipe is still delicious and healthy, this one is kind of ridiculous. Why? Well, I blame/thank the butter. Yes, everything really is better with butter. That’s not marketing; that’s the God’s-honest truth. And also the cooking of the syrup/wet mix. That gets everything really nice and crunchy.
I made a couple substitutions for things I didn’t have, which you can certainly do, but the key is to use mostly seeds (versus nuts, but nuts are okay too). And the absolutely essential ingredient that really takes this granola over the top? Cayenne pepper. It gives it just a hint of heat, but it’s more than that. It’s a smokiness which somehow fits so well with the seeds. Ridiculously good. In fact, going forward, I think I may need to make ALL of my granola with cayenne.
NOTES: This recipe makes about 10 cups, which is a lot of granola. I halved it, but if you’re some kind of granola maniac, go for the whole batch. Also, the original recipe says to bake it at 325º, but I find that granola cooks better at a lower temperature, so I ended up cooking it at 300º and a bit longer than the 30 minutes called for. The important thing is to keep an eye on it and if it looks like it’s getting too dark, take it out. There’s really nothing worse than burnt granola. Well, maybe this.
Adapted from Kim Boyce’s Good to the Grain
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
4 cups whole rolled oats
1/2 cup sliced raw almonds
1 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/4 cup flaxseeds
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup honey or brown rice syrup
1/2 cup brown sugar
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Preheat oven to 325ºF/165ºC. Toast the pumpkin seeds on a baking sheet until light golden brown, about 10 minutes (the original recipe said it would take about 18 minutes, but mine were done much faster, so make sure to keep an eye on them!).
Combine the dry ingredients in a big bowl, adding the toasted pumpkin seeds when they’re done. Turn the oven down to 300ºF/149ºC. Butter two baking sheets (I used one small and one large rimmed sheet pan).
Meanwhile, combine the wet mix in a small heavy saucepan and cook over medium heat. Stir it once and then just let it sit until it comes to an even boil, which means the center of the syrup needs to be bubbling (not just the edges). Take the pan off the heat and pour it over the dry mix, making sure to coat all the dry ingredients with the syrup.
Spread the granola evenly onto the baking sheets and bake for 10 minutes. Take the pans out of the oven (closing the oven door to keep the heat in) and stir to bring the outside edges of the granola into the middle of the pan and push the stuff in the middle out to the edges. Rotate the sheets (meaning put the top sheet onto the bottom oven rack and the bottom on the top) and cook for another 10 minutes. Cook for 30-40 minutes, stirring and rotating as above every 10 minutes.
Remove the pans from the oven and allow the granola to cool completely on the pans; this allows those delicious crunchy clusters to form. Stored in an airtight container, it should last at least a week.