Have you ever wished you could eat pie for breakfast? Well, here’s your chance! This homemade granola recipe tastes like Apple Cranberry Pie; I kid you not. Packed with whole grain goodness of rolled oats, dried apples and cranberries, pecans, honey and brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg this granola is a healthy breakfast cereal, topping for yogurt, snack, perfect on a salad…it is fabulous!
As I was pondering the baking I was doing for the Blue Ribbon Country Fair, one of the toppings I thought of putting on my coffee cake was an oat-streusel topping. I didn’t end up doing that, but it did make me wish I had some granola. One of my favourite breakfasts is Greek yogurt topped with fresh fruit and granola (when I’m not eating homemade pickles and a bagel with cream cheese, but that’s another story).
Since it’s Autumn, I decided to give this granola the taste of the season. What says Fall like an Apple Pie? One of the best apple pies I’ve ever had was baked by a friend of ours in Nashville. He makes an apple cranberry pie that is just delicious (I need to publish that recipe, too). So, I thought I’d use dried apples and “craisins” (dried sweetened cranberries). Cinnamon and nutmeg were a must. And since I was thinking of pecans for that oat-streusel topping, they had to go in there too.
For the oats, I used Bob’s Red Mill Organic Extra Thick Rolled Oats because I wanted a nutty, crunchy, texture when they were baked. That and I just love Bob’s Red Mill products. Every product they use is certified organic, produced without synthetic pesticides or chemical fertilizers, and do not contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). They are a fabulous resource for healthy, delicious, whole grains.
The oat you use is completely up to you. That said, there are differences in oat choices that are the product of the whole grain, or oat groat. Here’s a breakdown for you:
- Steel-Cut Oats: The “groat” or oat grain is split, rather than rolled flat.
- Rolled Oats: The oat grain is steamed and rolled flat. The thickness of the rolled oat grain is what will make a difference in what it’s called from this point forward. The thicker the roll of the oat grain, the better it retains its shape when it is cooked. The thickness also impacts cooking time.
- Old-Fashioned Oats: These are actually the same as Rolled Oats, thinner than a thick or extra-thick Rolled Oat. But will still retain their shape.
- Quick Cooking Oats: With these oats, the oat grain is rolled much thinner than Rolled Oats to allow them to cook more quickly. The texture will be different from a thicker rolled oat, but it’s the same grain. Because they are rolled more thinly, they don’t retain their shape as well.
- Instant Oats: This oat grain is rolled even thinner than Quick Cooking Oats. Because they are rolled so thin, they often crumble into a coarse meal, not retaining their shape.
So, what I recommend for homemade granola is Extra Thick or Old Fashioned Rolled Oats since they retain their shape well. I think thicker rolled oats get a more toasted, nutty flavour and texture. Then, you can certainly use whatever dried fruit combination you like; the same with the choice of nut or seeds. This particular combination was delightful, though.
Make this granola…you will be surprised how quickly it disappears!
- 3 cups rolled oats (not instant)
- 3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
- 1½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 scant teaspoon ground nutmeg (fresh does make a difference)
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅓ cup honey
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup dried apples, chopped
- 1 cup dried, sweetened cranberries
- 1 cup pecan pieces
- ½ cup coarsely chopped raw or toasted nuts or seeds
- Preheat the oven to 300° F.
- Prepare a baking sheet by coating it with parchment paper, set aside.
- In a large bowl, add the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.
- Stir to combine and set aside.
- In a small bowl add the honey, oil and vanilla.
- Stir to combine.
- Pour the honey mixture over the oat mixture and stir to combine, making sure the oats are thoroughly coated.
- Spread the oat mixture on the prepared baking sheet in a thin, even layer.
- Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
- Stir the mixture and continue to bake for another 10-20 minutes or until the granola is light golden brown (the thickness of the oat you use will make a difference in baking time. Mine took longer, since I used extra thick oats.)
- Remove the baking sheet from the oven.
- Add the apples, cranberries and pecans and stir to combine.
- Allow to cool completely.
- The mixture will harden as it cools, so break it up, then store it in an airtight container