Sunday, 12 February 2012

Sundays

Sundays are made for self-indulgence - getting out of bed a little later than intended, a cup of tea back in bed when 'a little later' isn't later enough, weekday-forbidden pastries, rambling through street markets picking up extravagant odds and ends, and late afternoon baking when darkness comes earlier than expected.

This particularly contented Sunday, sunny but icy, the only question was what would fill the kitchen with a spiced and warm, embracing aroma to assuage any oncoming Monday morning blues. Luckily I had been dwelling all week on the perfect 'what' thanks to Molly of the unparalleled Orangette.

Now, some may say that there isn't much difference between granolas, or more blasphemous still, between granola and muesli. Although an appreciator of all breakfast-bound grains, I am very particular about my choice of granola - it must be simple, though with enough additions to keep it interesting bit after bit, and subtle, allowing the natural sweetness of the oats to shine. Most important of all, it's best when chunky, to add variety in texture when poured over yogurt or avoid sog when mixed with milk. Soggy cereal is the pits.

Using the formula above, I have found or made many munchable versions but I hadn't met my match until Early Bird.

Early Bird granola, with their original Farmhand's Choice, is the most downright addictive granola around. The Brooklyn-based company sells the stuff at the Flea, where I used to pick up a bag and stroll aimlessly, lost in its nutty, crunchy goodness. Although it could be the olive oil which forms extra-crispy chunks (key), the real secret is the salt - along with the syrup, it glazes the grains with what Molly calls a "rumbling savory quality". Yep. That.

So it was love but bitter loss when I left for London. (In a moment that reaffirms the depths of friendship, my oldest friend gave me a grab-bag of NY goodies for Christmas this year which included the company's new 'Crack of Dawn' bars, making for a salty-sweet goodbye to New York as our plane taxied down the runway. It was all I could do to save them for after security, let alone past take off).

And what could I do but whoop triumphantly (on the inside of course...) when I found that Molly had posted Early Bird's recipe. Finally! THE granola. My one and only.

photo: Early Bird

Thank you to Early Bird, for making my mornings, and to Molly, for another lazy Sunday by the stove.


Early Bird Granola
Adapted from Nekisia Davis of Early Bird Foods, and Molly.

Use the largest oats (I like Tesco's Finest Porridge Oats) and the largest sheet pan you can find to ensure even cooking and extra-crispiness. I also like to let mine cool for a while before stirring to get a more chunky granola.

Yield: about 7 cups

300 grams (3 cups) rolled oats
125 grams (1 cup) raw hulled pumpkin seeds
130 grams (1 cup) raw hulled sunflower seeds
50 grams (1 cup) unsweetened coconut chips
135 grams (1 ¼ cup) raw pecans, whole or chopped
85 grams (packed ½ cup) light brown sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
175 ml (¾ cup) maple syrup, preferably Grade B
120 ml (½ cup) olive oil

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, coconut chips, pecans, light brown sugar, and salt. Stir to mix. Add the olive oil and maple syrup, and stir until well combined. Spread the mixture in an even layer on the prepared sheet pan. Bake, stirring every 15 minutes, until the granola is golden brown and toasted, about 45 minutes. Remove the granola from the oven, and season with more salt to taste. Cool completely on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container.

Note: Will keep at room temperature for up to a month.

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