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Granola

At my house granola has been a work in progress. The whole family really likes granola. It’s easy to make. The availability of parchment paper has made it easier still. Most of the ingredients I purchase in bulk at the natural foods section of the grocery store. I’ve spent the last couple years experimenting with various recipes. I used one recipe consistently that called for honey and had little oil. It seemed more healthy. Then last summer my friend Kate gave me a recipe that was like candy and I was cured of trying to be healthy. The granola was a little unwieldy because it stuck together in a glob. This did not detract from the taste whatsoever and no one cares how much trouble it is if they’re not the ones making it. The real problem with granola is that my family members eat it so quickly that I have to make it a couple times a week and it becomes a chore. And that’s using double batches. Sigh.

I’ve found a new recipe to try. It’s based on Best Ever Granola at Alexandra’s Kitchen. She makes candied nuts and adds them, with dried fruit, to the granola at the end. Oh, my. Two of my kids are coming home from college soon. They are bringing several visitors from Sweden. I need to stock up on food, like granola, so here goes. I’m going to give you the doubled recipe. I just don’t know how normal people can make four cups of granola and call it good. Go big or go home.

First, make the candied nuts.

Candied Nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two rimmed baking sheets by covering with parchment paper. Don’t trim the paper too close, make sure to leave enough along the edges to grasp with your fingers.

Prepare the pans with parchment paper.

In a medium saucepan stir together 2/3 cup sugar, 1/2 cup water, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. cinnamon. Bring to a boil.

Make a syrup.

Stir in 3 cups raw whole cashews and 3 cups raw whole almonds. Let simmer one minute.

Stir in nuts.

Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and distribute across the prepared pans.

Resist the temptation to pour the leftover syrup onto the pans because it will burn. (I was really, really tempted. Note to self here . . . next time, after pulling out the nuts, sprinkle a little cayenne into the leftover syrup and dredge pecans through it, then bake the pecans, and use for a different purpose, like spinach salad. I think it would work and would taste amazing. I digress.)

Spread nuts on paper and place into 350 degree oven for 15 minutes.

Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and stir around. You’ll need to hold the parchment paper between your fingers so that it doesn’t slide off the pan onto the floor while you’re stirring. The pan is hot, of course, but the paper you should be able to grip. Put the pans back in the oven for another five minutes or so. Keep a good eye on it and remove when the nuts turn golden.

Bake until golden.

Let them cool on the pans for a little while, then transfer to a bowl. Do not throw away the paper, set it back on the pans.

Granola

In a sauce pan stir together 1 cup oil (I used canola), 1-1/3 cups honey, 2 tsp. vanilla, 1 tsp. salt. Warm the mixture.

Heat the liquid ingredients.

Meanwhile, in a very, very large bowl (mine is a 32-cup Tupperware) mix together 8 cups rolled oats, 14 oz. (4 cups) shredded coconut, and 4 cups sliced raw almonds.

Mix together dry ingredients.

Stir in the warmed oil and honey mixture until it is mixed through. Distribute evenly across the two parchment-prepared pans.

Spread granola across two prepared pans.

Place in the oven to bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and stir. You’re trying to move the more browned parts away from the edges and under. Place back in oven for 5 minutes. Remove and stir. Back into the oven again. Keep repeating the process, reducing the amount of time in the oven until it has turned golden. Watch it carefully, a minute or two in the oven toward the end. Let cool. Another note: try to work quickly or you’ll find that you’ve eaten all the candied nuts by the time you’re finished toasting the granola.

Voila! Toasted granola and candied nuts.

Once cool, break up the granola a little and mix with the candied nuts. Add a couple cups of dried fruit, like cherries or cranberries. Tastes great with yogurt or milk or ice cream.

Granola

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Okay, so once in awhile I do know how to make something pretty.

Tomorrow morning I’m headed to a bridal shower and was asked to bring something to share. This seems appropriate. I clipped the recipe by Aileen Claire (Times Wire Service) from the Anchorage Times back in the 1980s and have made it many times. I was able find it online at Ocala Star Banner, July 23, 1986. I’m going to give you the recipe the way I make it.

Let dough rise until doubled. Then punch down.

Puree dried prunes with orange juice in blender, then stir in almonds and orange zest.

On floured surface, roll dough out to 18 x 12" rectangle.

Spread filling along upper edge of dough.

Start rolling the dough toward you.

Keep rolling.

Brush lower edge with beaten egg.

Can you see the beaten egg along the bottom edge of the dough?

Pinch edges together to seal. Pick up the dough and move it to a greased or parchment-covered baking sheet, seam side down, in a horse-shoe shape.

Make 12 cuts, about 2/3 of the way through toward center of the dough.

Yeah, so I only made eleven cuts. Do as I say, not as I do. Fan the dough out a bit.

Let dough rise until doubled.

Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with sliced almonds. Bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Cover lightly with foil if it starts to turn too brown.

Remove from the oven.

Let cool. Make a thin icing by mixing powdered sugar with orange juice and drizzle over ring. Voila!

Prune Orange Almond Ring

1 pkg. (2-1/4 tsp) active dry yeast

1 Tbsp + 1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup warm water

1 cup warm milk

1/4 cup butter, softened

1 tsp. salt

3-4 cups bread flour

Prune Almond Filling (recipe below)

1 egg, beaten

1/4 cup sliced almonds

Powdered sugar

In a large bowl, combine yeast, 1 Tbsp. sugar, and water. Let stand 5-10 minutes until bubbly. Add milk, butter, remaining 1/2 cup sugar and salt to yeast mixture. Add 2-1/2 cups bread flour to mixer with dough hook and knead very well. Add bread flour and continue kneading until dough becomes smooth and elastic. Let rise until doubled.

Punch down and roll into an 18 x 12″ rectangle. Spoon Prune Almond Filling along top of long side and roll up as for jelly roll. Brush along lower edge with beaten egg; pinch edges to seal. Form into a horseshoe on greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, seam side down.

With scissors make 12 cuts two-thirds of the way in center of roll; fan slices out. Cover; let rise in warm place until doubled in bulk, 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Brush top with more of the beaten egg; sprinkle with almonds.

Bake in 375 degree oven 30-35 minutes, until golden brown, covering with foil as needed to prevent overbrowning. Remove to rack to cool. Drizzle with powdered sugar thinned with orange juice or water.

Prune Almond Filling

1-1/2 cups (about 9 oz.) pitted prunes

1/2 cup orange juice

1/4 cup sliced almonds

2 tsp. orange zest

In a blender or food processor combine prunes with orange juice. Blend until smooth. Pour into bowl; mix in sliced almonds and orange zest.

What kind?

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