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I swear I’m like some kind of fruit magpie at this time of year. I walk around the place, my little dog in tow, and my eye is darting madly back and forth like a crazed sugar addict, scanning the surroundings for a sign of wild fruity goodness. There are the blackberries of course, which are EVERYWHERE right now and our walks are about twice as long because I have to stop and pick them all (Clemmie is very patient). But far more exciting – possibly because it yields about 10 times more fruit for equal amounts of labour – are the apples.
Having lived in a house without a fruiting apple tree for the last 5 years I have become quite adept at seeking my hits elsewhere and there are several prolific, gnarly beasts on the coastline to which I gravitate each year. Where are they? I’m telling no one. They’re mine.
The problem is that we are currently in the process of moving house and our new abode has a very merry plant upon which many a ripe apple can be found. I harvest these, I have about 4 buckets full, and still my gaze returns to the trees by the sea. I mean, if I don’t divest them of their produce, who will?? Will it go to waste?? Surely ’tis better that we have more than we know what to do with that those golden gems fall and rot, never to be tasted, their short lives spent?
OK, so I’ve become a little poetically melodramatic, but I have a passion for this subject.
And now I have far too much fruit.
Thankfully I am not alone in this department and Google revealed many others who have had their fill of stewed apple and are now looking for different ways to get their highs. I had a few ideas and the search results validated these. A little help from Jennifer’s Kitchen for the apple-drying-process and Nigella, D. Lebovitz + Sally’s Baking Addiction for the quantities in the granola, and I had a hit recipe on my hands. A lightly spiced, fruity, nutty mix which is reminiscent of apple pie.
It’s pretty healthy for granola, super yummy and boy does it make all that apple prep worth it.
Note 1 – If you want to make your own dried apples try the recipe from Jennifer’s Kitchen above. I oven dried mine which took AGES as I cut them thickly but it worked well. I also didn’t dunk them in enough lemon juice so if you want whiter slices than mine, do that! Finally it’s worth noting that I used cooking apples which are GORGEOUS dried – tangy but not too sharp. Perfect in the sweet granola.
Note 2 – Apple purée’s a cinch to make. Ideally use cooking apples for texture, but eaters usually work OK too although they may need blending with a machine to mush them down once cooked. Peel and core the apples, removing any bad bits. Place in a pan with a little water and granulated sugar and stew on a medium heat. Stir occasionally to stop them burning and turn off the heat when you have a mush with some yummy lumps remaining. Stir in more sugar if needed. Doesn’t take long at all.
Handful or two of dried apples (if doing your own in the oven you need to do this well in advance as you’ll need the oven for your granola. See Note 1 above.)
125g quick (porridge) oats
150g jumbo oats
75g dry uncooked quinoa
50g raw whole almonds, roughly sliced
50g raw whole hazelnuts, roughly chopped
75g raw pumpkin seeds
75g raw sunflower seeds
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
75g coconut oil/vegetable oil (I used a mixture but either will do)
175g syrup (I used golden but you can use maple if you prefer)
50g dark brown sugar
225g lightly sweetened apple compôte (mine had some lumps but wasn’t really chunky. See Note 2 above.)
In a large bowl combine all the dry ingredients thoroughly.
Place all the wet ingredients in a separate bowl EXCEPT for the apple compôte and microwave for 1-2 minutes until the coconut oil has melted. Alternatively heat in a pan, stirring regularly so it doesn’t burn.
Stir in the apple compôte and then add the wet ingredients to the dry ones (don’t add the dried apple yet though) and make sure the mixture is thoroughly blended.
Spread it out onto one or two baking sheets. I lined mine with non-stick baking sheets.
Bake in a preheated oven at 160 C degrees fan (180 C degrees conventional oven) for about 45 minutes. It is likely to brown unevenly so make sure you gently stir it up every 10-15 minutes to stop the edges burning. Try not to break up too many of the chunks when doing this.
It should be darker when finished but not too brown, and bear in mind that it will also be soft straight from the oven but it will crisp up on cooling, so don’t be tempted to cook it further. Set the tray(s) aside on cooling racks and leave uncovered to cool.
When cold, chop the dried apple into small pieces and stir into the granola. If you made your own dried apple then make sure you only add totally dry pieces to your cereal as slices retaining moisture may make your granola soft. You may want to keep the dried apple separate and add it to each serving just before you eat it. If you do find the granola looses crispness then re-toast it for 5-10 minutes in a hot oven.
Store in an airtight container and enjoy it with yoghurt, milk, or even more apple purée (if you can take it).
Oh, and I had a reason other than apples to make this: I just bought a cereal container which I absolutely HAD to use straightaway. My life is full of excitement.
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