One a penny, two a penny hot cross buns. Yep, it’s that time of the year again. Easter’s just around the corner and everyone’s excited about the long weekends and good food. The chocolate, the bunny shaped treats and of course the traditional hot cross buns. Filled with dried fruit, big juicy raisins, and all finished off with the perfect amount of spice. They’re warming, sweet and always taste best toasted with a light slather of butter.
Since my oven broke I’ve been living every food lover’s worst nightmare. I’ve not been able to make some of my favourite treats, and for me, that definitely includes granola. I always make sure that I have a big batch made up, ready to keep me going when hunger calls. But, with no means to bake any, I had to go looking elsewhere and find some sort of alternative. That’s how I discovered my love of rawnola. A completely raw (i.e. no baked) granola made from only a few simple ingredients. I couldn’t believe just how tasty rawnola is, and how simple it is to make.
I’ve tried all different flavour combinations, but this one is definitely my favourite; lightly flavoured with desiccated coconut and a pinch of cinnamon. It really does taste like an oat cookie! With that in mind, it’s really important to mention that although it is a granola alternative, the texture couldn’t be more different. This doesn’t come out anything like a crunchy, traditional granola. Instead, the dates make it a lot softer and give it a more sticky texture; much more like a healthy cookie dough than a traditional granola.
This has to be one of my most cooked recipes, I make it at least once a week. In fact, I make it so often that I just do everything by eye now; throw in a bit of this and bit of that without following any measurements or instructions. This is also why it was one of my hardest recipes to write; actually thinking about what goes into the compote and what happens during the cooking process was a lot trickier than it sounds. But the end result was so worth it! A sweet puree bursting with big chunks of fruit… every bit as delicious as it sounds.
Cooking apples are the main base of this recipe, they really help to thicken the whole thing up and, in my opinion, taste best when left a little chunky. But, from here you can pretty much add whatever fruit you like: strawberries, rhubarb, pears, plums… the possibilities are endless! You can use fresh or frozen fruit (I normally use frozen because it’s a lot cheaper but it’s also a great way to use up any mushy, overripe fruit).
After you’ve added all of your fruit, add a splash of liquid to cover the bottom of the pan. Plain water works well, but I sometimes like to add a dash of store-bought juice or smoothie to add a little more flavour. Sprinkle either a bit of sugar or a squeeze of maple syrup to help reduce the tartness of the fruit – this is especially important if your using naturally bitter fruit like rhubarb! Now all that’s left to do is let it all simmer down to a juicy fruit puree. Once cooked, this can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for about a week.
I love adding this to yogurt, porridge, overnight oats or pretty much anything. It’s delicious and so easy to make!
If you had to name your most used ingredient, what would it be? For me, it’s oats. I use them all the time and have them in some form or the another pretty much every day. I love using them in little treats like flapjacks and cookies, and in snacks to power me through the day, like my tropical treats or date bites. And I love using them to make a crunchy topping for my crumble for a delicious dessert.
But, in my eyes breakfast is where this ingredient really gets a chance to shine. Whether it’s a big bowl of homemade muesli or granola; which are both guaranteed to keep you full all morning, thanks to the oats slow release energy. Or porridge, who doesn’t love porridge?! I don’t think anything can beat a warm, steaming bowl of oats on a cold winter morning. Or my newest obsession…
I love making my own granola, it’s a lot simpler than it may seem and always tastes so good fresh out of the oven. When the syrups still slightly sticky and the oats are all toasty and warm; it’s like enjoying a freshly baked oat cookie! And that is kind of what inspired this recipe – I wanted to create a festive granola which tasted like a gingerbread cookie.
To get the ‘gingerbread’ flavours I’ve used a combination of ground cinnamon, ginger and cloves. These spices add the most delicious warming flavour which help to make it feel like you’re having a piece of gingerbread cookie with every bite. I’ve used these in moderation as I didn’t want anything too overpowering for breakfast but feel free to alter the measurements if you prefer a stronger taste. The same goes if you’d prefer to tone it down – cooking is all about personal preferences!
Whenever I cook granola, I always use a mixture of coconut oil, maple syrup and date syrup as my liquid. They aren’t greasy and help to add a good flavour to the base, but are still subtle enough to allow you to flavour the mixture without issues. The stickiness of the date syrup helps to bind the oats together making it super crunchy. If, like me you love crunchy clusters of granola, I’ll let you into a little secret… to get super crunchy granola clusters just leave it to sit for a while once you remove it from the oven. Try not to touch it too much, instead let it cool all the way down. This will stop it breaking apart. And, once cooled, you should be left with big scrumptious slabs of crunchy oaty goodness!
Lightly spiced and super crunchy, this is the perfect festive breakfast. Enjoy it with milk or sprinkled on top of some yogurt.
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