As soon as the calendar flips to October, this is the first recipe I crave. To be honest, I’d like to enjoy this granola year round but I save it for autumn to keep it special. This recipe does not include pumpkin, I named it this because these are the same spices used in my Mom’s famous pumpkin chiffon pie.
Granola is comfort food for me. I fondly remember pouring my Dad a bowl for his breakfast (obviously, appropriating the biggest, nuttiest clump for myself.) My Mom would make granola into a treat by scattering it over vanilla ice cream and then dousing it all with maple syrup. Mmmm… that was so good; I want a bowl of that right now. Most commonly, today, I use the granola to make yogurt parfaits, and I’ll sprinkle it over oatmeal to add some texture.
My sentiment for that store-bought granola remains, and I would definitely steal a handful if the box was out at my parent’s house, but I now prefer to make my granola from scratch.
What goes in granola?
Basic sweet granola is so simple to make: always oats, in almost any form; a sweetener/sticky-maker; some oil; some flavour (even just salt); nuts and/or seeds; dried fruit if you’re into that kind of thing; and any other goodies you might like.
I use old-fashioned rolled oats in this recipe because I like the oats to have a substantial presence in granola, they are the main ingredient after all. The crispy rice cereal brings a nice lightness and crunch to the heavier fall flavours. Pepitas scream autumn to me so they’re a given, and I think sunflower seeds and pepitas are best friends so they have to be together. Include flaxseeds for the “healthy” factor. Pecans seem obviously necessary. Maple syrup and brown sugar bring the depth and sweetness while the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and salt bring the warmth and flavour. (The oil is not included in the photo above because, quite frankly, it wasn’t pretty, and I liked the photo with nine dishes the best.) #inreallife
This is a sizeable recipe so you’ll need a big bowl for all of the dry ingredients, and two baking pans. It produces enough granola so you can enjoy it with your sweeties every day for a good couple of weeks.
What makes granola clump?
You need a small saucepan for the wet ingredients, the one used here is 1.5 quarts. I like to warm the brown sugar, oil, spices, and syrup so that the sugar completely dissolves and I can be sure all the flavours are distributed throughout. Don’t forget about it, it can start to bubble up like a caramel. If you get to that point, it’s done.
There are two tricks to getting clumpy granola, the first is the amount of maple syrup (or honey) and sugar in a recipe, the more you have, the stickier it will be. The second is how you handle the granola after you mix the dry and wet ingredients, once it’s spread out on the parchment paper tamp it down with your wooden spoon and only mix it once mid-bake, then tamp it down again, and don’t jostle it around again until it has cooled completely.
The aroma from this granola is so good, so rich, it’ll make the house smell like Thanksgiving day.
Also, take a moment to listen to the granola when it comes out of the oven. The crispy rice cereal will serenade you with familiar sounds.
Adapted from Canadian Living Pumpkin Pie Granola.
Pumpkin Spiced Granola
- ⅓ cup brown sugar, packed
- ⅓ cup vegetable oil
- ⅓ cup maple syrup
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¾ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- 2 cups crispy rice cereal
- 1 cup pepitas
- ¾ cup pecans, rough chopped and whole
- ⅓ cup roasted, unsalted, shelled sunflower seeds
- 3 tablespoons flaxseeds
- Arrange oven racks to top and bottom thirds of the oven. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a small saucepan add the brown sugar, oil, maple syrup, salt, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves; cook over medium heat, stirring a few times, until sugar is dissolved, about three minutes. Cool.
- While the wet ingredients are melting together, in a large bowl, stir together oats, cereal, pepitas, pecans, sunflower seeds, and flaxseeds.
- Pour the brown sugar mixture over the oat mixture and stir; ensure it is thouroughly combined.
- Divide the mixture between the two baking sheets, spread evenly, tamp down.
- Bake for 20 minutes total, switching and rotating pans halfway through and stirring once. After you stir the granola around, tamp it down again to preserve clumps.
- Remove from oven when granola has lightly browned and looks toasted. Cool. Do not touch and let cool completely for clumps.
- Granola will keep in air-tight container for up to 3 weeks.