Granola isn’t really a big thing in Australia. Muesli is, though. I wasn’t really sure what the difference was until I tried to make some.
Apparently muesli tends to be made with raw or unprocessed grains, and have the majority of its sweetness come from dried fruit. Granola is bound with sweeteners (and usually fat), and so can be either more chewy or crunchy than muesli, but definitely sweeter. So, I guess muesli bars are as close as we get to granola without being accused of becoming Americanised.
Not that there’s anything wrong with being Americanised. In fact, my favourite dessert ever is apple pie with ice cream. So I decided to create that in muesli bar (or granola) form!
Apple Pie Muesli Bars (Granola)
Makes 24 small bars
20 minutes preparation time, 40 minutes cooking time
Adapted from Alton Brown Granola Bars recipe
225 grams rolled oats (not instant)
135 grams mixed seeds or nuts (for this recipe, sunflower seeds and sliced almonds)
45 grams wheat germ
180 ml honey (about 1/3 cup)
50 grams dark brown sugar
30 grams unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon powder
180 grams dried fruit (for this recipe, 150 grams dried apple, 30 grams cranberries)
Put the oats, nuts and wheat germ on the widest, flattest baking tray you have, and mix them together. When the oven is hot enough, bake them for 15-30 minutes until they are toasty brown and smelling delicious. Remember to stir them around every 10 minutes so they don’t burn.
Heat the honey, sugar and salt in the small saucepan until everything melts together, then turn off the heat. Add the vanilla and cinnamon, then stir so you don’t have any clumps.
I’d suggest using the most interesting honey you can get – the first time I made this recipe, I used an orange blossom honey that we got at the Inverloch Farmer’s Market, and I can still remember how light and flowery it tasted. Regular honey blends are fine, but the flavour really comes through in this recipe, so why not try something a little different?
Line your second baking tray with a very, very generous amount of baking paper. Ideally, you should have enough so you don’t need to grease the tray. Definitely err on the side of having too much paper rather than skimping, you’ll see why in a minute.
If you need to, chop the fruit into small pieces, about 1-2cm. You can cut larger chunks, but this might make slicing the bars difficult later on. If you’re intending to just leave the mixture chunky, cut them into bite-size pieces. If you’re using more than one type of fruit, mix them together now.
Add the fruit mixture to the toasted oats, and then pour the honey mixture over that. Working quickly (but carefully, things are hot!), mix everything together. It will be sticky, and will probably look like it won’t be enough moisture to bind everything, but just keep going.
I find that a strong, folding motion with a wide spatula works best to mix things without flinging stuff all over the counter.
Once everything is moistened, pour the mix into the prepared baking tray. Use the spatula to try to get it as evenly spread as you can, pushing the mix to the edges and corners of the tray.
By this time, the mix should have cooled enough for you to use the excess baking paper (see?) to help flatten the mix into the tray. You want it to be uniformly flat, but don’t worry too much about pressing it down so it becomes a brick.
Bake at 150C for 40 minutes, until it is even more toasty brown. The surface may still be soft and a bit springy, but that’s okay.
Take it out, and let it cool completely on a rack before cutting. This can take at least an hour, so be patient! If it’s still warm when you cut, it’ll stick to your knife really badly, so save yourself the heartache.
If you want to keep them in bar form, use muffin or cupcake liners to stop them sticking to each other, and store in an air-tight container. They might keep longer a week, but that’s usually about as long as they’ve lasted in our house…
Any loose bit and pieces can be stored in a ziplock bag, and turned into crunchy granola by blasting it in a toaster oven for a couple of minutes. If you don’t have a toaster oven, break the muesli up into large chunks, spread on a baking tray, and bake at 180C for five minutes.
Just by themselves, or crumbled over some yoghurt, I don’t really mind what these things call themselves. They’re worth the effort, and endlessly flexible with the type of nuts, seeds or fruit you choose to use. Yay!
Do you prefer muesli or granola? What’s your favourite flavour addition to them?