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Baking with Olive Oil: Granola and Beyond

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olive oil granola
Olive Oil Granola with Cherries and Pecans

I recently made this granola on my own blog, so naturally I was hesitant to write about it here. But you know what? Every time I crack open my jar of granola in the morning, I feel like singing from the rooftops. And I've made this recipe two additional times since writing about it, and have discovered a few tweaks and changes I'm excited to share with you. It's now utterly perfect.

Now, do you all remember the craze last fall when everyone was talking about the New York Times' Olive Oil Granola recipe? It seemed like food bloggers and food writers couldn't get enough. I began seeing it slowly pop up in little area cafes and my friend's mom made me a batch after a particularly hard week at work. I was hooked. But I never made the stuff on my own because I've always had a recipe I stick by. You know your old standards that you just can't cheat on? Yeah, that's my granola. The one I started making while living in Boulder, CO that uses orange juice for sweetener. Kind of a cliche (if you've ever visited Boulder, CO).

Then lately, I've noticed this resurgence of recipes calling for olive oil instead of butter or more traditional vegetable oil. It's obviously cool health-wise, but it also lends a very distinct flavor to baked goods that you just can't achieve another way. If you're making brownies or cakes with a distinct flavor, it doesn't really matter what type of olive oil you're using. In my humble opinion, it makes little sense to use your good stuff. However, for mildly flavored cakes or delicate cookies, I'd use a extra-light cold pressed olive oil--it's really perfectly suited for baking because it's relatively free of strong olive-oil aroma or flavor.

Now for some conversions so you can try experimenting with your favorite recipes at home. A few months ago, I visited We Olive in the Marina. They gave out a cool conversion chart to help clarify how to experiment with the new baking method. After much googling and light research, I realized there are differing opinions on these substitutions--like anything, experts like to weigh in with their tweaks and theories. But I've used the below conversion in my own baking numerous times and it seems to be the most popular out there. Like anything, experiment and find out what works for you.


granola ingredients
Laying out Ingredients for Olive Oil Granola

Butter/Margarine --> Olive Oil
1 tsp. ----> 3/4 tsp.
1 tbsp. ----> 2 1/4 tsp.
1/4 cup ----> 3 Tbsp.
1/3 cup ----> 1/4 cup
1/2 cup ----> 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp.
2/3 cup ----> 1/2 cup
3/4 cup ----> 1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp.
1 cup ----> 3/4 cup

So today I'm sharing with you my tested and tweaked recipe for the best granola you'll taste, and giving you a few other links for olive oil baking inspiration.

mixing granola

Olive Oil Granola with Cherries and Pecans
I like baking granola in a convection oven if you have access to one--makes for very even cooking and no little burnt bits around the edges. So for this recipe, I gave both conventional oven and convection oven cooking times. Feel free to play around with other dried fruits or nuts if you'd like. This recipe is forgiving that way.

3 cups rolled old-fashioned oats (not instant)
1 cup raw pecan halves
3/4 cup sliced, raw almonds
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup sweetened coconut
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup dried cherries
3/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cardamom

1. Preheat the convection oven to 275 or the standard oven to 300 F.
2. With the exception of the cherries, mix all the ingredients together in a big bowl and spoon out onto a large, rimmed baking sheet.
3. Bake:
Bake Times:
–Convection Oven: 35-40 minutes, stir every fifteen minutes.
–Standard Oven: 45 minutes, stir every ten minutes so granola doesn’t stick to the sides of the pan and burn.
4. Granola will be done when it’s golden brown and well toasted. Remove from the oven and stir in the dried cherries. Let cool completely. Serve with dollops of plain yogurt and fruit. Or whatever floats your boat.

Makes: 8-9 cups

Awesome Olive Oil Recipe Links
Olive Oil Ice Cream from The Kitchn (not technically baking...but so, so good)
Olive Oil Cookies from The New York Times
Olive Oil Brownies from Spoonful
Spelt Olive Oil Cake with Chocolate Chunks from Blue Ridge Baker
Apricot, Olive Oil, and Cornmeal Upside Down Cake from the L.A. Times

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