NEWS: major culinary breakthrough has been achieved. I've made clumpy, cluster-y granola without adding a bajillion sticks of butter or raw eggs or the like. The feeling of accomplishment and discovery I have at this moment is quite high, and I'd like to pass it on.
I realize that discovering a neat, easy way to make clumpier granola isn't exactly doing God's work or anything, but stick with me here. My granola trials and travails are long and varied, and this is an important development.
Let me clarify my stance on granola: I'm fairly selective about what I like, and most grocery store granolas are way too fussy. I don't need a "flavored granola" like cherry chocolate or vanilla almond macaroon. I certainly don't want it to sound, or taste, like a dessert.
Homemade granola is ridiculously simple to make, and you can customize it just the way you like it. Even decent store-bought granolas usually have one thing I'd change (such as skipping the raisins or adding more nuts or upping the spice), but if you make it yourself, you're in control. You like being in charge right? Great. Me too. (If only life was as malleable as granola-making! But I digress.)
Now, onto the question of clumps. I'm happy to eat granola that is less clumpy and more cereal-like in texture, but clumpy granola is ideal. It's easier to eat on the go with your fingers (perfect hiking food), and it has a more satisfying crunch.
There are other ways to achieve clumpier granola. You can add more fat (in the form of butter or oil). If you're shooting for a somewhat healthy result, you can add some other binder, like an egg white or applesauce.
Here's the sneakier, way more excellent method: oat flour. Take any granola recipe. Grind up to half of the amount of oats in a food processor or blender until they resemble flour. Now mix this oat flour into your dry ingredients, and proceed with the recipe.
The oat flour mixed with liquid creates a coating that clings to the dry ingredients and clumps them together, creating an excellent crisp texture. Rather than large clumps, you get little clusters of oats and nuts coated in crispy oat flour.
Be aware: If you want serious clumps, you'll still need to choose a recipe with more liquid and oil, or add another binder like applesauce, as discussed above. The granola pictured here has very little oil (only a scant 3/4 cup for 6 cups of oats) and not much liquid sweetener (maple syrup), so the clumps are small and humble (but mighty!).
Try this! It's really clever, and I love that it doesn't require adding an extra ingredient that otherwise has no business being in your cereal. Tapping the rolled oats to play double-duty in a single recipe is brilliant and I thank the wide, wise world of the internet for the inspiration.
6 cups rolled oats
1 cup slivered almonds (or other nuts)
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
3/4 cup coconut oil
3/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Vietnamese cinnamon
1 cup dried mulberries
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
In a food processor or blender, pulse 1 1/2 cups of the oats into a fine flour.
In a large bowl, mix together the ground oats, the rest of the rolled oats, almonds, coconut, salt, and cinnamon. Add the coconut oil and maple syrup and mix well to combine.
Divide the mixture evenly between two baking sheets and spread it in a thin layer.
Bake the granola for 20-30 minutes, stirring the granola every 10 minutes so that the edges don't burn. Remove it from the oven when the coconut and nuts are golden brown. Let cool fully, and then mix in the dried mulberries.