Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Crunch time

Only two days remaining to hit the shops before the big day is upon us... But that doesn't have to mean fighting your way through the smellies section at Selfridges. As well as my Christmas Chutney, this year, I'm also filling my stockings with cereal, so to speak. My very own granola.

All the ingredients are available in supermarkets, health food shops, and lots of local convenience stores. I got mine from the very lovely Unpackaged in Clerkenwell, where you get good products, a strong dose of nostalgia (great at this time of year), and a warm sense of ethical well being all thrown in to the deal. Definitely beats braving the crowds on Oxford Street.

Christmas Granola

I used Bill Granger's recipe for cinnamon crunch muesli as the basis for this, and so far it's worked out really well. Aside from the cranberries the key addition is candied clementines. You might be able to buy these in some shops, but even if not, they're simple to make, although you need to do so in advance. If you make extra, you can use them to infuse cream for home-made truffles, decorate cakes or tarts, dip in chocolate as festive treats, or just hang them on your tree.

All the rich flavours of the dried fruit, nuts and spices make this granola great sprinkled over yogurt, poached fruits, or even ice cream, although unless you wake up very hungry - unlikely at this time of year - you'll do well to manage a whole bowl full for breakfast. As with many of these seasonal recipes, it also fills the house with wonderful scents of Christmas as you're baking...

Makes enough for 15 or more small servings

For the candied clementines
100g caster sugar
2 clementines, cut into thin (3mm) slices

a handful cloves

For the granola
125g unsalted butter
40g dark brown sugar

2 tsp honey
2 tsp cinnamon

half a nutmeg, grated
300g rolled oats
a handful flaked almonds

a handful pumpkin seeds
150g mixed nuts - brazils, walnuts, hazelnuts, etc, roughly chopped

75g dried cranberries
75g dried sultanas

First, make the candied clementine; ideally you want to leave these to dry out over night, so do this the day before if you remember. Make a stock syrup by dissolving the sugar in enough water to cover by twice the volume, and bring to the boil. I also added half a dozen cloves to infuse as it was heating. Reduce the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Slice your clementines, removing any pips as you go. Remove from the heat, and add the orange slices to your syrup, and leave them to soak for ten minutes. Preheat the oven to 50 degrees C.

Remove, and place on a baking tray, lined with baking parchment. Stud a few cloves in each slice, then leave to dry out in the oven for a good few hours, as long as you can really. Switch the oven off, and leave it over night. Remove the cloves, and cut each slice into four or more pieces.

Pre heat the oven to 160 degrees C. Melt the butter, sugar, honey, cinnamon, and nutmeg together in a large pan. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat, and add the oats, seeds, almond flakes and nuts. Stir well so everything is coated with a slight gloss from the butter.

Transfer to a baking try lined with parchment, and spread out evenly. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes, stirring once or twice, and checking it's doneness as you go. When it starts the oats start to go golden brown, it's ready. Remove from the oven, stir in the clementine pieces, cranberries and sultanas, and leave to cool completely before storing. It'll keep in an air tight container for a good couple of weeks.

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