Inspired by conversations on the Food52 Hotline, we're sharing tips and tricks that make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more fun.
Today: Stop ripping apart entire bags of granola just to get your hands on the crunchy nuggets.
There are two types of granola eaters.
The first type of people want to be able to run their hands through granola like it's silky-smooth hair. These people want the oats to fall through their fingers like millions of grains of sand, leaving no chunks or lumps behind.
The second type search for granola clumps like they're hidden treasures. These are the people who prefer granola that's a close cousin to cookies; these are the people who are smart enough to buy Just Bunches.
For those of you who live for the clusters, it's time to stop ripping apart entire bags just to get your hands on the crunchy nuggets. We're going to show you how to make your own oaty bunches at home.
Here's how you get the ultimate clumpy, clustery, chunk-full granola:
1. Add egg whites.
Make a batch of your favorite granola and then put an egg in it.
But really, add a beaten egg white -- make sure it's foamy and frothy -- to your granola after you've mixed it all together. The protein in the egg will help bind the oats together, creating addictive morsels. (Shhh: it's the secret to Deb Perelman's Big Cluster Maple Granola.)
2. Low oven temperature and minimal stirring.
No-stir method: For extreme cluster hoarders, follow an easy no-stir method. First, spread the oat mixture onto a rimmed baking sheet that is greased or lined with parchment paper. Bake for 30 or 40 minutes -- at a low temperature (about 325° F), rotating once halfway through -- or until the granola is lightly browned. Resist the urge to stir! Once the granola is out of the oven, let it cool completely before breaking it into clusters. It's important that the temperature of the oven is low -- otherwise, your unstirred granola might burn.
Overnight granola: Alternatively, bake the granola for 10 minutes at a higher temperature -- 375° F -- then turn off the oven and leave the granola in overnight. You'll end up with clusters like you've never seen them before.
3. Choose your oats carefully: Many recipes call for old-fashioned oats, but the great popularity of the The Lip Lady's Secret Granola proves that old-fashioned is not always best. Using quick oats means more clusters, quicker cooking time, and a lighter, crunchier texture. Grind half of the quick oats to a fine powder in the food processor, then mixed them with the other ingredients. The oat powder will help everything come together into your beloved clusters.
One final granola-maker pro tip: If you're using dark baking sheets, decrease the baking time to avoid burning your batch.