This is a recipe that I developed years ago (1995) when the chef (Peter Platt), at the country hotel (Wheatleigh: Lenox, MA) where I worked as the breakfast cook before later becoming the pastry chef, asked me to create a granola that they could put on the breakfast menu. The recipe has changed little since then and is now served at The Old Inn On The Green (owned by Chef Platt and his wife) in New Marlborough, MA and sold locally in the Berkshires. Many hundreds of pounds of granola later, here is the recipe. This recipe was inspired by and loosely adapted from a recipe in Mary Gubser's "Quick Breads, Soups, and Stews" (1991). —Shirl Gard
Pre-heat oven to 275° F (135° C). Line two half-sheet pans with parchment paper.
Mix first eight (dry) ingredients in an extra-large stainless steel bowl. Toss with your hands until well blended.
Blend canola oil, honey, and vanilla extract in a bowl or large 8-cup glass measuring cup, using a hand blender, until the liquids are completely emulsified.
Pour liquids over the dry ingredients and mix with your hands (wear vinyl gloves) until all of the dry ingredients are coated. It helps if you squeeze and rub the mixture between your hands. Add the nuts and rub them in until lightly covered with the liquids. If you like your granola chunky, put half of the mix into a Kitchen Aid mixer and mix on low speed #1 for two minutes, then combine with the balance of the granola. If you don't put in the mixer, the granola will be more granular. It's your choice.
Divide the granola between the two sheet pans and spread into an even layer in both pans.
BAKE @ 275° F (135° C) for 30 minutes, then stir and rotate the pans. Take the pans out of the oven and stir gently with a large spoon, pulling the granola away from the outside edges of the pans, then spreading out again.
Turn oven down to 250° (120° C) and bake another 30 minutes. Again, take pans out of oven and stir. Scatter the pumpkin seeds over the granola, roughly dividing between the two pans. Adding the pumpkin seeds after one hour of baking insures that they will retain their pretty green color.
Continue baking another 15 - 20 minutes, until golden brown and crisp. Total baking time: 1 hour 15 - 20 minutes. To test when the granola is done, take a small amount out of the oven and let cool a few minutes on the counter. Taste; it should be crisp and crunchy. If not, bake a few more minutes. Note: the granola will not be crunchy when it is hot.
Let cool in the pans 8 - 10 minutes, then gently break into chunks. Finish cooling.
When completely cool, transfer the granola to an extra-large stainless steel bowl. Add the dried fruit and mix well.
Store in an air-tight container at room temperature. The granola will keep up to two months.
If, for some reason, your granola gets soggy and is no longer crisp, you can put it back in a 250° F (135° C) for twenty minutes or so, just long enough to get it good and hot.