Granola is a bit like banana bread: there are a zillion different recipes out there, and many of them are good. But over time, you find that one recipe that checks all the boxes for you, and it becomes your house standard. This is mine. It’s my favorite because it’s crunchy, has clusters, and isn’t overly sweet. Paired with fresh berries and Greek yogurt, it’s one of my go-to quick breakfasts. But I’ve also been known to eat it by the handful for a mid-afternoon snack and sprinkle it on frozen yogurt for dessert.
The method and base recipe are from Tara O’Brady’s cookbook Seven Spoons. The original recipe calls for candied ginger and cacao nibs, which I omit (they sound delightful but aren’t normally stocked in my pantry). I’ve played around with different nuts and seeds, and the version below is what I typically use. But like most good granola recipes, this one is easily adaptable. Swap the sesame seeds out for flax or chia; use whatever nuts you have in stock; switch up the spices to suit your palate; omit the coconut if it’s not your thing.
Basic Granola Recipe
Adapted from Seven Spoons by Tara O’Brady | Makes about 8 1/2 cups
- 60g (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 100g (1/2 cup) packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 455g (5 cups) old-fashioned rolled oats
- 140g (1 1/2 cups) nuts, chopped if large (I like a mix of almonds, cashews, and walnuts)
- 65g (3/4 cup) unsweetened flaked coconut
- 35g (1/4 cup) sesame seeds
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 150g (1 cup) dried fruit, chopped if large (I usually use figs and/or raisins)
- 35g (1/4 cup) raw, hulled sunflower seeds
- 70g (1/2 cup) finely chopped candied ginger
- 70g (1/2 cup) raw pepitas
- Raw cacao nibs
- Preheat an oven to 325 degrees F (160 degrees C) with racks in the upper and lower thirds.
- In a saucepan set over medium heat, melt the butter into the olive oil and maple syrup. Add the brown sugar, water, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Cook, stirring often, until the brown sugar dissolves. Remove the saucepan from the heat, stir in the vanilla extract, and set aside to cool.
- In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, grind 2 cups (180 g) of the oats into flour. Transfer this oat flour to a large bowl. Stir in the remaining 3 cups (275 g) whole oats, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the nuts, coconut, seeds, and cinnamon. Pour the butter and sugar mixture over everything and stir to coat. Let stand for about 10 minutes, to give the oats the opportunity to lap up the sugar syrup.
- Line two half sheet pans or standard baking sheets with parchment paper. Using your hands, drop the oat mixture in clumps onto the pans, then bake in the preheated oven until dry, light golden, and evenly toasted, 40 to 50 minutes, gently stirring and turning the granola with a large spatula every 15 minutes or so and rotating the pans once from top to bottom and front to back.
- Remove from the oven and leave the granola on the pans. The granola will continue to crisp as it stands. After 5 minutes, stir in the candied ginger and pepitas (if using). Once the granola has cooled completely, stir in the dried fruit and the cacao nibs (if using).
- Transfer the granola to an airtight container and store at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
Scones are one of those coffeeshop items that I love to order but often find disappointing. Either they’re too cakey or over-the-top heavy. My ideal scone is crisp on the outside and tender on the inside, slightly sweet but able to withhold a generous amount of jam/curd/clotted cream. After yet another recent disappointing scone purchase, I decided it was time to scour the interwebs and find a go-to scone recipe for myself.
It’s not too often I succeed on the very first try, but, boy, were these good scones. I based them off the very well-reviewed Royal Wedding Scones on Food52. Lemon and raspberry is a favorite combination in this household, but you could easily change up the fruit and spices based on season and preference.
Scones are definitely best the day you make them (preferably while still a little warm from the oven), but you can freeze these unbaked and bake straight from frozen (you may need to add a few minutes of baking time). I’ve also had success freezing baked scones and reheating them in a 350F oven for 12-15 minutes or so.
Meyer Lemon and Raspberry Scones
Adapted from Food 52 | Makes 8
- 2 1/2 cups / 313g AP flour (I’ve successfully replaced about 1/3 of this with spelt flour)
- 1/4 cup / 50g granulated sugar
- 1 Tablespoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons / 86g chilled unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- 3/4 cup frozen raspberries
- Zest of 1 meyer lemon
- 1/2 cup cold heavy cream, plus more for brushing on tops of scones
- 1/2 cup cold buttermilk
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Coarse sugar, for sprinkling
- Line a 6-inch round cake pan with plastic wrap. Set aside.
- Put sugar and lemon zest in the bottom of a large bowl. Rub the zest into the sugar to release the oils.
- Add the remaining dry ingredients to the sugar-zest mixture and whisk to combine.
- Add the cold butter to the dry ingredients and cut it in using a pastry cutter or your fingers. You should have varying sizes of butter pieces, ranging from pea to nickel shaped.
- Gently fold in the frozen raspberries.
- Combine the wet ingredients in a small bowl and whisk well to combine. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, gently folding in with a fork. Do not overmix.
- When a shaggy dough begins to form, dump the contents onto a lightly floured surface. Gently fold the dough onto itself just enough so it becomes a cohesive mass. Transfer to the prepared cake pan, cover, and freeze for about 30 minutes or until slightly hardened.
- While scones are chilling, preheat oven to 425F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat. When scones are chilled, invert round onto a lightly floured surface and cut like a pie into eight wedges. Transfer to prepared sheet pan. Lightly brush the tops with cream and sprinkle with coarse sugar.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating pan halfway through. Scones are done when a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Lately I’ve been working a lot of early morning shifts, so I wanted to make something I could easily pack for breakfast. Bonus points for something that could be created from the contents of our fridge (and pantry). My default is our House Banana Bread, but I didn’t have any bananas and thought it would be fun to make something seasonal. BTW, I’m so excited for berry season! (One of the best parts of summer, IMO.)
The result was this Strawberry Yogurt Bread. Since this was envisioned as a breakfast bread, my goal was for something not too sweet and reasonably healthy (minimal oil/butter, some whole grains). I’m quite happy with how this turned out, and three days later it’s almost finished…so that’s that! Next time, I might try walnuts or pecans in place of the nuts, or swapping out the strawberries for blueberries or whatever berry is lurking in the fridge. We had a partial tub of sour cream in the fridge, so that got added in — but if you don’t have that lying around, I think you could easily add another 1/4 cup of oil or replace with more yogurt. Yay flexible recipes!
Strawberry Yogurt Bread
Makes 1 9×5 loaf
- 1/2 c plain Greek yogurt (I used fat free)
- 1/4 c sour cream
- 1/4 c vegetable oil
- 1/4 c granulated sugar
- 1/4 c dark brown sugar
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/3 c all purpose flour
- 2/3 c whole wheat flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. baking soda
- ½ tsp. salt
- 1 c strawberries, chopped
- 1 handful sliced almonds
- 1 Tbsp. Turbinado Sugar
- 1 strawberry, sliced
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- In a medium bowl, mix yogurt, sour cream, oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla extract until blended.
- In a separate bowl add flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix together.
- Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and slowly incorporate the yogurt mixture, being careful not to overmix.
- Fold in strawberries and almonds.
- Spoon batter into a greased and floured 9×5-inch loaf pan. The batter will be thick.
- Arrange sliced strawberry on top, and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
- Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack.
I have always been a breakfast person. I could eat eggs any time of the day; and toast and jam is one of my go-to snacks. But for a long time, I didn’t care much for pancakes, usually finding them too sweet and dense.
But for some reason, last year I decided it was time to find a pancake recipe I liked. My criteria: they had to be fluffy and simple.
This recipe is both those things, and has now become part of our recipe repertoire at home. There are only 5 ingredients, there’s no buttermilk involved, and you don’t have to let the batter sit before using. Most times we’ll whip these up on the weekend, but these pancakes also show up occasionally for dinner. Usually I like them plain with maple syrup, but we added bacon once and can’t say I wouldn’t do that again.
Favorite Fluffy Pancakes
Makes ~6 large / 12 small pancakes | Adapted from Jamie Oliver
- 3 large free-range eggs
- 115 g plain flour
- 1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
- 140 ml (scant 2/3 c) milk
- 1 pinch salt
- Separate the eggs, putting the whites into one bowl and the yolks into another.
- Add the flour, baking powder and milk to the yolks and mix to a smooth thick batter. Whisk the whites with the salt until they form stiff peaks. Fold into the batter – it is now ready to use.
- Heat a good non-stick pan on medium heat and add a bit of butter or cooking spray. Pour some of your batter into the pan and fry for a couple of minutes until it starts to look golden and firm. If desired, sprinkle your chosen flavoring (blueberries, bacon, bananas…whatever you like!) on to the uncooked side before loosening with a spatula and flipping the pancake over. Continue frying until both sides are golden. Continue with remaining batter, regreasing pan before each pancake.
My dad works in Chinatown in Seattle, and when my brothers and I were young he’d occasionally bring home a bright pink box filled with Asian bakery treats. These coconut buns (or gai mei bao) were always a family favorite. I’ve been searching for a recipe for awhile, and when I bit into one of these I knew I’d found it. The best part of gai mei bao is the buttery coconut filling, and this recipe doesn’t just nail the flavor — it allows for a generous amount in each bun. These buns are a great introduction to Asian baked goods; and even the non-coconut fans in my life gladly scarf these down.
There are a lot of steps to this recipe; don’t be intimidated! It all comes together quite easily in an afternoon. If you want to split up the work, make the dough on the first day and proof overnight in the fridge. Take out the dough about an hour before you want to wrap the buns so it can get to room temperature. During that time, make the filling and topping.
This recipe calls for a couple unusual ingredients (caster sugar and whole milk powder). I found everything I needed at Bulk Barn, though your local Asian market should also carry them. If you have difficulty locating caster sugar (which is basically superfine sugar — NOT powdered), you can whiz regular granulated sugar in the food processor for 10 seconds or so. This recipe also incorporates the tangzhong method, which involves cooking a portion of the flour with liquid in order to give the bread a longer-lasting soft texture. These buns keep well for a few days (I recommend microwaving a few seconds after the first day), and make a delicious breakfast alongside bacon and a cup of coffee.
(Note: I weigh my ingredients — highly recommended! — when making these buns, but have included approximate US equivalents below.)
Chinese Coconut Cocktail Buns (Gai Mei Bao)
Adapted from Christine’s Recipes
Makes 16 buns
Tangzhong Ingredients (will make a little more than needed for this recipe):
- 50gm / 1/3 c bread flour
- 250ml / 1 c water (could be replaced by milk, or 50/50 water and milk)
- In a small saucepan, slowly add liquid to flour and mix until smooth. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, whisk or spatula to prevent burning and sticking while you cook along the way.
- The mixture will gradually thicken. Once you notice some “lines” appearing in the mixture for every stir you make with the spoon, it’s done. Remove from heat.
- Transfer tangzhong to a clean bowl. Cover with a cling wrap sticking onto the surface of tangzhong to prevent from drying up. Let cool. The tangzhong can be used immediately once it cools down to room temperature. Leftover tangzhong can be stored in fridge for a few days. (Note: The chilled tangzhong should return to room temperature before adding into other ingredients.)
- 160 ml / 2/3 c milk, warmed (any kind will do)
- 1 egg, whisked
- 160 gm / 2/3 c tangzhong (for method, please see above)
- 6 gm / heaping 1 tsp salt
- 70 gm / 1/3 c caster sugar
- 10 gm / 2 tsp whole milk powder
- 360 gm / 3 c bread flour, plus more if needed
- 10 gm / 3 tsp active dry yeast
- 40 gm / 1.5 tbsp butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
- 180 gm / 13 tbsp butter, softened at room temperature
- 80 gm / 2/3 c caster sugar
- 50 gm / 1/2 c cake flour
- 60 gm / 4 tbsp milk powder
- 90 gm / 1 c unsweetened desiccated coconut
- 35 gm / 1/3 c cake flour
- 40 gm / 3 tbsp butter
- 20 gm / scant 1/8 c caster sugar
- 1 egg, whisked (with a splash of milk, optional)
- Sesame seeds for sprinkling on top, to taste
Sugar glaze (optional):
- 1 tbsp sugar + 1 tbsp water
- In a medium bowl, dissolve yeast in warm milk to activate. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt, and milk powder.
- Once the yeast is active and bubbly, add egg and tangzhong and stir to combine.
- Make a well in the middle of your dry ingredients. Slowly add the wet to the dry ingredients, incorporating with a spatula or wooden spoon. Dough will be sticky at first. Once in a cohesive ball, add melted butter. Knead until dough becomes smooth and soft, yet pliable (~8 – 10 minutes). If the dough is too sticky and will not come together, add additional flour a couple teaspoons at a time until it does.
- Cover dough with cling wrap or a linen towel and set aside in a warm area until doubled in size (or proof in the refrigerator overnight).
- While dough is proofing, make filling and topping (see below).
- Transfer proofed dough to a clean floured surface. Gently deflate and divide the dough into 16 equal portions. Form into ball shapes. Cover with cling wrap and let rest for 15 minutes.
- Roll or press out each portion of the dough into an oval shape. Place a portion of filling in the middle of the oval lengthwise. Fold the bottom third up over the filling, then fold the top third down over the other layers (like a letter). Pinch seam closed. Turn bun over and tuck the ends underneath, pinching to seal.
- Transfer bun to a parchement lined baking tray with seam facing down. Repeat this step with the remaining dough portions and fillings. Cover with a plastic wrap and let them proof for about 45 to 60 minutes, or until doubled in size.
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Lightly brush whisked egg on the surface of each dough. Pipe two lines of toppings and sprinkle some sesame seeds. Baked for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown. About 5 minutes before finished, remove from oven and brush tops carefully with sugar glaze, if desired. Return to oven. Remove from the oven and brush on a second coat of sugar glaze. Let cool on a wire rack. Enjoy!
- Combine the butter and sugar well. Sift in in milk powder, cake flour, and coconut. Mix to combine.
- Form filling mixture into a long tube. Divide into 16 equal portions. Set aside. (I like to put in the fridge while dough is proofing to make it easier to handle.)
- Mix the softened butter with sugar well. Sift in the cake flour and combine well.
- Transfer into a ziplock bag and snip off a corner. Pipe over the tops of buns after egg wash.