This post is supposed to be about angel food cake covered with a blueberry and raspberry coulis. The cake is supposed to be resting on a white porcelain plate with a huge tuft of whipped cream beside it. I wanted to be festive.
The cake was eaten yesterday and none remains for photos. Even so, I would not have debuted the thing. It was a recipe full of frustration: from the tidbits of yolk that escaped my fingertips and sullied the bowl of oozy whites, to the 1/4 cup of sugar that fluttered out of the wrong side of the sifter as I was gently ’dusting’ it into a bowl with my left hand, while trying to enliven temperamental peaks with my right. The disaster ended when I discovered that the bottom of my cake pan had several lumps and corrugations, which resulted in the ooze oozing into the oven. Drip, drip, drip.
So I dumped it–not gently–into a regular old cake pan, figuring it might taste like some kind of sponge cake. I knew it would be less than stellar given the roughness with which it had been treated at the end–the recipe I used warned (several times) that the cake must be treated with the utmost delicacy. Not surprisingly, the cake was not as sky-high angelic as it aspired to be. But it wasn’t bad either. And the whipped cream had me licking the beater spokes. The coulis, though, was not even attempted: the blueberries were simply too good on their own.
But I had to create something red and white and bluish to share for the holiday (a funny compunction for someone who finds time to blog once every few months) but I was not prepared to face down a dozen egg whites and my hand mixer again this morning for a daytime photo shoot. It had to be simpler. Fortunately, one can stick some red and blue berries into something, especially this time of year. Ta-da! Festive granola. But please don’t mistake the berries for a pathetic stab at festivity. Especially not if it means risking the integrity of this recipe. This granola is really special, and it showcases two of Americas best foods, I think: peanut butter and maple syrup.
Let me take this moment to make a somewhat bashful admission: I hate recipes. I am an improvisational cook. I can barely bake something according to directions, always feeling a need to add a dash or this or that, or to adjust the timing to the particularities of my oven. (Which I’ve come to suspect are actually simply particularities of my own restless imagination.) As someone who loves good food and wants to share all of the things I found so delightful about it, I feel compelled to provide reliable recipes for visitors of this site. But I’m a sham because I tend to use recipes as blueprints only. Even my own. So I hope you use the recipe below as an outline for your own batch of this amazing breakfast. I think you’ll find it increasingly delightful–especially the idiosyncrasies of its recreation.
One final note about this granola. In addition to being an excellent breakfast, which stays with you well until lunch, it is also a useful afternoon snack. It’s the kind of food that makes me understand the British need for strawberries and cream or scones at 4pm. It shares the formula: a bit of good dairy, some digestible carbohydrate and a spot of sweet fruit. But in the name of our country’s preoccupation with health, I do think this is a good enough way to celebrate our independence. Cheers!
PB & Maple Granola
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Melt 1 stick butter with1/2 cup of organic peanut butter. (Peanuts go moldy fast! organic is important–it will keep you from rot and unpronounceable fats.)
When fats are liquified, add 1 cup of maple syrup, adding more if you like sweet granola.
Pour mixture over a large bowl full of about 6 cups of rolled oats (Quick cooking are fine, but not instant.)
Bake for 10 minutes then stir, repeating this two times, or until granola turns golden.
Add 1 1/2 c chopped walnuts, or other nut and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
If granola are the color of your liking, remove them from the oven and stir in 1 1/2 c of dried fruit (I like cherries best).
Allow granola to cool before transferring to a jar or other container–this will keep it from getting soggy.