On 31st March 1979, my parents got married. One year later they returned home from work, tired and late, to discover a small pile of envelopes inside the front door. It was their first year anniversary and, while a few friends and family had posted little notes and celebratory letters, the pair of them had completely forgotten.
Until today, I thought this was unlikely to ever happen to me. I’m organised and I’m excitable, two traits which mean that when it comes to birthdays, anniversaries and celebrations, I’m always in there early. You know the girl who complains that her boyfriend completely forgot her birthday/Valentine’s Day/insert any other day designed to make our men look bad? Not me. I’m the one reminding him at least three weeks in advance then gleefully (and noisily) counting down to the celebrations day by day.
Except that this weekend I totally failed to mark the second birthday of this little baking blog. Oops.
In my defence, we were away watching a (seriously fantastic – even if I’m biased – book tickets) show my brother had directed. In between being a very proud little sister, travelling to and from Manchester and inhaling spoonfuls of caramelized white chocolate (ok, so I managed to do a little bit of baking, maybe I can blame all that sugar for making me forget the date in question?), there wasn’t a lot of time to think about things like blog birthdays. So here I am, six days later, without a sumptuous candle-covered cake or epic bake in sight.
What I do have to share is a simple batch of granola I baked up on Tuesday evening. My go-to breakfast at the moment is a sort of bircher muesli involving oats soaked in apple juice, but it’s a little too liquid to safely pack in my bag for mornings when I go to the gym. Granola mixed with yoghurt and fruit is a good alternative, but after running out of this homemade chunky granola, I began to wonder whether an apple juice-sweetened version might just be the perfect bridge between the two.
When we were little my Mum always used to put tahini in her flapjacks. Since granola is essentially bits of flapjack crisped and crumbled and reinvented as a ‘healthy’ breakfast, I thought it could stand up to the same ingredients. A quick google confirmed that tahini granola does indeed already exist. Because of tahini’s viscous, seedy (in the nicest possible way) qualities, I omitted any oil altogether and the clumps crisped up beautifully (any amount of crunch lost being next to negligible).
So to celebrate turning two, here’s an oil, butter and refined sugar-free granola, sweet with fruit juice and stirred through with nutty tahini and crunchy seeds. It’s hardly the fully blown sugar, butter and flour-filled bonanza I might have otherwise planned for a second birthday, but I suppose it’s very honest. Plus there are plenty more reasons to be celebrating in 2013 and I promise it won’t be long before I find an excuse to wheel out the richest, most indulgent recipes you can imagine.
Without making this sound like the Oscars, I couldn’t end this post with a really quick thank you. For continuing to visit my little space on the internet. For taking the time to comment. For sending me your incredible, amazing (and sometimes slightly strange) requests and photos. And for making me excited about what the next two years (and more) have in store.
Naturally Sweetened Sesame Tahini Granola
125ml cloudy pressed apple juice
75ml maple syrup
2 tbsp tahini
2 tsp vanilla extract
250g rolled oats
60g pumpkin seeds
25g sesame seeds
2 tsp flax seeds
Preheat the oven to 150 degrees C. Line two baking trays with parchment.
In a small bowl, mix together the apple juice, maple syrup and tahini. Stir in the vanilla extract and salt.
In a separate bowl, combine the oats, nuts and seeds. Pour over the liquid ingredients and mix to combine. Spread in a thin layer on the baking sheets and bake for forty minutes, stirring every fifteen minutes or so to ensure that the mixture bakes evenly.
Remove from the oven and break into clumps of your desired size (I like it chunky). The granola may feel a little soft but don’t worry, it will crisp as it cools. When still slightly warm, stir in the raisins then leave to cool completely.
Store in an airtight container for up to one month. If you can make it last that long.