Peach pecan granola takes summer peaches
and turns them into wonderfully crunchy, clumpy granola.
Reminiscent of peach pie, but not quite as peachy.
For those that have stuck around to read my blog for at least a year, NMC may sound familiar. National Music Camp of Canada (aka band camp) is where I’ve spent the last week or two of summer, year after year since I was 12. Filled with happy memories, music, unrequited love (because it’s band camp and I was an awkward nerd), and the best friends a band geek could ask for, NMC was a second home to me. This year is the first year that I spent in the outside world, knowing I won’t ever be back.
I won’t be waking up and making my way across the field to flagpole in the morning. I won’t be sitting in the musty dining hall, sitting amongst my friends, and over the last 7 years, my own campers. I won’t ever spend each night listening to professional musicians casually perform challenging classical or jazz pieces and listen to it float across the lake. That chapter of my life is closed now. I did that thing where I grew up and had to stay in the real world—where there are hours to be worked, bills to be paid, and responsibilities to be upheld.
Every summer, August was just epic. My birthday came mid-month and usually marked the beginning of camp. As an August baby, I spent a large majority of my birthdays only with a small group of friends, since most of my friends were gone on family vacations just before school started up again. But once I started to work at NMC, every year, my birthday was met with 50-80 amazing musicians to sing me Happy Birthday in sweet harmony. I will forever miss my camp birthdays, I’ll miss giving my girls hugs every night before they go to bed, and I’ll miss my big NMC family.
However, not all my favourite memories of NMC will be lost. I loved ending every summer with a dose of nature. Campfires would permeate my clothes and made me smell like smoke and marshmallows the next day. No light pollution or no honking cars and sirens that pierce through the night. Gorgeous starry nights and the smell of damp forest reset my body like clockwork, reminding me that it’s time to start anew.
This year, my old roommate (who I worked with at NMC), invited me and a few other musician friends up to camp in Magnetawan. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. We spent a weekend camping in the woods, jamming on ukulele by the campfire, and watching the full moon shine brightly between the trees over our picnic table. Since there isn’t a dining hall or a kitchen crew to cook us meals every day (let alone vegan meals), I had to experiment with some granola to keep me satiated in the mornings.
I toyed with different textures of granola: thin and confetti-like vs chunky. Confetti-style granola meant that each ingredient had crisped up with a general sweet flavouring, but they were all individual and frankly difficult to eat out of hand. While my experiment with granola wasn’t exactly what I wanted, it was still pretty delicious. I learned that I much prefer clumps of crunchy granola, with some oats, some sort of nuts or seeds, and a sweet, crisp binder that just marries it all together. I recently discovered that I am in fact, not allergic to peaches, so I went a little peach crazy. I pureed a handful of peaches, tossed some cinnamon, ginger, and sugar into a pot to melt down and pour over oats, pepitas, and pecans.
I discovered my fool-proof way to get gorgeous clumps of granola:
However, if you are lazy and want confetti-like granola, you can do one solid baking session with some stirring in between to even out the mixture and give it room to breathe. But for clumps of gloriously crunchy granola, bake as one big slab for about 40 minutes, let cool, break up into clumps, then bake again for that second crisp. Believe me, it’s worth the second bake. I demolished my first batch of this clumpy granola in 3 days (and it’s a lot of granola).
I have a lot of different ideas for granola now that I’ve got this clumpy granola down pat. I have lots of ideas of granola to make for the next time I go camping. I can’t wait to spend a few days out in nature with my wonderful NMC family, star gazing, laughing and making ridiculous jokes, gossiping about camp drama, and just being with awesome people. It’s something I would look forward to every year, and hopefully is something I can keep doing year after year.
To camp. To nature. To extremely satisfying crunchy clumps of granola.
- 4 cups old fashioned whole oats*
- 1 1/2 cups raw pecan pieces
- 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
- 3 medium peaches, peeled and pureed (about 1 heaping cup of peach purée)
- 3/4 cup natural cane sugar (or white sugar)
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Preheat oven to 325ºF(160ºC).
- In a large mixing bowl, toss together oats, raw pecans, and raw pumpkin seeds.
- Score an X on the bottom of the peaches, and blanch them in boiling water for 2 minutes and remove. Peel away skin, half and remove the pits. Purée in the blender, then transfer to a small pot over medium heat. Cook the purée until it's reduced and thickened, about 5-7 minutes. The purée will darken to a deeper golden colour.
- Add the natural sugar, brown sugar, coconut oil, cinnamon, ginger, and salt and stir until the coconut oil is melted.
- Pour the mixture over the oat mixture and stir until evenly coated. Transfer to a lined baking sheet (I used a silpat but you can use parchment paper) and spread evenly.
- If you love a confetti-style of granola, go nuts and stir as you please. Bake for about 30-40 minutes (stirring intermittently) until it's golden and it starts to sound dry when as you're moving it around the sheet. The granola will bake faster if you stir. Don't be discouraged if it doesn't seem to crisp up. As long as it's golden in colour, as it cools it'll crisp up nicely.
- For clumpier granola, avoid the temptation to stir the granola. Bake it first for 40 minutes, remove from the oven and let cool. Gently break up into clumps, and then bake again for another 20 minutes until golden crisp.
- Either way you bake it, let cool completely, and transfer to an airtight container. Eat within the week over yogurt, with a splash of soy milk, or just munch on it out of hand for a crunchy yet filling snack.
To make this gluten-free, ensure that you're using GF certified oats—oats that have been processed in a facility that is GF since oats are naturally GF.