When I was 15 my parents sent me to live with a French family for the summer. When I arrived, I discovered that in preparation for the arrival of an American teenager they had stocked their kitchen with a box of Golden Grahams. Now, my own home had never in my life had a box of any such sugary cereal, but I was eager to please. I ate the Golden Grahams, which let’s be honest, were delicious while the rest of the family ate baguettes. When the first box ran out, they replaced it assuming it was what I wanted.
It took a while for my French to be good enough and my confidence high enough for me to tell them that I really was more than happy to join them in eating French breakfasts. Once I did, I got to walk to the bakery every morning and pick up baguettes and a few personal sized egg custard tarts for myself and their 9-year-old son.
Back home, the father would efficiently split his baguette in two, slice it in half, and then scoop out the doughy center and toss it in the garbage. He would then fill the hollow baguette halves with french butter. He was trying to cut carbs, he told me.
At fifteen, I was always on a diet, but unfortunately, even in France, never one that involved bread boats full of butter. I would nibble more circumspectly on my lightly buttered bread or egg tart.
Noah and I went to Paris a few weeks ago. It was my first time back since I was 15. I knew in advance, that it was going to be tough to not eat gluten while there. I decided to allow myself a few treats including a morning baguette with butter and an egg tart. I never found the egg tart of my memory, but I did get my baguette. Even now, however, I couldn’t bring myself to eat it a la my french host, which is too bad because I love French butter.
To keep myself from eating a baguette every morning and also in a play to save a little money, I decided to make some granola before we left. I figured it would be a nod to my cereal eating days the last time I was in Paris, but healthier and, dare I say, classier. Because, this is the classiest granola I’ve ever made. It’s not the stuff of hippies, not slicked with honey or oil. Instead it’s crisped with a combination of oil and egg white, lightly sweetened with maple syrup, and full of toasted fennel seeds, almonds, dried figs and cherries. If the French ate granola, I think this is one that would meet their standards.
Fig and Fennel Granola: (Giving credit where credit is due, this granola was actually inspired by this genius chocolate bar.)
– 3 cups oats
– 1/2 cup roasted, salted sunflower seeds
– 1/2 cup pepitas
– 1 cup chopped almonds
– 1 cup unsweetened, finely shredded coconut
– 1/4 cup flaxseed meal
– 1/4 cup brown sugar
– 2 egg whites
– 1/4 cup olive oil
– 3/4 cup maple syrup
– 2 1/2 tablespoons fennel seeds
– 1 cup chopped dried turkish figs
– 1 cup chopped sour cherries
* Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
* Mix together all dry ingredients, except dried fruit.
* Whisk together maple syrup, olive oil, and egg whites.
* Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until evenly mixed.
* Spread granola evenly on a baking sheet.
* Bake 45 minute to an hour, until the granola has turned deep shade of brown. After half an hour of baking, toss granola with a spatula every 5 to 10 minutes so it does not burn.
* When it’s done baking, cool, and then toss in dried fruit.
* Store in freezer to keep it from going stale.