Granola Bars (and meeting Joy the Baker…kinda)

 

I have been on the pursuit of a really yummy homemade granola bar.  I make granola regularly and keep in a jar with a clamp lid on my counter most all of the time, to have with yogurt and fruit. It’s a staple in our home and a treat I enjoy sharing with others. However, I’ve been wanting to find a bar that could become a staple in our home because they are so easy to pick up and take with you (for breakfast, or lunch, or a snack)!

I have made 4 different recipes over the past several months and have found my favorite! It is Joy the Baker’s from her brand new, beautiful cookbook! (I raved about her HERE.  If you haven’t read her blog, you should, and get her cookbook too!) I am so excited to have the cookbook and was looking through it, marking pages with Lainey of all the recipes that we want to make.  (Thank you, Joy,  for having a photograph of EVERY recipe!!  If I ever get to publish a cookbook in my life, I would like to do that too!)  I saw a granola bar recipe and was so excited because it looked like my kind of bar: chewy, fruity, nutty, and simple. I made them and they are super-delicious.

a taste taste from Nashville to Vermont.

Several months ago when I was first trying different recipes, I sent my dear friend Karin a package for her new baby and decided that I would try a traveling-taste-test.  I mailed a couple of types of granola bars from Tennessee to Vermont for her to sample.
They made it there safely. She and I were able to discuss the pros and cons of both types of bars.  (I miss cooking and creating with Karin, so this was the next best thing.)  One was a recipe that was more bar cookie-like, with peanut butter and whole wheat flour.  It was a winner.  And the other was the Barefoot Contessa Recipe, which is totally different but equally delicious.  It is a honey-dominant, sticky, chewy bar with great flavor but felt more like candy to me.  (I also tried a very labor intensive fruit and nut bar…like a Larabar from a Real Simple recipe I clipped a while back, which was my least favorite, and the most work, so I quickly marked it off of the list).

Bar #2 – Barefoot Contessa Granola Bars

 

Bar #1 – Peanut Butter Granola Bars

This Joy the Baker Bar is my favorite.  It has golden raisins and coconut, which I love, but my husband doesn’t necessarily.  However, when baked with almonds, oats, brown sugar and other yummy ingredients, they provide the sweet and chewy elements to the bar and you don’t notice them in particular (Dave was able to really enjoy the bars in spite of those ingredients). The only trouble I encountered when I made them for the first time, was that they fell apart when I sliced them and then they fell apart when I ate them.  So, I learned from this and did a couple of things differently the second batch, so as to make them more cohesive.  I baked them in a little bit larger pan so that they were thinner and then pressed them down really firmly all over before baking. (Which Joy actually instructs to do in her recipe, but I didn’t take her literally enough).  I also cooked them until they were a tad more brown the second go-around.  It worked.  They are so tasty.

Portland… I think you’re great!
Speaking of Joy the Baker and her new cookbook, I have to tell you about my encounter with her.  I had noticed on her blog that she was traveling around, hosting book signings in various cities.  I was excited for her and thought, “if only she would come to Nashville!” Then, in the airport a couple of weeks ago, when I was going on a trip to Portland, OR with my social work students and colleagues, my student, Becca, told me that Joy was going to be in Portland doing a book signing that night! I was so excited, as were a few of our students.  We decided it was destiny! We had to go! After reading further, Becca realized that the bookstore where Joy would be was not within walking or subway riding distance to our downtown hotel.  We would have to take a cab.  Being cheap, like I am, I figured that wasn’t in the cards for us.  But the adventurous students were persistent and decided to go for it.  I was in! So we piled into a cab, paid the pricy fare and traveled in the dark, rainy night to Powell Books, in the suburbs, to see Joy the Baker.
Q & A with Joy the Baker at Powell Books
in Portland, OR : Our view of her
And there she was.  Adorable, funny, down to earth, endearing.  There were more than 100 other adoring fans there as well.  We realized pretty quickly that we were not going to be able to stand in that long line to meet her.  In addition, there was no book to have her sign, as mine was sitting in my kitchen in Nashville and the bookstore sold out before the signing began.  So, we took a couple of photos, and just admired her from afar!
It was crazy.  People were bringing her gifts and baked goods, whole cakes, cards, who knows what else.

Her view of us!

She posted this photo on her blog that she took of us (the crowd at the signing), from her vantage point, and there I was/am, along with 4 of my students.

It was a moment to remember.

The closest we could get to her without standing
in the 100 + person line.  (Check out
the freaky book in the foreground!)

 

So, I kinda met Joy the Baker.  Not really.  I had questions ready to ask her, and accolades to share with her, but alas, I didn’t get the chance.  So, more accurately, I saw Joy the Baker.
1 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup oat flour (made by putting oats in a food processor or blender until powdered)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp. ground flaxseed meal
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground ginger
1 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
1 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. honey
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
1 Tbsp. orange juice
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.  Line an 8 inch square (or I used a 9 X11 jelly roll pan) with foil so that foil hangs over the edges of the pan. Butter the foil.  Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine oats, oat flour, sugar, flaxseed meal, salt, cinnamon, ginger, coconut, raisins, and almonds.
In a small bowl, whisk together honey, melted butter, and orange juice.  Pour over the flour mixture and toss together with a fork.  The mixture will be dry but still sticky.  Blend together until all of the dry ingredients are moistened by the honey mixture.
Dump oat mixture into prepared baking dish.  With clean, slightly oiled fingers, press the oat mixture into the dish until tight and solid in the pan! (very important)
Bake for 35 minutes, or until browned around the edges.  The baked granola will be soft even after it’s fully baked, but will harden as it cools.
Remove baked granola from the oven and cool for 30 minutes.  Place the baking dish in the refrigerator for about an hour before slicing.  This will help to further cool the bars and keep them from crumbling when sliced.  Use the overhanging foil flaps to remove the baked granola.  Use a large, sharp knife to cut block into bars. Store in an airtight container.
They will last up to 2 weeks, if well wrapped and at room temperature.
lovely ingredients
“oat flour” made from powdered oats
liquid into the dry

 

pressed firmly into a foil-lined pan
baked to golden perfection
I’ll just eat those broken pieces

4 thoughts on “Granola Bars (and meeting Joy the Baker…kinda)

  1. LarissaDHolland says:

    I wrote a granola bar post a while back about my pursuit to find a granola bar that we all would love to eat! I make granola all the time at my house too. (a couple different varieties) I was also in pursuit of a homemade granola bar that would be delicious, not too high in sugar, and that the children would love!
    After many attempts, I finally found one that I love.
    The recipe that you posted sounds really good too, I'll have to give it a try! I grind my own grain for the flour that I use in the following recipe … and usually use spelt or soft white.
    Here is my recipehttp://6hollandhappenings.blogspot.com/2010/07/granola-bars-homemade-delicious.html

    Like

  2. HopefulLeigh says:

    I swear, Julie, you have an uncanny way of posting recipes that I've been considering tracking down or attempting. How fun that you got to see Joy the Baker! I looked into her book tour and considered going to the Chicago signing (next best thing to Nashville) but the timing didn't work out.

    Like

  3. joy the baker says:

    Julie!!!

    thank you so much for coming all that way to “see” me! that's absolutely incredible! your granola bars look incredible!
    thanks for the love and support and smiles!
    big love to you and your family!

    love,
    joy

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s