Thursday, January 2, 2014

Roasted Bircher Muesli (Granola) Breakfast with Dried Apples & Greek Yogurt

It only takes one good batch of homemade granola to make you realize how much better it is compared to store-bought varieties. For very little work you get something fresh and tasty and most importantly, you control the ingredients and any oil, sugar and flavorings that go into your mix. There is also a certain level of superiority satisfaction to having produced a large jar or container of homemade goodness, ready to scoop out and pair with good yogurt for breakfast or just snack on.

We are cooking Donna Hay recipes that are 'Suitable for the Spa' this week--healthier, lighter fare. I have to confess it was Donna's styling of the dried apple that drove me to make her Roasted Bircher Muesli in her Seasons cookbook. In the photo there was a bowl--full of a mound of muesli, a scoop of creamy yogurt and a stack of dried apple rings. It looked like a perfectly healthy and delicious way to start the day.

I looked up muesli and granola to understand the differences--the biggest are that traditionally muesli is raw or soaked rather than baked and is usually unsweetened and has no oil, while granola is usually baked with sweetener and oil. The Bircher refers to Dr. Maximilian Bircher-Benner, a Swiss physician and nutritional pioneer who introduced muesli cereal (slightly different from what is known/consumed today) as part of a healing diet for his patients. Donna's recipe is baked, without oil but with honey to sweeten, so I guess it's  a bit of a hybrid. 

I did adapt the recipe below to what I had on hand (it's a great way to use up random bits of nuts, seeds and dried fruits) and my tastes--adding cinnamon and taking a tip I learned from Mark Bittman (his 'Anything Goes Granola' recipe is my go-to) about not baking the dried fruit and instead, mixing it into the warm granola mixture. That way it stays soft and chewy making for more pleasurable eating. ;-) My notes and changes are in red below. I also made the apple rings--super easy and faster in the oven than my dehydrator. I used two smallish Honeycrisp and one large green apple sliced with a mandoline, spread out on baking racks on top of pans and topped with a little cinnamon then baked at 225 degrees F. for about an hour on each side. 

Roasted Bircher Muesli (Granola)
Adapted from Seasons by Donna Hay
(Serves 6)

 4 cups (360g) rolled oats
1 cup (160g) almonds, chopped
1 cup (200g) pumpkin seeds
(I added 1/3 cup pine nuts & 1/3 cup shelled sunflower seeds)
1/2 cup (60g) dried apple (I made dried apple rings to serve alongside)
1/4 cup (35g) chopped dried apricots
(I added 1/3 cup dried cranberries)
1/3 cup (120g) honey
(I added about 1 tsp ground cinnamon)
natural yogurt to serve

Preheat oven to 355 degrees F (180 degrees C).

In a bowl combine the oats, nuts, seeds, dried fruit and honey. Place the mixture into a baking tray lined with parchment paper (sprinkle with cinnamon) and bake for 15 minutes (Mine took about 25 minutes--stirring twice) or until golden. (Mix dried fruit into warm muesli.) Serve with yogurt (and dried apple rings)

Notes/Results: The kind of breakfast that is satisfying and gives you energy for whatever spa or non-spa pursuits you are undertaking for the day. I kept to most of Donna's recipe, but I *need* cinnamon in my granola/muesli so I added it. I also added small amounts of pine nuts, sunflower seeds and dried cranberries that I wanted to use up. I like the pop of tartness the cranberries add to the sweeter apricots and the color is nice. Again, I urge you to not bake the fruit when you cook the oats and nuts/seeds--it often turns out hard and not as nice texturally. I liked the honey in this--not too sweet and it doesn't clump up. Dried apples are well worth making yourself--so much better than store-bought and minimum effort--just the cooking/waiting time and the kitchen smells of apple pie with the apples and their cinnamon topping. I really liked the little Honeycrisp rounds--sweeter than the green apple and slightly more flavor. Finally I did drizzle my Greek yogurt with a little more honey and cinnamon to please my sweet-tooth. This makes plenty of muesli but it keeps well in an air-tight jar.

You can see what 'Suitable for the Spa' dishes the I Heart Cooking Clubs group made this week by going to the post and checking out the linky images.

Happy 2014!


  1. I've heard so much about bircher muesli and yet have never tried it! I love your mix-ins into it.

  2. What a beautiful breakfast!!!!!! You are so right--homemade granola is the best. We will never go back to store-bought.

  3. I made muesli for breakfast yesterday too but this recipe with roasting the oats into granola must add another level of flavor

  4. Pam Armstrong GreerJanuary 4, 2014 at 5:07 PM

    That's almost my granola recipe, except that to the honey, I add some orange juice and some roasted almond oil. And I never bake the fruits!

  5. I would love a bowl of your muesli/granola hybrid right now, especially with a side of those gorgeous apple rings! I also never bake the dried fruit in granola - amazing how many recipes call for that.

  6. Deb - I like the looks of this so much that I'm making it myself! The only difference being that I'm too lazy to get out my mandoline so I won't have any of those gorgeous dried apples, but I know the muesli will taste great with some Greek yogurt :) Your pictures are gorgeous!

  7. Thanks Zosia. ;-) I am always surprised by the number of recipes that call for baking the fruit too!

  8. Mmm... I like the sound of the orange juice Pam--I'll do that next time. ;-)

  9. Thanks Mireille--I think the roasting does bring out nice flavor--even if it's not truly muesli. ;-)

  10. Thanks Deborah! Yes, homemade rules! ;-)

  11. Thanks Joanne. Although this seems more granola than true muesli, it is very tasty! ;-)

  12. Thanks Kim! Glad I could help. ;-)
    Dragging the mandoline out is probably the most *taxing* part of the apple ring making process--that and the waiting for them to be done since they smell so yummy when cooking. ;-)

  13. This looks wonderful! I would love to have some of these, those dried apples are sounds good, and seems so perfect with the muesli granola!

  14. Very informative. I agree that making things from scratch without added preservatives does give one a feeling of superiority......err...satisfaction :-). I am bookmarking this one.


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