Despite being a real feeder and someone who loves to loves to cook for friends and family, I hate planning events. Even (especially?) my own birthday stresses me out. So when asked to jointly plan my best friend’s hen party, I did what I know best and put myself in charge of the food.
This included a breakfast buffet for 20 people, most of whom I had only met once or twice before. Ease of eating was the most important criteria, as our tiny flat only has room to seat 20 if you’re happy sitting on the floor. Food needed to be eaten with your hands or, at most, one item of cutlery. In addition to some toasted muffins and cream cheese, I thought granola and yoghurt bowls would be the best way to go.
After flicking through my cookery books and browsing online for ‘luxurious’ (read: unhealthy) granola recipes, I decided to come up with my own list of ingredients, using only the quantities and cooking instructions as a guide. My granola was made of oats, whole and flaked almonds, pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries, fresh apple, a touch of cinnamon, and a whole lot of honey – but you could include any nuts. seeds or fruit that you like. The only advice I’d give is to avoid using too many wet fruits, as this might prevent the granola from crisping up. It’s also worth bearing in mind that its near impossible to add too much honey. I also found that the granola crisped up once out of the oven, so don’t worry if it’s a little soft when you first take it out.
For a more scientific guide, I’d recommend reading this article on Epicurious to get a sense of ratios and timings.
As well as the granola I also made a stawberry and basil compote. After some delicious fruit and herb compotes for breakfast while staying at the L’Albiousse (a super chic hotel in the south of France) a few years ago, I’ve been wanting to make something similar myself and this seemed like the perfect occasion.
For quantities I loosely followed this Broma Bakery post, but once I started cooking I just kept tasting and adjusting as I felt necessary. I was nervous about the basil flavour being too strong, so kept taking it out every now and then. In hindsight the basil could have been stronger, but as I was making the compote for a large group of people I thought it best to play it a little safer.
Having taken so long to write up this post, I can confirm that I’ve made this granola a few more times, and even gave some to a colleague as part of their secret santa present. It’s so easy to make and to adapt, and most of the ingredients last for ages, meaning you can easily throw together another batch once you’ve invested in the main ingredients.