Ever since Mark Bittman‘s Food Matters cookbook came into our lives, his granola recipe has been an integral part of the home breakfast options. The cookbook automatically opens to pages 276-7. I have cooked it often enough to blurt the recipe out off the top of my head to any stranger I’m attempting to evangelize to the joys of homemade granola. Like most Bittman recipes, it’s flexible and personalizable, and I’ve made dozens of variations on it, depending on the sweeteners, nuts, and fruits on hand.

1/4 cup with almond milk feels like a virtuous breakfast; the heaping scoop buried under Greek yogurt will fuel a Friday ride. The domestic partner uses it to garnish his oatmeal. (This strikes me as ridiculously redundant, dressing boiled oats with baked oats, and so I use this pulpit to mock.)

I wasn’t looking to cheat on my granola recipe. I didn’t have motive. But social media, by way of twitter, provided opportunity….

this link

Maybe I was hungry. Maybe I was bored. Maybe I thought that if I wanted to be worthy of the Specialized-lululemon team bike, I should eat what they eat.

I opened in Safari. There, among other open pages on my phone, it lurked, a rival granola recipe, whose ingredients already had a home in my kitchen. I had never used coconut oil or quinoa in granola, but I had them…

So when a free morning yawned before me and I had a lame excuse not to ride my bike (I think it was, “I’ll ride later today” or, “I need new shoes for my new bike”), I also had a dilemma: be faithful to Mark Bittman’s granola or dally with Tayler Wiles’ granola?

Finding enough oats and nuts and maple syrup – and time – on hand, I opted to make both, for a side-by-side comparison.

It wasn’t a fully scientific experiment, but here’s what I found:

The Tayler Wiles granola wins on easy (and the Bittman granola is easy) because you put it in a really low oven and walk away for an hour. The Bittman granola needs constant stirring and tending or it will burn. This could be a function of our cookie sheets that burn everything around the edges. It is also somewhat a function of the sweetener I use. Honey requires an NSA level of surveillance; Agave nectar, SAT proctor. I’ve made this in a few ovens and lowered the heat by about 25 degrees from what the recipe calls for, but no matter what, it requires vigilant attention.

The yum factor is pretty much a toss-up. It’s always a factor of which combo of fruits, nuts, and spices I toss in, and that’s a pretty personal decision.

The Tayler Wiles granola wins on the clustering. IMG_3927

The Bittman granola is really about independent flakes.

So after a week of tasting, we don’t have a clear winner. I know I’m going to continue to keep both in the repertoire, but the one with the higher sweetener and oil to grain ratio (and the quinoa) is definitely going to be ride day granola, while the more minimalist version will serve us well on rest days.

Nom nom nom.