The burning question for a long time (for me...) was: Can you like granola and still be a tough girl? Apparently not, judging by the look of the standard, run-of-the-mill tough girl. (Sorry, no photos. You'll have to use your imagination.) That can change simply by virtue of the ingredients (or lack thereof). In my granola, which our Test Kitchen (chock full of tough girls) has for breakfast every day, you won't find any wheat germ, oat bran, flaxseed, wheatgrass extract, spirulina or other such internal-sloughing stuff. For us it's brown sugar, white flour, creamy butter, salt and maple syrup all the way. (OK, there's some oats...)


4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
2 pounds thick-cut oats
3/4 cup maple syrup
2 cups dried cranberries, cherries or golden raisins

Preheat the oven to 375°. In a mini chopper, combine the butter, flour, baking soda, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pulse until crumbly. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl along with the oats and syrup and stir until evenly moistened. Transfer the mixture to a large, buttered roasting pan and cook in the center of the oven until golden and crisp, 45 to 50 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let cool, then stir in the dried fruit.