Two years ago, I met a young British woman named Poppy — that alone made my day — who introduced herself as a raw chocolatier.
I had a taste of her heart-shaped raw chocolates, assembled from raw Arriba cacao and a bunch of raw superfoods, and liked them so much I devoted one of my ELLE à table columns to them.
And when we met one day for her to demonstrate her chocolate-making prowess, she gave me a bag of her raw buckwheat granola, which was one of the items she served during the raw brunches she then hosted at Bob’s Juice Bar in Paris.
If you’ve been scratching your head over the high incidence of the adjective raw in the above paragraphs, I’ll quickly explain: raw foodists, or proponents of “living foods”, consider that the nutritional benefits of plant-based ingredients are essentially lost when they are heated beyond a certain temperature — the exact threshold varies depending on whom you ask, but it’s around 40-46°C (100-115°F). So their (often vegan) diet focuses on unprocessed raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, as well as sprouted seeds, grains and legumes.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m immensely curious about this kind of rebellious diet. I couldn’t picture myself “going raw” — I like bread and comté cheese too much — but I do admire the necessity-is-the-mother-of-invention effect of such dietary limitations, and I love learning about, and tasting, the entirely new dishes they spur.
Especially when they’re as fantastic as Poppy’s raw granola. When I asked how she made it, I was a little deflated to learn it required a food dehydrator, which my arsenal didn’t include, and certainly regretful that I had munched down the bag so fast.
Fast-forward two years, and I find myself with a food dehydrator on loan for a month. What was my first impulse? Yes, exactly.
I emailed Poppy again to get details, and although she didn’t have an exact recipe to share, she was able to explain the straightforward process: soak* some buckwheat groats, soak some almonds and/or nuts and seeds of your choice, combine with honey, spices, and salt, and dehydrate.
I followed Poppy’s directions for the most part, filling in the blanks when it came to the actual amounts of each ingredient, and adding a little coconut oil because I felt like it. I have also read that you can sprout the buckwheat in addition to soaking — as demonstrated in these videos — and I may try it next time, but I’m here to tell you it works splendidly without that extra step.
It is really quite amazing how the somewhat slimy mixture — buckwheat groats become viscous little things when soaked — transforms itself in such crunchy, nutty clusters. The buckwheat flavor is subtle, which I like, and blends beautifully with the nuts, honey and spices to form a delicate alliance.
Because I prefer bread for breakfast, I’ve been eating my raw buckwheat granola as an afternoon snack, with fresh fruit and homemade kefir.
I think I may like it even better than regular baked granola, of which I am terribly fond, and although I’m still hesitant to acquire a dehydrator of my own, this recipe alone might be all the convincing I need.
* The purpose of soaking grains, nuts and seeds is explained here.
Raw Buckwheat Granola
- 185 grams (1 cup) raw buckwheat groats, not toasted (in natural food stores; raw buckwheat groats are beige with green highlights, not to be mistaken with kasha, which is toasted and brown)
- 65 grams (1/2 cup) whole unblanched almonds, not toasted
- 2 tablespoons walnut halves, not toasted
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, not toasted
- 3 tablespoons raw honey (if unavailable substitute a good artisanal honey)
- 2 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil (or vegetable oil)
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon warm spices of your choice (such as cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, vanilla — I used a Roellinger spice mix called poudre equinoxiale; adjust the amount to your taste)
- sea salt
Makes about 350 grams, 3 1/3 cups.
In the morning the day before, soak the buckwheat: place the buckwheat groats in a medium bowl and cover generously with filtered water. The buckwheat will expand when soaked, so make sure the bowl is large enough and you’re generous with the water.
8 to 10 hours later, drain the buckwheat and rinse it thoroughly in several baths of water: after the soaking they’ll have exuded a sort of slimy substance, so the idea is to rub the grains gently to remove as much of that slime as possible.
Drain well and place the buckwheat in a wide colander until morning.
The same night, place the almonds, walnuts and sesame seeds in a bowl, cover with water, and soak overnight.
In the morning, drain the almonds, walnuts, and sesame seeds and chop roughly.
Place in a medium mixing bowl and add the honey, coconut oil, spices, and salt, and toss vigorously to combine. Add the buckwheat and toss to combine.
Spread on a dehydrator tray lined with a lightly greased solid sheet (don’t spread it directly on a mesh tray or it will be a mess), to form a layer no thicker than 1 cm (1/3″) — this amount fit neatly onto a single tray of the round dehydrator I’ve borrowed, which is 39 cm (15 1/3″) in diameter.
Start the dehydrator on 63°C (145°F) for 3 hours (Poppy recommends it to avoid fermentation, and notes that the moisture coming out of the ingredients will in fact keep them at a lower temp at this stage), then lower to 43°C (110°F) for another 10 hours, until dry and crisp. About 6 hours into the dehydrating, flip the granola cautiously over on the sheet — it will start breaking into clusters, that’s okay — to ensure even dehydrating.
Let cool and, if desired, add chopped dried fruit, dried coconut flakes, cacao nibs, etc. (I prefer to add these juste before eating.) Keep in an airtight jar at room temperature for about 2 weeks.
Cooking/baking time: 13 h