Adventures in Cereal-Making

>> Monday, November 7, 2011

A couple weeks ago, I was downing one of my fifty nightly bowls of cereal when it hit me: Why not try to make my own cereal? I had an idea of where to start, but decided to consult more expert sources for this first go-around.

After a quick Google search, I found instructions on Willow Bird Baking. I followed the process exactly, but came up with my own mix of ingredients, including . . .

  • 1/2 cup bran
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/8 to 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup almond milk
  • 1/4 cup water
And here's the fun process . . . in photos!


I can hear my mother yelling at me to get off my perch on that chair and keep Baby A safe. I assure you, I had steady balance.


First you just mix together the dry ingredients. Then add the wet. Pretty basic.


The dough will be very wet -- it's almost hard to believe that it turns into crispy flakes. Well, hard to believe before you're done with the recipe. It doesn't morph without a somewhat major investment in time.


There's the initial process of rolling half the dough out as flat as you can get it onto parchment. A little plastic wrap and a rolling pin is useful.

Be careful when transferring to a cookie sheet -- my dough was so wet, I nearly tore the parchment!


Admittedly, I didn't roll out my bran cracker as thinly as I could have. So, I didn't have much of a problem with burning. However, it's important to keep an eye on everything while it's in the oven. Things can turn ugly -- and fast -- if you don't.


While the other half of the dough bakes, tear the cooled bran cracker into flakes. Not difficult, but it was at this point in the process when I started to wonder if making my own cereal was even worth it.


Why? Well, I began to see that half the dough made MAYBE two small bowls of cereal. All of the time and energy . . . and I could devour it entirely in 1 minute or less.

Hmmm.

You then take the second large cracker out of the oven and replace it with the torn flakes. Back into the oven they go for another 20 minutes (as you'll see in the instructions, you must turn them every five minutes to bake evenly). You repeat the tearing process with the large cracker and then repeat the second-bake process with the flakes.

You end up with this:


Which is pretty awesome. Here's a closer look:


It tastes incredible, too. But the whole thing took me at least an hour . . . it messes up the kitchen . . . and there's so little yield.


IDEAS FOR NEXT TIME
  • Do a cost-analysis to see if it's worth it to make our own cereal to begin with. I get the sense it is -- plus, the stuff seriously is delicious and entirely customizable. The end-result is similar to Heritage Flakes, which are quite costly.
  • Make a quadruple batch. Or more. It would be super easy to double, triple, etc. the recipe. I could also spread it out to get more bang for my time-buck.
  • Use two large cookie sheets to bake everything simultaneously. Not exactly sure how this would work with top rack versus bottom, but it's worth a try.
Expect to see that photo of me in the messy kitchen again later this week. It occurred to both of us as we were cooking up a storm yesterday that you don't need tons of space to be an avid cook/baker. There are, however, some tricks to making it work. Before we share ours, do you have any?

Just leave a comment or email us at neverhomemaker [at] gmail [dot] com.

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