It's always more fun to DIY. Every week at Food52, we'll spare you a trip to the grocery store and show you how to make small batches of great foods at home.
As a kid, Cinnamon Toast Crunch was one of my favorite cereals. It was always there, lurking in our kitchen cupboards, just waiting for my after-school cinnamon craving to surface. It was the perfect snack. The only problem, of course, was that it was loaded with sugar and so incredibly processed.
When I first started to cook and bake, I spent a lot of time reading about nutrition and healthy substitutions. I also learned that homemade is almost always better. But a month or so ago, I caved at the store when my little sister asked to get Cinnamon Toast Crunch. She is too cute to say no to, and she and my younger brother love Cinnamon Toast Crunch more than anyone.
After I bought it, I realized that I could probably make my own, healthier version. And you know what? My little siblings actually liked it better. This cereal is cinnamony, light, and flaky. It's just like the real stuff, only it doesn't leave you in a sugar coma afterwards.
I could not have been happier with the end product, and the best part is that it's pretty simple to make.
Homemade Cinnamon Toast Crunch
Makes 5 to 6 cups
For the cereal
1 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/3 cup coconut oil, at room temperature (or room temperature butter)
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup buttermilk
For the cinnamon sugar topping
1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted (or melted butter)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoons cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 350° F and line two baking sheets with a silpat or parchment paper.
In the bowl of a food processor, add the whole wheat flour, flour, baking soda, and cinnamon. Pulse to combine. Then add in coconut oil, brown sugar, sugar, vanilla, and honey. Process until the dough looks like small peas, then add in the buttermilk and process until a dough ball forms. The dough will seem dry and crumbly, but this is fine.
Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and pinch any crumbles of dough together with your hands. Divide the dough into four flat disks.
Working with one piece of dough at a time, place a piece of wax paper over the dough, and roll the dough as thinly as you can: no thicker than 1/4-inch thick, but preferably 1/8-inch thick (about the thickness of a quarter). Remove the top piece of parchment paper.
With a pastry cutter, pizza cutter, or very sharp knife, even out the edges of the rectangle. Slice into 1/2-inch squares and pierce each square with a fork 2 or 3 times.
In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of sugar and 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon. In another bowl, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon coconut oil in the microwave. Brush the whole sheet of dough with the melted coconut oil, then generously sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar.
Use a very thin spatula and scrape the squares off the counter and then carefully use your hands to place the squares on the prepared baking sheets. Repeat with the remaining dough until all the dough has been used.
Bake for 9 to 13 minutes or until lightly golden brown on top (watch closely). Allow to cool completely and store in an airtight container.
Photos by Tieghan Gerard