Much as I love making lattice crusts for my pies, sometimes I take the easy way out, and slap a crumb topping over the filling. Then there are certain pie fillings that beg for a crumb topping, I’m looking at you peaches. And let’s not forget the other obvious use for crumb topping—COFFEE CAKE. Yes, all caps were really necessary for that one. So, needless to say, having a good recipe for a Buttery Crumb Topping is a pantry essential in my house.
Before we talk about the topping, though, can we take a step back and talk coffee cake? This is a total non-sequitor, but I noticed recently that some people call what I think of as a danish, a coffee cake, and that leaves me wondering what they would call my idea of a coffee cake? A crumb cake, perhaps, another name of which it goes by in Brooklyn?
What do you all say here? Inquiring minds (read: me) want to know.
Anyway…back to our previously interrupted conversation. Buttery Crumb Topping. It’s a pretty basic recipe, one you can tweak as you see fit. At the core, it’s flour, sugar, melted butter. Feel free to mix up the flours a bit. Want a deeper flavored crumb topping? Use some brown sugar. Spices take it in a different direction, too—try cinnamon, cloves, allspice, or nutmeg. I prefer a pinch of salt, but if you want to nix it, or are using salted butter instead, then no worries.
Whenever I have a recipe that calls for crumb topping, I always make a double batch, and freeze it to use in the future. Just sprinkle it on a lined baking sheet. Set the tray in the freezer until the crumb topping is firm, then transfer it to a container or ziptop bag. You can then use the topping straight from the freezer for coffee cakes, muffins, and pies, or anything recipe that calls for a sweet crumb topping.
This recipe is now part of my new site, Simmering. It can be found here.