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.
Eight Years Ago: Brown Butter Bourbon Banana Bread, Sweet Potato, Ricotta & Leek Souffle, Oven Dried Potato Chips
Seven Years Ago: Israeli Couscous with Squash, Dried Cherries & Pistachios, Homemade Creamed Corn, Chestnut Orange Crisps
Six Years Ago: Apple Allspice Muffins, French Onion Soup, A Pot of Beans
Five Years Ago: Roasted Red Pepper Salad, Love & Marriage, Brown Butter Pumpkin Seed Cookies
Four Years Ago: Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce, Pumpkin Scones, Spinach & Pecorino Latkes
Three Years Ago: Turmeric Tea, Black & White Cookies, Ricotta & Mascarpone Cannoli
Two Years Ago: Grain-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies, Pumpkin Buttercream Frosting, Wilted Kale Salad & Warm Shallot Vinaigrette
One Year Ago: Homemade Vegan Parmesan Cheese, Twix Bar Brownies, Maple Cream Cheese Frosting, Pulled Pork Poutine, No Bake Pumpkin Cream Pie
Buttery Crumb Topping
- 1 ¾ cups (262 grams) flour
- ¼ to ½ cup (50 to 100 grams) natural cane sugar
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick / 112 grams) unsalted butter, melted
- Pinch of salt
- Add all of the ingredients to a medium bowl. Use a fork to stir together until the butter is fully absorbed, and forms a wet, sand-like mixture. The crumb topping should clump easily when squeezed together. Use immediately, or transfer to a covered container, and store in the fridge for up to 1 week, or the freezer for up to 2 months.