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Old 09-06-2005, 01:50 PM   #1
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Crumb/streusel topping secrets?

I have tried many many times to make a decent streusel topping for pies and coffee cakes and I just can't get it right. I like my crumb topping pretty crunchy. I've had it "fry out" on many occasions. Sometimes it is too dry, other times, too moist and not crumbly.

I'm wondering if it has to do with the hydration potential of a given volume of flour. Each flour is different. So, even if I precisely follow a recipe, my ratios could be off.

Do you guys have any tips on how to achieve a perfect crumb topping? In the archives I found someone had mentioned using cold butter. How about shortening? What about different types of flour (all purpose, high gluten?).

Any suggestions would be great!

Drew

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Old 09-06-2005, 02:38 PM   #2
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I like to add a touch of uncooked oatmeal to my toppings. It adds an extra texture.
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Old 09-06-2005, 03:07 PM   #3
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I think it is more likely that you have a butter issue than a flour issue. I have found with my crumbly toppings that softened butter and then working it well into the flour, sugar, and oatmeal (if you use it) tends to work well for me.
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Old 09-06-2005, 03:38 PM   #4
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I have the opposite experience w/ butter. I like to cut the flour/brown sugar into cold butter, for me, it makes a nicer crumble. I like my crumble crust to have a few bigger chunks in it, though the rest is uniform. Mix the flour/sugar first so that it's even, then cut in the butter.
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Old 09-06-2005, 03:43 PM   #5
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Arg! My computer just died on me, so I will have to type all this out again. But I think it will be very helpful! This is from an article I got out of Fine Cooking Magazine. Below is the ideal proportions for a basic crumb topping and tips to modify it to acheive a different texture.

Basic recipe:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 TBS granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon table salt
Crunchier:
Adding confectioners' sugar in addition to the other sugars provides more crunch and also causes the mixture to spread a bit for a more classic coffee cake look. Melthing the butter produces a similar effect. Increading the frown sugar adds crunch and also delivers a deeper, caramelized flavor.
Smoother:
To encourage the topping to spread together rather than remain pebbly and separate, try any of the following: add more buter, use melted butter or bake at a higher timperature. All of these changes lead to a crumb topping that tends more to one unified layer than lots of individual clumps.
Coarser:
For larger lumps, the simplest approach is the blend the mixture very thoroughly; the more you work it between your fingers, the more it will clump together into larger pieces. You can also use a little less flour or boost the amount of brown sugar.
Sandier:
Three changes can help produce a finer, sandier texture: don't blemd the mixture to thoroughly, use more flour, or reverse the proportions of granulated sugar to brown sugar. If you replace all of the brown sugar with granulated sugar, the topping will be extra tender, too.

A few recipes she included:
Pecan topping:
Ingredients for basic crumb topping recipe adding
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
Combine all ingredients except butter and pecans in a medium bowl. Tub in the butter with your fingertips until it's well blended and the mixture is clumpy but still a bit crumbly (it should hold together if you pinch it). Mix in the pecans. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Ginger topping:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 TBS firmly packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon table salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
Combine all dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Add the butter and work in well with your finger until the mixture hold together in very small clumps and there are very few fine grains left in the bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use.

This next recipe looks delicious!
Moist Apple-Walnut Cake
2 cups all-pupose baking flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon table salt
6 TBS unsalted butter, softened at room temp
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs at room temp
3/4 cup applesauce
1 cup sour cream
Walnut topping (recipe following)

Heat the oven to 350F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9x13 inch baking pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment and butter the parchment.
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt to blend.
Combine the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until combined (but not fluffy), scraping the bowl as needed, about 30 seconds. Add the eggs, one at a time until combined and scraping the bowl as needed.
Add about one-third of the flour mixture, mixing on medium-low until combined. Add the applesauce and mix until combined. Add another third of the flour mixture, then the sour cream, then the remaining flour mixture, mixing after each addition until just incorporated. Don't overmix. Scrape batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly.
Bake until the edges of the cake a slightly set and the rest is very jiggly, about 15 minutes. Scatter the walnut topping evenly over the cake and bake until the crumbs are golden brown, the center of the cake springs back when touched, and a toothpick inserted in the center has a few moist crumbs sticking to it, 30-35 minutes; check the cake early and if the crumbs are golden but the cake isn't fully baked, cover loosely with foil. Let cool on rack for at least 20 minutes. Serve warm
Walnut topping:
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
Melt the butter in a medium bowl in the microwave. Add the brown sugar, granulated sugar and cinnamon and stir until well blended. Add the remaining ingredients, mixing with your fingers until it's well combined; the mixture should be crumbly but also clump together. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Whew!
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Old 09-06-2005, 03:58 PM   #6
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Here is mine pulled from an Emeril recipe for raspberry filled coffee cake:

1/2 stick butter
1/2 c. flour
1/2c. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon


I like a thick layer of crumb topping so usually double this recipe for a 13x9 pan.
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Old 09-06-2005, 04:41 PM   #7
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I think that the butter issue is correct, you should use cold butter to work into the flour mix/ I have found that using brown sugar helps it to caramelize a bit, making it crunchy. Oats work well, and sliced almonds also, makes it a texture thing... Good idea is when you find a recipe you like, unless you're like me and don't follow one completely by the book, you know, your own additions & subs, make a big batch and put it in the freezer.
Hope this helps.
B.
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Old 09-06-2005, 05:12 PM   #8
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I didn't realize you could freeze it, thanks for the info!
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Old 01-25-2011, 08:54 AM   #9
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I always use the same recipe for my cherry pie crumb topping. but sometimes it melts in and sometimes not. I use cold butter. I think I will try mixing the sugar and flour together first and then add the butter.
Thanks,
Ranae
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Old 01-25-2011, 02:02 PM   #10
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A good quickie is to use a pouch of muffin mix (apple cinnamon works well), cut in the butter and sprinkle on top of whatever you are baking.
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