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Baking

That’s the Way the Topping Crumbles
May 10, 2010 • Posted by Jennifer Perillo

Throughout the year there are plenty of reasons to get baking. Perhaps it’s your kid’s school fundraiser, the church bake sale or a co-worker’s birthday. Cookies are the easy answer but you’ll soon find that the chocolate chips pile up since they’re a quick remedy for time-crunched volunteers. How do you make your treat stand out in a sea of sweets without spending hours in the kitchen? The secret is in the topping – think of it as the best accessory in your culinary wardrobe.

A good crumb topping livens up an otherwise ordinary coffee cake. I still remember the taste of the crumb on the cake from the bakery my family went to when I was growing up in Brooklyn, NY. It was plentiful, rich and yes, crumbly. We’d dab our fingers to pick the fallen crumbs off our dishes, like chickens hunting and pecking.

Crumb topping is also forgiving. Forget trying to get bakery-perfect muffin tops. Sprinkle some streusel topping and they’ll look and taste delicious. And pie-making season is just around the corner. Why fuss with crimping when you can just sprinkle some of this magic stuff on top? Here’s my basic recipe and a nut variation to get you started. It’s easy to make and fun to tinker with, so let me know what you come up with.

Buttery Crumb Topping
Makes enough to cover one 9x13-baking pan Make a double batch and store the leftovers in the refrigerator or freezer to have handy when you need to liven up an ordinary coffee cake or muffin. Be generous when you sprinkle it on muffins so it spreads across the tops as they rise.

2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup butter, melted

Place flour, sugar, and cinnamon in the bowl of your Cuisinart Food Processor. Pulse to combine. Slowly pour melted butter over mixture while pulsing, until mixture comes together, forming medium-sized pebbles. Using your fingers, sprinkle over cake or muffin tops before baking. May be stored in an airtight container for up to two weeks or frozen for two months.

Nut Crumb Topping
Makes enough to cover one 9x13-baking pan This is a crunchy variation that gives an extra bite to your crumb topping.

Buttery Crumb Topping
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped

Prepare Buttery Crumb Topping according to recipe. Place prepared topping into a medium-sized bowl. Add walnuts and stir with a fork to combine. Using your fingers, sprinkle over cake or muffin tops before baking. May be stored in an airtight container for up to two weeks or frozen for two months.

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