Friday, October 28, 2011

Streusel Topping


Streusel topping is a wonderful thing. A sprinkle of this sugary buttery goodness can elevate muffins to the status of miniature coffee cakes, add texture and interest to actual coffee cakes, take the place of a top crust in a pie, and turn a bit of excess fruit into a quick and satisfying crumble.

I like to make streusel topping by ratio, which means I can make a little or a lot, depending on my mood and the intended target. The ratio I've come to rely on is as follows (all measurements are by volume):

2 parts butter
3 parts sugar (brown for me)
4 parts flour
Spices to taste

Combine dry ingredients, and cut in butter. A food processor makes quick work of this, but you can also use a pastry blender or 2 knives.

A little streusel goes a long way. For a batch of muffins, 2 tablespoons butter + 3 tablespoons sugar + 4 tablespoons (or 1/4 cup) flour should be plenty, and may leave leftovers. The cook is at liberty to eat the leftovers (the carpe diem approach) or to freeze them for future use (the wise ant approach).

Some delicious additions to streusel topping include:

Rolled oats (to equal flour amount) - this will nearly double your topping and give you a virtuous sense of healthy eating
Cornmeal (to equal butter amount) - lends an interesting crunch
Dried grated coconut (to taste) - unsweetened if possible - adds a subtle richness
Finely chopped nuts (to taste) - walnuts are a natural here but use your imagination

Here's a little something I made the other morning to use up a too-ripe pear and plum:

Add some summer berries from the freezer, and
toss with sugar, cornstarch and nutmeg
in small oven-proof containers

Topped with streusel of the rolled-oats-coconut-walnut variety, and baked at 375┬║ until the fruit was tender and the topping golden:

A lovely snack to have with tea (me) or coffee (Mr. M)

You ought to have heard the spoons scraping the Pyrex to get out the last bits of crunchy goodness.

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7 comments:

  1. Oh.. yum. I am addicted to the oatmeal variety of streusel. Addicted, as in make a batch of it, put it in the oven under the broiler and then eat the entire pan to myself in one sitting :)

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  2. It looks delicious - rather like the topping we put on apple crumble. Yum!

    Pomona x

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  3. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the idea! I've got plums and pears from last weeks food co-op that I need to use up and this will be perfect. I can modify for our "diet". Almond flour and brown sugar splenda...real butter though - there's no subsitute for that! My father, a master baker from Norway, would say over and over again "ALWAYS use real butter and real cream." Words to live by.

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  4. Mmmmmmmm....streuuuuuuusellllll!!!! You are so right, streusel dresses up all kinds of things!!

    I'm addicted to brown sugar (dark!) too, so any way that I can us it in something is good with me!!

    Oh!! With my successes of TWO batches of One Hour Cinnamon Rolls I am at this moment trying my hand at French Bread! I've wanted to do this for years...decades!!...but have always been too scared. My new found bravery, thanks to you, is every exciting!!! :)

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  5. Claire - you are a woman after my own heart and dare to do what I have only dreamed of doing - bake a pan of streusel topping and eat it right up.

    Pomona - yes, it's exactly like crumble topping. In fact it IS crumble topping. :)

    Astri - what is brown sugar splenda? It sounds almost like a contradiction in terms... I often use rice flour instead of wheat in my topping. And your dad is so right about butter and cream!

    Laura - I'm a dark brown sugar freak too. There is no white sugar in our house (except for confectioner's). Congrats on breaking the yeast barrier!

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  6. P.S. to Astri - I'm scenting a paleo diet?

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  7. I made it and it was so yummy! Used steel cut oats and that added extra crunchiness. And the unsweetened coconut - so rich! I'm not so keen on this brown sugar splenda due to it's unnatural state, but I had it so I used it. I may use honey next time. We call ourselves flexatarians, but I looked up "Paleo" and I'm liking it. Hunting and gathering. I'm on a different plan each week - the only consistent part of the plan is the continuing effort to use lots of fruits and veggies; your recipe fit right in. Thanks again, Sue.

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