Recipes @ How to Make a Crumb Topping

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Sunday, May 1, 2011

How to Make a Crumb Topping

A number of recipes for baked items call for crumb toppings. You might need a crumb topping for a pie or fruit crisp, for example. But have you ever tried to make a crumb topping and ended up with a mass of mush rather than small pebbles of perfect topping? Well, you don't have to resign yourself to a mass of mush if you follow these tips for producing the best crumb topping:
  • First, make sure your butter is very cold. If your butter is too warm, the butter may start to melt slightly and it won't cut into the dry ingredients very well. Also, it's important to cut the butter into small pieces first.
  • Most crumb topping recipes call for the butter to be mixed into the flour and sugar. When cutting the butter into the dry ingredients, be sure not to overmix or let the mixture get too warm. Also, use a large enough bowl for blending the mixture.
  • Cutting the butter into the dry ingredients is best done with a pastry blender, a U-shaped pastry cutter that has tines on the bottom. Cut the butter into the mixture only until it begins to resemble "coarse meal" as most recipes describe. Ideally, the clumps in the mixture should be about a quarter inch to an inch scattered throughout the mixture. Again, keep the mixture as cool as possible. If you find it getting too warm in your kitchen and you notice the butter beginning to get too soft, place the whole bowl right into the refrigerator to chill it slightly before continuing.
  • If you have a food processor, you can make a crumb topping quite quickly and easily in the machine. First, fit your food processor with the metal blade attachment. Next, place all of the dry ingredients in the bowl of the food processor. Pulse the mixture a few times to blend the dry ingredients together. Next, add the cold butter (cut into little pieces) to the mixture and pulse it for about 1 to 2 minutes, just until the mixture begins to resemble coarse meal. You can then transfer the crumb mixture to a mixing bowl where you can either form larger clumps by hand or break down larger clumps with your fingers.
Here's a great, all-purpose recipe for a crumb topping that you can use for a variety of pies and fruit crisps:

Crumb Topping

Makes About 3 Cups of Crumb Topping

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup dark-brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar and cinnamon. Add the butter; pulse until large crumbs form, about 30 seconds. (If you don't have a food processor, cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry blender just until large crumbs begin to form.) Add the rolled oats; pulse the mixture just until combined.

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