One thing that really makes muffins and coffee cakes of all types extra special good is a sweet streusel topping. These toppings, also called “crumb” and “crunch” toppings, are easy to make and the basic version is completely made from pantry and refrigerator staples.
What are the 4 Ingredients of a Basic Streusel Topping?
- Brown Sugar
- Granulated White Sugar
- Butter or Shortening
What is fantastic, is the proportion of these ingredients is 1:1:1:1. This makes it so easy to remember what to use and how much. A quarter cup of each of the basic ingredients will top a dozen muffins or a loaf cake or an 8” square or round cake. Double the amount of each ingredient to ½ cup and you have enough to put a filling layer of streusel in each muffin or cake to get a ribbon of sweet goodness running through your treat… plus there will still be enough for a crunchy topping.
How to Enhance and Personalize a Streusel Topping
In addition to the basic recipe for a crumb/streusel topping, I’m giving you a second option of adding Enhancements such as Add-Ins for extra flavor and/or crunch. You can add any Add-In as long as it doesn’t exceed ⅓ of a cup. Also, you can add two Add-Ins like nuts and mini chips as long as you don’t exceed ⅓ cup for the total of these.
The other Enhancements you can add are Spices/Herbs and Extracts. Feel free to combine spices and herbs to complement each other and your batter… and always consider adding an extract. For me, an extract is not essential but can be a great addition if the flavors need an extra oomph. In general, I always think about how to enhance the treat I’m making.
For example in my Coconut Crumb Banana Muffins, I wanted to double down on the coconut flavor and used coconut oil as the fat in both the muffin and the topping. I also added shredded coconut as an Add-In for the crumb topping, bringing even more coconut flavor to the topping.
Be aware, if you use any add-In like shredded coconut that might burn in a moderately hot oven (400° F or 204° C) you will need to reduce your oven temperature by 15° to 375° F (190° C). This small reduction in temperature will increase your bake time by about 5 minutes but ensures you get a nice golden-brown color and lovely crunch.
How to Make a Crunchier Streusel Topping
The third option on the chart is for a streusel topping that is crunchier and less likely to crumble and break apart. All you have to do is add 1 slightly beaten egg white after cutting in the butter or shortening. This is especially good when you are topping a pie. A single egg white is generally enough to hold a crunch topping together even if you double the basic recipe.
From left to right this chart lists the ingredients for three types of toppings: a basic streusel, an enhanced streusel that can include extra flavors and crunchies, and a streusel that is less crumbly. I’ve also given you lots of ideas for flavors, including some you might not have considered before such as curry spice. Imagine making an apple cake and topping it with a crunch topping containing curry. Yumm!
How to Make a Streusel Topping
To make a crumb or streusel topping use the basic recipe on the right side of the chart. The first four ingredients must be used and the quantities are a 1:1:1:1 ratio.
Enchancements for the toppings are listed in shades of pink. Simply follow the color and select desired enhancements. Ad-ins must not exceed ⅓ cup total, meaning you can use more than one, i.e.: oats plus chopped pecans would equal ⅓ cup.
If a crunchy topping is desired add 1 beaten egg white to the topping mixture at the end of combining it.
These recipes are enough topping for a 9" x 5" loaf, 12 regular-sized muffins, a 9" pie, or a 9" round or square cake.