Crumble topping, also commonly referred to as streusel topping, seems to make everything taste better. Imagine this; buttery-smelling, thick, crunchy crumble with a hint of cinnamon and vanilla, with deliciously sweet and tangy apple filling topped with custard or vanilla ice cream.
But it is not just apples; you can also make rhubarb crumble, fruit crumble and put crumble on top of muffins, coffee cake, or even on banana bread.
Crumble topping is delicious, versatile, and super easy to make. However, despite its simplicity, sometimes it does not turn out right, but don’t worry; there is an easy fix in most cases.
In this post, I will give you an easy, foolproof recipe and troubleshoot how to fix crumble topping.
Easy Foolproof Crumble Topping Recipe
This recipe is an excellent example of an easy recipe to follow, perfect for cakes, or apple, rhubarb, plum, and fruit mixture. But be sure to read my tips below to ensure you get a deliciously crumbly result.
- 100g (1/2 cup) of butter, cold and cubed.
- 150g (1 cup) of plain flour.
- 85g (1/2 cup) demerara sugar.
- Pinch of salt.
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional).
- Using your fingers and mixing bowl, rub the butter into the flour, but don’t overwork it because it could become heavy. You’re looking for a light breadcrumb texture.
- Now add the demerara sugar, a pinch of salt (and cinnamon), and rub until combined into small pea-size clumps. Do not overwork it!
- Spread a thick layer over the fruit, apples, or cake until completely covered.
- Bake for 35-50 minutes at 356 Fahrenheit (180°C), depending on your pie or cake recipe. The topping should be golden brown, and the fruit should be bubbling.
- Let it cool for 5 minutes before serving.
Streusel Vs. Crumble Vs. Crisp
Everything from the dessert’s name to tips and tricks found online can impact your crumble. In this section, I am going to talk about what precisely a crumble is. Listening to the right tips online regarding a crumble and not another closely related dish is essential.
Many recipes claim to be the best crumble, and every website has its own interpretation of what a crumble is.
For example, some people claim that a crisp, a crumble, and streusel are all the same, and the names can be used interchangeably. However, that isn’t the case; each has slightly different ingredients or ratio variations of sugar, butter, and flour.
Here are the differences between the three:
Crumble – butter, flour, sugar, and sometimes nuts. The texture is “dense and cakey.” Originated in England.
Crisp – Less dense than the Crumble and includes oats that crisp up while baking. Originated in England.
Streusel – Originating in Germany, but what recipes are given for a streusel here in America is what Germans would call a crumble. The original streusel ratio is 1:1:2 for sugar, butter, and flour. The American Ratio is either a 3:1:2 or a 3:3:1 ratio.
So, while very similar to each other and often interchangeably used, they are not the same. Therefore, you should be careful and know what tips or recipes are for an actual crumble to get your desired result. But without further ado – let’s move on to the tips I found after a lot of experimenting and combing through the world wide web.
Tips For Making The Best Crumble Topping
It appears the two most common issues the baking community encounters while making a Crumble is either that it is not “Crumbly” or crisp enough or that it is too crispy. And while it does seem like a simple issue or an easy fix, as I mentioned before – it is all about the ratios!
My Crumble Is Too Dry!
Crumble is mixed with dry ingredients, sugar and flour, and a wet ingredient, butter. So, if your crumble is dry, it only makes sense that you use more butter, right? It is true, but we must be very mindful of not putting too much and making sure that our butter is just right not to throw off the texture of our Crumble even more.
- If you think the topping is very grainy and too dry, the best course to follow is to add one tablespoon of melted butter to the mix. Be careful to do this in small quantities; remix or rub the topping till it takes the desired consistency.
- Use Your Fingers when rubbing the ingredients together. Never use the palm of your hand to avoid messing up the texture and mix it in quickly, but don’t aim to be perfect.
My Crumble Isn’t Crispy Enough!
This time, it could be a variety of reasons that your Crumble isn’t “crumbly” enough. Right down to using too much butter, not using the correct type of sugar, or not cooking it long enough. Here are some tips to fix your Crumble when it isn’t quite as crisp as you like it.
- You’re using the “wrong” kind of sugar. British Grub Hub recommends using Demerara sugar over Brown sugar. They specify that Demerara is darker and has larger crystals, which gives your Crumble a better crunchy texture.
Another recommended sugar that adds crunch is white granulated sugar.
- Add Ingredients for Texture and Taste. Use some chopped or crushed nuts such as Walnuts, Almonds, Hazelnuts for some texture and some dried herbs and spices for an extra taste kick.
- Watch the Clock. Every recipe varies in ingredients slightly and the time they need to be baked. Additionally, not all ovens are the same. With that being said, check on your crumble about 10 minutes before it’s expected to be finished to be sure it doesn’t overcook.
- Precook your Crumble. French Chef, Raymond Blanc, precooks his crumble to avoid the uncooked texture and also protects the fruit from being overcooked in the process.
For example, one commenter called “AJC” on BBC Good Food commented that they fry the crumble on the stove in a non-stick pan and stir the whole time until it turns golden brown. This is supposed to give the crumble an even and consistent crunch.
How Can I Fix a Wet Crumble?
Some other common mistakes that bakers will run into is that their Crumble is either too wet, runny, or melting! These are fairly easy fixes, so let’s take a look!
- It’s the Butter! If you’re Crumble is wet, it’s most likely the butter. Some websites recommend using melted butter, but it’ll have a negative effect on your Crumble. Always use cold butter and add it in slowly to ensure you get the ratio needed for the perfect crunch.
- Use Cornstarch. Bon Appetit says mixing cornstarch with your fruit will prevent it from becoming a fruit soup and keep your Crumble from sinking.
- Bake Separately. Another way to keep your Crumble from sinking is baking them separately then combining them when it’s time to serve.
So that’s how we can either fix our Crumble when we make a mistake or how we can make our Crumble better than your neighbor or Mother-in-Law at the next potluck.
But here are some other common questions we get when it comes to perfecting the Crumble.
Why Does My Crumb Topping Melt?
The main reason why your crumble may melt is that you used too much butter or the butter you are using was too warm. Ensure the butter you are using is chilled and that all the ingredients are correctly measured.
If you are not using the crumble straight away, keep it in the refrigerator until sprinkled on your pie or cake and then baked.
In addition, using too much sugar or the oven being too hot can cause the sugar to melt or burn, turning into a greasy mess and ruining the taste and texture.
Your crumble may also melt if the topping has been over-mixed. If while mixing, you notice the consistency being similar to the batter, or if it looks pasty and peaty, you’ve over-mixed it- nothing worse than a melty, chewy crumble!
Why Is My Crumble Powdery?
Powdery crumble is a consequence of incorrect temperatures or not enough butter. If the butter is room temperature, it will create a liquidy, soft crumble but if it is too cold, the sugar crystals will stick to it and start becoming a powdery consistency.
The best way to prevent powdery or very fine granular crumbles is to take refrigerated- but not stone cold- butter and mix the dry ingredients with your fingers to soften the butter just enough and prevent powdery texture.
How Do You Thicken Crumble?
This question gets often asked when making fruit or apple crumbles as you don’t want the crispy topping to sink into the fruit mixture and get soggy or disappear entirely.
There is a straightforward way to try thickening your fruit crumble– don’t leave out the thickening agent like cornstarch. Suppose you don’t have cornstarch at home. In that case, any other thickening agent like flour, potato starch, and tapioca flour will be just as good a thickener for your fruit mixture.
You need the fruit to be juicy and tart, but you for sure won’t enjoy liquid fruit soup oozing out and making your whole crumble soggy.
Some fruit needs to be nudged along to set correctly, so adopt the habit of tasting as you go. Too much thickening agent and the fruit will be overpowered by sludge and clumps of the powder, too little and you will have fruit juice leaking out of your crumble!
Top Tip: Start with half a tsp. of cornstarch for an average-sized cobbler, then work from there.
My Crumble Is Too Doughy
The crumble should be crunchy and light, not like a substitute for polymer clay. Since the crumble topping consists of only a few ingredients, then the problem could be caused by either wrong quantities or the butter you used being too soft.
Doughy crumble can also sometimes be fixed using Demerara sugar in the correct quantities since the consistency of the sugar characterizes the consistency of the base of your crumble and its topping.
The flour and butter also have to be in the correct proportions to the sugar. Double-check the recipe and see if you might have to add a bit more one or another ingredient.
Also, adding some oat flakes could fix the doughy consistency.
Why Is My Crumble Sticking Together?
One of the main reasons your crumble is one big pile of mush is if you’ve used the wrong kind of or the incorrect quantity of Demerara sugar.
Also, adding too much butter makes the crumble go runny, especially under heat, and that causes the flour and thickening agent to gel together.
And lastly, it could be that you just did not rub the mixture enough. Rub the ingredients together with your fingertips till they form small pea-size clumps.
How Do You Keep Crumb Topping From Burning?
Try to separate the top layer of the crumble from the oven’s direct heat. This will prevent uneven heat distribution by controlling the top layer from burning and the inside from remaining raw.
Cover the top layer with foil to keep the crumb topping from burning and to ensure more even baking. Or, if your fruit or cake needs longer baking time, add the crumb topping for about twenty minutes from the end of the baking time.
Alternatively, you can bake your crumble topping separately to have more control over is cooking time.
Why Does My Crumble Sink?
If you chuck a whole ton of nuts and crumble topping on top of the pie or fruit mixture, it will not be able to keep the topping afloat and will sink the entire thing. Keep the filling and other elements of the crumble in proportion with the topping.
Also, use a more shallow baking dish for your fruit or rhubarb mixture, or thicken your fruit with arrowroot, flour, tapioca, or potato starch so that the topping won’t sink into the mixture.
In addition, when baking apple crumble, make sure you won’t overbake the apples. Too soft, overbaked apples can swallow the whole crumble topping.
Lastly, if the structure of your cake is too fragile, bake the crumble topping separately, and sprinkle it to the base once the cake or fruit is baked.
What else can I add to my crumble?
There are a handful of great things you can add to your crumble. Some, for example, are chopped nuts for the extra crunch; adding some porridge oats offers a softness but also creates a crunch after being baked into the oven.
Some bakers love adding Marzipan for adding a fudgy but nutty crunch if you’re into bigger chunks.
But be careful of adding too much topping; otherwise, it becomes too fatty and you may lose that perfect balance with the fruit.
How do I reheat the crumble?
It is best to keep your Crumble in the fridge to keep it fresh longer, so reheating Crumble is necessary. You could use the microwave or reheat in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes at 350 Fahrenheit to 400F.
I’m traveling with the crumble; how do I keep it fresh?
Please wait until your Crumble is completely cooled down before covering it. Covering it before could result in the residual heat steaming the crumble topping and causing it to melt.
How To Make Apple Crumble – VIDEO
In this video below, I will show you how to make the most basic apple crumble recipe that is still super delicious, sweet, and crumbly. Check It Out Now!
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Read Also: Why is Your Banana Bread Gummy or Dense? (Common Problems and Solution).