In my mind, I’m filing this crumb topping recipe under “kitchen basics” as it’s the kind of simple trick that can really elevate things like muffins or apple pie.
And for whatever reason, I know this probably should be called crumb topping, but in my mind I always think, “crumble topping” or “crumbly topping.” Lol.
More than a recipe, this is kind of just about ratios between cold butter, flour, and sugars. It’s truly that simple. But this crumb topping can completely transform a store-bought muffin mix, or it can be added to the top of warm, baked berries (the perfect late summer dessert).
Can you make crumb topping without brown sugar?
I make this with both brown sugar and granulated white sugar, but you can use granulated white sugar in place of the brown sugar portion.
If you do, though, I would add half a teaspoon of vanilla extract and maybe a little sprinkle of cinnamon or another spice you might have, as it’s the brown sugar that gives this a bit more flavor.
Do you have to use cold butter?
Cold butter is important here. Don’t warm the butter even though it makes it easier to work with. This is similar to making pie crust—you want the fat of the recipe to be very cold.
If I make this first (before the muffins or whatever else I’m making that goes with this), then I will put the crumb topping in the refrigerator until I’m ready to use it.
Happy baking! xo. Emma
crumb topping for muffins or pie
- ½ cup butter cold
- ⅔ cup all purpose flour
- ¼ cup sugar brown
- ¼ cup white sugar granulated
Cube the cold butter into small pieces. Add to a medium size mixing bowl.
Add the flour, brown sugar, and granulated sugar.
Mix with a pastry blender or your clean hands until the batter is crumbly, and the biggest pieces are the size of a pea.
Keep chilled until you are ready to use.
If you don’t have brown sugar, you can use all granulated white sugar instead. If you do, add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and maybe a pinch of cinnamon or another spice you have just to add a little flavor (as some will be lost if you don’t use brown sugar).