MAKES: About 2 cups

TIME: 10 minutes

Essentially a streusel, this topping is like a delicate and crumbled nut cookie. It’s lovely on any crisp, as well as sprinkled on quick breads, muffins, or tarts and pies before baking. Use the whole wheat flour for a more robust flavor; change the nuts and spices to vary the flavor or complement a particular flavor in the dish in which it’s being used; add about 3 tablespoons cocoa powder for a chocolate crumble topping.

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, or to taste

1 cup all-purpose or whole wheat flour, plus more as needed

Pinch salt

Cream the butter and brown sugar together using an electric mixer, food processor, or fork. Stir or pulse in the remaining ingredients until combined and crumbly; it won’t hold together like a dough. (You can make this in advance if you like; pile onto a piece of plastic and wrap, then refrigerate or freeze until about 30 minutes before you’re ready to use it. Defrost if necessary, then use.)

Crumble the mixture over a crisp, quick bread, or muffins. Or bake in a 350В°F oven until golden brown and use as a filling for crГЄpes.

Variations

Citrus-Spice Crumble Topping. Perfect with Cherry Crisp: Add 1 tablespoon mixed grated or finely minced citrus zest, like lemon, lime, orange, or grapefruit. Substitute 1/2 teaspoon each ground coriander and freshly ground black pepper for the cinnamon. Proceed with the recipe.

Oat Crumble Topping. The classic for crisps: If you like, substitute maple syrup or corn syrup for the brown sugar, and 1/2 cup rolled oats (or other rolled grain) for half of the flour. Proceed with the recipe.

Rice Flour Crumble Topping. Rice flour makes this very delicate: Substitute rice flour for the all-purpose flour. Proceed with the recipe.

Cracked Wheat Crumble Topping. Bulgur, wheat berries, or brown rice will work just as well: Substitute cooked cracked wheat for the nuts. Proceed with the recipe.

Coconut Crumble Topping. Use this with Banana-Date Cobbler: Substitute shredded coconut for the walnuts. Omit the cinnamon, if you like. Proceed with the recipe.

Hazelnut or Almond Crumble Topping. A delicious sweet, nutty flavor; it’s particularly good baked and used as a crepe filling: Substitute hazelnuts or almonds, preferably blanched, for the walnuts or pecans, and 3 tablespoons hazelnut or almond paste for the flour. Reduce the brown sugar to 1/2 cup if the paste is very sweet. Proceed with the recipe.

11 Great Additions to Any Pie or Tart Crust

  1. Nut flour or nut butter
  2. Chopped or whole seeds, like sesame, poppy, sunflower, or pumpkin seeds
  3. Shredded coconut
  4. Crumbled or ground cookies, like gingersnaps, vanilla wafers, graham crackers, amaretti cookies, and more
  5. Almond or hazelnut paste
  6. Finely chopped dried fruit
  7. Ground spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, star anise, anise, cardamom, or coriander
  8. Grated or finely minced fresh ginger, minced crystallized ginger, or ground ginger
  9. Grated or finely minced citrus zest
  10. Crunchy Granola
  11. Cooked grains, like sticky or short-grain rice, couscous, or bulgur, used in small amounts (less than 1/2 cup) and sweetened with honey or brown sugar