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Streusel Basics

Created January 10, 2017
When the topic of well loved German cuisine turns from savories to sweets, one word inevitably springs to mind: Streusel. Here’s the scoop on that distinctive and delicious crumbly sugared topping.

It comes from the German verb streuen—to scatter or strew. As in a sweet, crumbly, sometimes crunchy topping strewn atop pastries such as cakes, muffins and breads. Generally, streusels require just a few pantry standbys: brown sugar, Bisquick baking mix or a quality flour such as Gold Medal, and butter. Spices and nuts, such as walnuts, pecans and almonds, can add texture and tasty variety, too. Sometimes, your recipe calls for scattering streusel right before baking. Other times, it’s added toward the end. No matter when you sprinkle, you’ll enjoy that distinct, delicious sugary topping, so aptly and ethnically named.

Some helpful streusel tips and facts:

Good (Tasting) Morning 

Coffee Cake is a natural vehicle for streusel, but remember: It does brighten up all types of baked breakfast goods, from muffins to scones. Some breakfast-oriented streusel recipes to try include Blueberry Streusel Muffins, Almond-Crumb Scones, or perhaps a new take on the traditional coffee cake, such as Mocha or Raspberry-Marzipan versions.

Make Sides 

When matched with the perfect base, streusel’s charms can extend beyond dessert- and breakfast-oriented baked goods into side dishes. In general, the topping pairs well with sweet, earthy dishes, such as Streusel-Topped Squash and Streusel-Pecan Sweet Potatoes. If there’s a side dish that you might coat in a simple dusting of brown sugar, consider ramping things up with streusel instead.

Bring Balance 

Streusels’ crumbly, crunchy goodness works in a number of ways to balance textures and flavors in your favorites pastries. It adds sweet substance and nutty depth of flavor to fruity treats, as in this Two-Berry Crisp with Pecan Streusel Topping. It brings surprising (yet welcome) texture to soft, moist breads and cakes like Chocolate Chip Streusel Cake and Cinnamon Streusel Quickbread. Streusel also nicely balances the creaminess of decadent desserts. Case in point: These amazing Apple Streusel Cheesecake Bars, a Betty Crocker prize-winning recipe.

Old Favorite, New Take 

The standard streusel recipe benefits from a makeover using shortcut ingredients. Substitutes not only speed things up, they offer a flavor twist on this old favorite. These quick and easy Raspberry Streusel Bars, for example, use Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Mix in place of sugar in a dough that works as both the crust and the streusel. And these Granola Streusel-Topped Sweet Potatoes call for crushed Nature Valley® Granola Bars in place of sugar, flour, nuts and spices, to give quick, delicious crunch to this rich autumnal side dish.

Holiday Worthy 

Streusel recipes often call for ingredients and “warm” spices, such as nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and pumpkin pie, that are synonymous with fall and winter holiday foods. It only stands to reason that these types of streusel dishes, in particular, make for great additions to the holiday dessert or dinner table. Think Pumpkin Streusel Cheesecake Bars, Cranberry Streusel Sweet Potatoes and Overnight Eggnog Streusel Coffee Cake.