I’m not much of a planner. I can’t decide what I’m going to eat on Thursday while I try (unsuccessfully) to meal prep on Sunday. Instead, I rely on a lot of staples, partially prepped and ready at a moment’s notice. And this time of year, one of the staples I turn to most is streusel, mixed up and waiting patiently in the freezer.
These frozen crumbles save the day when you just really need dessert or you want to turn an everyday bake into something special. Streusel can be added to recipes like cakes and bars for more flavor and texture, or baked on its own to top everything from yogurt to ice cream. You can quickly throw together a dish like no-recipe fruit crumble or near-instant jam bars, or instantly upgrade classic bakes with a sprinkle: My same blueberry muffins, for example, are immediately better with a hefty handful of crumble scattered over the top just before baking.
How to make and store freezer streusel
Streusel is just as easy to make in a big batch as it is in a small one — nothing about the technique changes. In fact, it’s actually less work than making several small batches over the course of a summer: By making a big batch, you only dirty one bowl for up to eight times the amount of topping.
Using the King Arthur Streusel Topping recipe, I multiply the recipe by eight to use 4 sticks (456g) butter, 4 cups (480g) all-purpose flour, 2 cups (424g) brown sugar, 2 cups (184g) rolled oats, and 1 teaspoon of salt. This volume means that with just 10 minutes' time, I’ll have enough streusel to last me at least a month or two in the freezer.
Unlike something like pesto (which I also make and freeze in large batches), the crumble topping is, well, crumbly, so there’s no need to portion it into single-use containers. Simply load the mixed, unbaked crumble into zippered freezer bags of any size, label and date (because it’s easy to forget what it is and when it was made), and pop into the freezer. When you need some, pull out a bag, shake it over whatever thing you want to make extra-delicious, and put the unused crumble back into the deep freeze.
Beyond this individual Streusel Topping recipe, you can also pre-mix streusel from any recipe to have on hand for a variety of flavors. For instance, mix and freeze the chocolatey streusel from Rye Chocolate Coffeecake, the sharp, gingery streusel from Ginger Streusel Peach Pie, or the dark, nutty streusel from Black Sesame Halva Coffeecake. Search “streusel” on the recipe site for even more variety (including gluten-free options).
How to use freezer streusel
Frozen streusel is handy not only because it can be made quickly and stored easily, but also because of the unending riff-ability of what it can go into. The frozen crumbles can mainly be used two different ways: 1) as an added component to upgrade a larger recipe and 2) as a stand-alone ingredient to make a variety of quick and simple dishes.
The first method, as part of a larger bake, includes options like adding a hefty handful to gussy up a classic muffin recipe, as a layer within (or on top of) your favorite coffee cake, or even to top a baking dish of chopped fruit tossed with sugar for an instant crumble. One of my go-to uses is to press streusel into a baking pan, top with jam, then bake for an ad hoc breakfast jam bar. In these instances, you want to add the streusel to your chosen dish before baking. And because streusel adds weight and texture, I wouldn’t add it to something where you're counting on a lot of loft or tender crumb, like angel food cake or yeasted doughnuts.
Secondly, streusel can be baked on its own and then added, fully cooked, to lend a pleasing, crunchy texture to dishes. This week, I baked off 4 cups of streusel, stored it in an airtight container, and then used a spoonful of streusel to top yogurt and fruit in place of more traditional granola, as a textural element between frosted layers of baked cakes, alongside chopped nuts for a sundae bar, and as a topping for both buttermilk panna cotta and my morning oatmeal.
But my absolute favorite no-frills, impromptu dinner party dessert is to simply bake off a couple of cups of streusel and put out a bunch of cut-up peaches and whipped tahini sauce. Guests take a piece of cut peach, dip it in the tahini, and then into the streusel. In a restaurant we might layer those ingredients to make something that feels very fancy; at home, allowing folks to go at their own speed and go back for seconds (and thirds) as the sun fades from the sky is the way to go.
How to make peaches dipped in tahini and streusel
- About 1 cup Streusel Topping, unbaked
- 1 cup (256g) tahini
- 1/2 cup (113g) water
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 firm but ripe peaches, cut in half and pits removed
Heat oven to 350ºF. On a parchment or silicone-lined baking sheet, spread the streusel evenly. Bake until golden brown and cooked through, about 12 minutes. Remove from the oven. Let cool and break into small pieces if necessary.
In a medium-sized bowl, combine the tahini, water, and salt and whisk until light and fluffy. (It will look broken but keep whisking, adding a splash more water to thin if necessary.) Cut the peach into wedges.
Set out a bowl or plate of the cut-up peaches alongside a bowl of tahini and a plate of the crumble. Dip the peaches in the tahini and then into the crumble to eat.
Cover photo (Rye Chocolate Coffeecake) by Joseph de Leo.