[CnD] I have a huge streusel problem

Debbra Piening debbra.piening at att.net
Sat Aug 1 23:30:13 EDT 2015

You want the entire mixture to be the consistency of fine crumbs, which is what you'll have if the temperature of the butter is cooler than the temperature of your dry ingredients.  That's why a pastry blender or two knives will work.  I suspect your hands are inadvertently heating the mixture.  Play with it some time.  Mix your dry ingredients, then add a chunk of butter and begin cutting the butter directly into the dry ingredients with two crossed ordinary kitchen knives. In other words, don't cut the butter ahead of time.  The butter and the other ingredients will mix as you cut.  Let the tools do the work and use your hands to see that that's what they're doing.  You'll be amazed!  

-----Original Message-----
From: Alex Hall [mailto:mehgcap at icloud.com] 
Sent: Saturday, August 01, 2015 10:11 PM
To: Debbra Piening
Cc: cookinginthedark at acbradio.org; janbrown
Subject: Re: [CnD] I have a huge streusel problem

I certainly could be. I think I have two problems: how small should the pieces of butter be, and how firm? By the time I'm done, the butter pieces are about the consistency of soft modeling clay and, as I said, not quite as big as marbles.
> On Aug 1, 2015, at 11:06 PM, Debbra Piening <debbra.piening at att.net> wrote:
> I mix the dry ingredients, then lay the cold stick of butter on top and use two knives to cut the butter into the dry ingredients, checking with my hands from time to time until I have the right consistency.  I've never had a problem doing it that way.  I wonder if you could be handling the streusel a bit too much.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Alex Hall via Cookinginthedark [mailto:cookinginthedark at acbradio.org] 
> Sent: Saturday, August 01, 2015 8:46 PM
> To: janbrown
> Cc: [cookinginthedark at acbradio.org]
> Subject: Re: [CnD] I have a huge streusel problem
> Well, the melted butter recipe I tried today was new, so I'll stick to my usual one. I mix the dry ingredients together--cinnamon, flour, and brown sugar usually, but sometimes oats and/or other spices. I then remove a stick of butter from the fridge and cut it into 20 or 24 pieces--little cubes--which I put in the dry ingredients. Finally, I mix it all around with my hands, squeezing the butter into smaller lumps as it softens enough to allow this. I try to work as much of the dry stuff into the lumps as I can, without melting them. By the end of it, I usually end up with buttery lumps somewhat smaller than marbles, plus  a ton of extra dry ingredient mixture that has nothing with which to combine. Plus, my lumps are rather soft, and even if I refrigerate the whole thing, it just never seems… right.
>> On Aug 1, 2015, at 9:36 PM, janbrown <janbrown at samobile.net> wrote:
>> I have never had this particular and I can't fathom why you are having it.
>> The course crumbs thing is most important so you don't have isolated flour pockets.
>> It is tough to know when you work it enough or too much.
>> Use your hands and allow some coolness in the butter.
>> Mix until good old course crumbs take shape.
>> It ought to work.
>> Can you describe precisely what you do?
>> Sent from my iPhone
>>> On Aug 1, 2015, at 4:05 PM, Alex Hall via Cookinginthedark <cookinginthedark at acbradio.org> wrote:
>>> Hey all,
>>> Yet again, I tried to make a streusel topping, this time for some baked pumpkin oatmeal. My sister made this recipe last week and it was perfect. I made the same recipe, following the same instructions, and the oatmeal was perfect. My topping, though, tasted like baked flour more than the brown sugar/cinnamon/butter mix it should have.
>>> I've never once made a good streusel/crumb topping. I've tried with and without flour, I've used cold or melted butter, I've tried with and without oats, I've used different ratios… A streusel is supposed to have the consistency of gravel, with the sugars and spices surrounding small bits of butter (or clumped together with some flour, in the case of recipes using melted butter) Those small pieces then crisp up in the oven and provide a wonderful experience for the top of your oatmeal, coffee cake, muffins, whatever.. Mine is always either way too chunky; so fine that it melts in the oven; never crisps up; or (like today) tastes--and has the unpleasant texture--of flour. I don't know what else to do, and no one has been able to show me in person how to do this right. I'm to the point where i either ask someone else to make my topping, or make it myself, knowing it'll be anywhere between "tastes okay but doesn't have the texture of streusel" to "tastes like baked flour and has no spice flavor at all". It's incredibly frustrating, because other than this, I'm actually a good cook. For whatever reason, streusel-like toppings are the one thing I simply cannot master, though I've been trying for years.
>>> My question, then, is simple: how do you all do it, particularly those of you for whom streusel works out well? I know it can be done by hand, because I've never seen a streusel that comes out tasting great be prepared in any kind of machine. I just don't know the procedure, and if I do, I'm messing it up somewhere along the way. Maybe I'm mixing too long? Not long enough? Working it too much? Is my butter too big? Should the cold butter warm up enough so I can mold it or not (I've been told both yes and no on that one)?. Thanks in advance.
>>> --
>>> Have a great day,
>>> Alex Hall
>>> mehgcap at icloud.com
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> --
> Have a great day,
> Alex Hall
> mehgcap at icloud.com
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Have a great day,
Alex Hall
mehgcap at icloud.com

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