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Store-Bought Granola Is the Crispy-Crunchy Topping Your Cake Needs

bon Appétit logo bon Appétit 8/14/2022 Mehreen Karim

When tasked with developing a breakfast-y blueberry cake, I was determined to recreate the glorious texture of a streusel-studded muffin. But I was equally determined to keep the recipe low-lift: one bowl, no special equipment, no fuss.

Classic streusel asks you to incorporate flour, sugar, and spices into butter, using a food processor or pastry cutter to combine. In other words, more dirty dishes. Instead, as an experiment, I reached for a bag of granola typically reserved for my morning yogurt and sprinkled it on the batter.

The result? A moist, velvety cake crowned with honeyed almond and oat crunchies. And a single bowl and whisk to show for the 10-minute project.

Using store-bought snacks as toppings isn’t a novel discovery. A package of croutons does for salads what pre-made granolas can do for baked goods: instant flavor and texture with zero hassle. While most granolas will work seamlessly in most recipes, there are a couple of caveats. Steer clear of granolas with dried fruit, which will bake into dental nightmares. And lean towards pale-colored clusters that aren’t already browned to the brim of burnt—they will likely scorch by the time the cake is done. We like Nature’s Path and Cascadian Farm.

Though brown in hue, chocolate granola is very much welcome to the shortcut-streusel party, and tastes especially delicious on chai cake. Add toasted coconut granola to your next batch of carrot muffins. And if you’re a fan of intense crunch, look for large-clustered granola brands like Michele’s or Nature Valley.

See the breakfast and snack aisles as a land of opportunity for doctoring up any cake or muffin. But it goes beyond those: Give your next peach galette or pie a sprinkling of granola to resemble a crumble. Add some heft (and extra flavor) to your breakfast blondies by adding a handful of quinoa granola. And these chocolaty billionaire bars could do with an added layer of crunch if you have peanut butter granola to spare.

But first—blueberry cake.

Blueberry Muffin Cake

© Photograph by Isa Zapata, Food Styling by Susan Ottaviano, Prop Styling by Stephanie De Luca
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