From Willow’s Basket: Elderberry Muffins

Willow Goodhope has the gift of giving. She finds great pleasure in touching people’s’ lives with the gifts that God puts on her heart to give.

Her favorite resource for her gifts is the common elder, also known as the black elder, the sambucus nigra. She considers the elderberry to be the quintessential “Giving Tree,” and most of her gifts are home-made items in which she uses parts of the elderberry. (It is important to note that ONLY the berries and flowers of the sambucus nigra are edible. Many other sambucus species are, in fact, poisonous. Know your herbs or buy your herbs from a reputable source, such as Mountain Rose Herbs, one of mine and Willow’s favorite online resources.)

Elderberry Croft, Willow Goodhope's Basket of Gifts

~ ~ ~

In the second episode of my serial novel, February Embers, Willow gives the Davis family an elderberry twig basket filled with an assortment of homemade items, including her special elderberry muffins.

Patti slowly closed the door, hoping Richard still slept, not wanting to have to explain her strange encounter with Willow. She carried the basket to the kitchen, turned on the low light over the sink, and lifted the cloth.

Inside the basket, on a pretty paper plate, were six large muffins, the tops of them sugary and crumbly. They were carefully wrapped in wax paper so thin it was nearly transparent, and they were still warm….

There are as many wonderful muffin recipes as there are teas, but this is Willow’s favorite, and now one of mine as well. It has a delicious sugary crumb topping – yum!


Willow Goodhope’s Elderberry Muffins

Batter Ingredients:
2 Cups All-purpose Flour
2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
½ Teaspoons Salt
½ Cup Butter or Margarine (room temperature)
1 Cup Granulated Sugar
2 Eggs
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
½  Cup Milk
½ Cup Dried Elderberries (reconstituted – instructions below) or 1 Cup Fresh Elderberries

Topping – crumble all ingredients together with a fork, set aside:
½ cup white sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup butter, softened, cubed
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon


  • Reconstituting your berries: If elderberries are dry, cover ½ cup dried berries in boiling water, and let sit for 3 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • Grease 18 regular-size muffin cups or line with muffin papers (or makes 12 LARGE muffins)
  • In a bowl, mix butter until creamy. Then mix in sugar until thick and fluffy. This is a very important step – mix it longer than you think you should. The ingredients should expand.
  • Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each
  • Add milk and vanilla, mix well.
  • In a separate bowl, thoroughly combine flour and baking powder, then fold in half at a time to wet ingredients. VERY IMPORTANT: Once baking powder gets wet, it begins to activate. DO NOT OVER MIX. Batter should be moist and lumpy – think oatmeal.
  • Fold in elderberries (1 cup fresh, or the ½ cup reconstituted)
  • Spoon into muffin tins, sprinkle with crumb topping
  • Bake approximately 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in thickest part of muffin comes out clean.

If elderberries aren’t easily accessible, this makes a DELICIOUS blueberry or boysenberry or currant or raspberry muffin recipe, too. It’s ALSO yummy with no fruit – just add some cinnamon to the batter for a little bit of flavor.

I hope you’re enjoying getting to know the residents at The Coach House Trailer Park in January Breeze, and February Embers, and March Whispers!

Do you have a favorite muffin recipe?