Lemon Huckleberry Poppyseed Crumble Top Muffins & Hard things

The Olympics seems to stir in us an eagerness to pick up our step, dig a little deeper, try a little harder, do a bit better. If you aren’t inspired by the athletes who have such discipline, endurance and drive, then you just can’t be inspired.


I wonder how often they thought of quitting, throwing it away and giving up?  I could be wrong, but I bet I can guess the answer to that question.  OFTEN!

Much of the credit goes to their parents who have sacrificed time, time, time, time & of course money.


I’m a parent, and I think at the time I was rolling through the raising years . . . with my four girls, I hope I did the best I could do.  I do have a few regrets though.  There are certainly things that I wish I’d enforced a bit better.  Don’t get me wrong . . . I’m not wishing that we had raised Olympic Champions, who wore Gold medals around their necks.  I’m one of the older parents who strongly believes, that parents of today . . .over schedule, burn-out and insist their kids do so many things, that sometimes the more important things – the HARD THINGS that need learned in life, go by the way side. Perhaps, there just isn’t the time to focus on any one thing and achieve it’s best!

In my mind, I  already have four beautiful champions, who are now raising little champs of their own. They inspire me with their character, drive & ambition everyday.


Occasionally, I hear things out of the mouths of those Champions.

“I wish I had finished!”

“I wish I had practiced!”

“Why did I!”

“Why didn’t I!”

“If only I hadn’t stopped!”

“Mom, why didn’t you make me!”


. . . and that’s a HARD THING.

A couple of those Champions wish they had pushed harder at the piano, so they could enjoy it more today. Now I have little sticky hands striking the keys and making their own beautiful music.  Some of them will love the piano . . . some will hate it.  Some will find something else they love & want to excel at.

When I am sad, happy, depressed, mad, excited, hurting, glum, bored, joyful or anything in between, I can lay my hands on the keys of my piano and lose myself. The outside world is locked out, and I am immersed in beautiful stories in sound & rhythm. I owe that credit to my Mom and a very strict piano teacher. One hour of practice everyday from six to seventeen.

I hated a lot of it.  I was sometimes scared of it.  My piano teacher always stood faithfully behind the piano bench. She held a ruler in her hand and would reach over my shoulder and strike my hand with that ruler, when I struck a wrong note!

This taught me something really important:   Sacrifice + Preparedness = Confidence + Success = no ruler!


My champions played the violin, flute and the piano for a certain amount of time. School offered an amazing program through graduation for both violin & flute.  Excelling seemed easy, since it was a graded and practice was a necessity.

Piano . . . well, that was my job.  I was a piano teacher after all. I taught many during the week. Why was it such a struggle with my own? Everyone of my Champions was going to be world -renowned pianists.

In their early teenage years though, it suddenly became a HARD THING.

“I’m too busy.”

“I don’t wan’t to anymore . . . I hate it . . . just because you like it, doesn’t mean I do!” . . . was voiced often.

It seemed o.k. to push the bench in, close the lid and say  . . . fine.

Now, I realize that I was wrong.  I did the EASY THING. The right response would have been the HARD THING. Perhaps the Ruler theory was such a SMART THING.

Today, we seem to get rid of HARD THINGS.  We toss out, throw away, get rid of, stop doing, tire of . . . HARD THINGS. It’s not just the youth of today, but adults as well.

It might be piano lessons or maybe it’s something MUCH more important.  Maybe it’s our MARRIAGE.  Maybe it’s MOTHERHOOD or FATHERHOOD. Maybe it’s our JOB.

At fifty-two 1/2, I have learned a few things the hard way.  We can throw away one HARD THING, but another will quickly replace it.  HARD THINGS are here to stay. Perhaps we need to polish our HARD THINGS!


While you are shaking your head at my thoughts, run into your kitchen and make these glorious muffins. It’s an easy thing!

I ran into this recipe at the fabulous Joy the Baker. I’m telling you, they are worth every minute you’ll invest in making them from scratch.  I dare you not to pick off the crumbly sugary topping after they come from the oven.

KT0C7662wIt helps to assemble your ingredients before you begin.  That way, you can whip through these muffins in a flash.

PicMonkey Collage

. . . about glorious brown butter

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Keep an eye on the butter. It will melt, froth, and begin to crackle. That’s the water cooking out of the butter. The crackling will subside and butter will begin to rise up and foam. After that, it will brown fairly quickly. Remove from heat when butter solids become a medium brown color and butter smells slightly nutty. Immediately pour hot butter into a small bowl, or the butter will continue to cook in the hot pan. Allow to cool slightly. (Don’t skip this step.  It makes all the difference!)


The original recipe calls for fresh blueberries.  My fridge was lacking fresh blueberries.  My freezer was lacking frozen blueberries.  I tossed in frozen Huckleberries.  That was a very good choice.  The tartness of the huckleberry and the sweet crunch of the topping is too delicious for words. Don’t skip the lemon peel, it added such an amazing flavor to the muffins.


Use paper liners and an ice cream scoop.  Fill the muffin liners 2/3 full. The batter is quite thick.  I was tempted to add a bit more whole milk, but I resisted.  Next time I will add possibly 2 tablespoons more.

PicMonkey Collage3

I doubled the crumb topping and used a little more than half.  The leftover is for something else I have in mind.  Make sure you leave the crumble in large pieces.  Take a handful and squeeze it hard.  Now let it break off in large pieces over the batter.  Oh so good.

PicMonkey Collage5

Bake for 16 to 20 minutes. All ovens bake differently.  My muffins took about 17 minutes to bake.





Lemon Blueberry Crumble Topped Muffins


  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries or other berry
  • For the Topping:
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar


  1. Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a muffins pan with paper or foil liners, set aside.
  2. To make the muffins: Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Keep an eye on the butter. It will melt, froth, and begin to crackle. That’s the water cooking out of the butter. The crackling will subside and butter will begin to brown fairly quickly. Remove from heat when butter solids become a medium brown color and butter smells slightly nutty. Immediately pour hot butter into a small bowl, or the butter will continue to cook in the hot pan. Allow to cool slightly.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined. Add browned butter and whisk to combine.
  4. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Add milk mixture all at once to the flour mixture and stir gently to combine. Gently but thoroughly fold in the lemon zest, poppy seeds, and blueberries. Divide batter among prepared muffin cups.
  5. To make the topping: Combine all ingredients in a bowl and rub together with clean fingertips until crumbly. Sprinkle topping evenly over the muffin batter in cups.
  6. Bake muffins 16 to 20 minutes until golden and crisp and a skewer inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool muffins in the pan for 15 minutes before removing. Serve warm or at room temperature.
  7. Muffins will last, at room temperature in an airtight container, for up to 3 days. These muffins also freeze well.
  8. source: Joy The Baker


I used Frozen Huckleberries and the tartness of the berry along with the sweet crumb topping is delicious. Blueberries or Raspberries would also work perfectly.


  • Katrina @ WVS - 02/21/2014 - 12:24 pm

    Crumble topping all the way! These muffins look fabulous 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Diane - 02/22/2014 - 7:22 am

    I will definitely be making these muffins tomorrow, but I want you to know…. I.Loved.Your.Rambling.Thoughts. You were so dead bang on ! I’ve raised 3 kids, am now turning 60 shortly, and I hear the same words that yours have spoken. Why didn’t I! I should have done this or that! Endless! Thank you for sharing your heart today along with your fabulous baking ideas!

  • Kristi - 02/24/2014 - 8:14 pm

    Hi Jonna, I so appreciate your post today. I can not tell you how many times I wish I could play the piano and wish I would have taken lessons. It would be so fun to sit down and play all those Christmas carols and beautiful church hymns. Big regret. =) Thank you for the wonderful recipes you share with us. I don’t know you but I can tell you are such a sweetheart and an amazing wife, mother, grandma and of course Great Cook!ReplyCancel

  • Bran - 02/24/2014 - 9:20 pm

    First I want to say that you are the MOST AMAZING MOM the 4 of us girls could have asked for. You have a heart as big as anyone I know. You have always encouraged us to do our best and give it our all. I feel very lucky and blessed to have your example still today to guide and lead and direct me. Parenting just flat out suck some days. I rarely go to bed without feeling like I failed in one aspect of the day or another. I never feel like the day was a complete success. I always go to bed thinking I need to work on so many parts of what my main job is as a mother. BUT, throughout the day, or week, or month I see little glimpses of my kids setting good examples, reaching their goals, accomplishing the hard, and for a moment, even if it is a brief moment, I see that I have done something good. I have taught them something right, and I have succeeded just a little in what I am suppose to do. I couldn’t be the mom I am today, if I didn’t have you as a mother. THANK YOU for EVERYTHING YOU DO, HAVE DONE, AND WILL DO FOR ME. Thank you for believing that I am a champion, when I am nothing but ordinary. Mom, I love you with my whole heart. You are an incredible person that certainly doesn’t give herself enough credit.
    Love BranReplyCancel

  • Heather - 03/06/2014 - 12:08 pm

    Can I just say how awesome these are! Made these today with huckleberries so fantastic. Thanks for the great recipe.ReplyCancel

  • Alexandra - 06/26/2014 - 11:01 am

    Love your website! I have frozen huckleberries I picked from last season that I’m going to use in this recipe. Very excited to see how they turn out. For the crumble topping what ingredients am I using? Am I missing it somewhere? Thank You for sharing (:ReplyCancel

  • Alexandra - 06/26/2014 - 11:02 am

    Oh my goodness I see where I was missing the ‘For the topping’!ReplyCancel

  • Debbie - 08/16/2015 - 2:22 pm

    How many muffins does this recipe make?ReplyCancel