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Why this Thanksgiving I’ll be grateful for burnt muffins

This year, as always, Thanksgiving at my house included witch cakes.

The tradition sparked from one of daughter Sara’s favorite bedtime story books, “The Witch in the Cherry Tree,” written by Margaret Mahy. It’s a charming story about young David, and his mother, who outsmart a witch that lands in their cherry tree hoping to sample their freshly baked cakes. When the bottoms of David’s cakes accidentally burn he tosses them up to the witch, who, it turns out loves burnt cakes so she eats them and flies away.

Problem solved. A mistake caused a positive outcome.

After reading the book every night of Sara’s childhood, we called them witch cakes whenever we baked cookies or muffins that had scorched bottoms and made up games of creative ways to eat the tops. They all involve tons of crumbs. Even now, when I am baking cookies I usually leave a few in the oven to burn, as I did today, and we always burn some corn muffins bottoms on turkey day.

“Witch cakes, anyone? “ One of us will ask as we pass around the basket of muffins. When muffin tops became a popular bakery item, we were sure the idea came from our witch cakes.

While my young daughter loved the book for its wonderful illustrations by Jenny Williams, I liked the story because it is a reminder that mistakes, even if they involve witches, always teach us something.

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