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"The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and Pumpkin Pie Muffin Recipe

I wish to inspire readers, teachers, and book clubs to bake along with their reading and promote discussion about the books we've enjoyed.


In Sleepy Hollow sojourned a schoolmaster named Ichabod Crane, whose body type befits the name. A superstitious singing-master, he lives a quiet life, other than his pursuit of the beautiful coquette and heiress, Katrina van Tassel. Though he has a rival for her affections in Brom Bones, this does not deter him. On the autumn night of a party at her father’s home, the story is told of the Headless Horseman, a ghost who seeks a replacement head from any wayward night-traveling villagers for his own missing one. Ichabod is terrified to return to the lonely schoolyard, past the place where the notorious Hessian awaits a victim.

This classic autumn tale of the town of Sleepy Hollow is full of food and superstition; a fun, haunting portrait of simple early American life in the Northeast, where ghost and goblin tales are told round a fire.

This book is perfect for fans of:

  • short stories
  • ghost stories
  • haunted stories
  • early American life
  • creepy stories
  • historical fiction
  • fall or Halloween stories

Discussion Questions

  1. What adjectives would you use to describe Sleepy Hollow?
  2. What are its inhabitants like and to what types of beliefs and superstitions are they prone?
  3. Who are the Sleepy Hollow boys and who is their leader?
  4. The dominant spirit of the Headless Horseman is said to be the ghost of a what?
  5. How is the countenance of Ichabod Crane described? Would you think his appearance comical for a story character?
  6. Were there any new words to you in this book that stood out? For example: potentates, eelpot, stripling, fallacious
  7. Where did Ichabod board and lodge and how did this enable him to become acquainted with the villagers?
  8. Why did it “behoove Ichabod to stay on true phrases” with his students, especially those who had “right housewives for mothers, mentioned for the comforts of the cupboard”?
  9. What other duties and labors did Ichabod perform to aid the farmers?
  10. Why was Ichabod so intent on winning the affections of Katrina van Tassel?
  11. How did the rivalry between Brom van Brunt and Ichabod play out?
  12. What was the name of the horse Ichabod took to the “quilting frolic” at Baltus van Tassel’s house? Was this an appropriate or ironic name and why?
  13. What did the Horseman turn into and how did he terrorize a man named Brouwer, who previously had not believed in ghosts?
  14. At what time did Ichabod have to turn home? How did this add to his terror?
  15. What happened when Ichabod met the horseman?
  16. Where did Ichabod think he had to get to in order to be safe and what became of him?

The Recipe: Pumpkin Pie Muffins

With fall coming on, Ichabod’s mouth watered at the thought of “costly winter fare. In his devouring mind’s eye, he pictured... a relaxed pie, and tucked in with a coverlet of crust…” among other things.

On his way to the “quilting frolic” at Baltus van Tassel’s house, Ichabod passed a pumpkin patch, with great yellow pumpkins “them, turning up their truthful round bellies to the sun, and giving sufficient potentialities of the most luxurious of pies.”

And at the party, he witnessed “Such heaped up platters of cakes of numerous and nearly indescribable sorts, acknowledged best to experienced Dutch housewives!” including pumpkin pies.

In the aftermath, a shattered pumpkin was found beside the hat of Ichabod Crane.



  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed down
  • 1/2 cup canned 100% pure pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs, (optional)


  1. Preheat your oven to 330° F. Cream together the butter and brown sugar in a stand mixer on medium-low speed (2 or 4) for two minutes. Once combined, add the pumpkin mix one minute. Then add vanilla extract and mix half a minute. In a separate bowl, sift together into a bowl (or stir with a fork at least ten times to aerate) the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon. To the wet mix now on the lowest setting, add the dry in 3 installments, stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides and base of the bowl with a rubber spatula and making sure everything gets fully mixed together.
  2. Put about 1-2 teaspoons of graham crackers crumbs in the bottom of each cupcake liner inside a cupcake tin and press the crumbs gently down. Dollop batter on top, filling about two thirds full (or if not using liners, butter/spray the tins with oil, then flour the tins). Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until you can insert a toothpick in the center, and it comes out clean of raw batter, with only a few crumbs attached. Makes about 1 1/2 dozen regular muffins, or about 2 1/2 dozen mini muffins.
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Similar Reads

Other short stories by Washington Irving include: Rip van Winkle, Old Christmas, The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Tales of a Traveller, Bracebridge Hall, The Alhambra, Woolfert's Roost, The Crayon Papers, Little Britain.

For more creepy Halloween short stories for young adults, you can read works by Edgar Allen Poe such as “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Fall of the House of Usher” or “The Masque of the Red Death.” You can also read more about a headless horseman in “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.”

For classic stories of the same nature, you could read The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, or Dracula by Bram Stoker.

Other Halloween books are The Halloween Tree or Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury, or other horror or gothic authors.

Notable Quotes

“The vicinity still continues underneath the sway of some witching power, that holds a spell over the minds of the coolest people, causing them to stroll in a continual reverie. They are given to all kinds of marvellous beliefs, are concern to trances and visions, and often see abnormal points of interest, and hear song and voices within the air. The complete neighborhood abounds with local stories, haunted spots, and twilight superstitions.”

“A stouter guy than he would have contracted from the opposition, and a wiser guy might have despaired. He had, however, a glad combination of flexibility and perseverance in his nature; he turned into in form and spirit like a supple-jack—yielding, but difficult; though he bent, he by no means broke; and although he bowed under the slightest pressure, but, the instant it become away—jerk!—he became as erect, and carried his head as excessive as ever.”

“Ichabod might keep on his match with the daughter by the side of the spring under the exceptional elm, or sauntering along inside the twilight, that hour so favorable to the lover’s eloquence.”

“I profess no longer to realize how girl's hearts are wooed and gained.”

“He who wins one thousand common hearts is consequently entitled to some renown; but he who maintains undisputed sway over the coronary heart of a coquette is certainly a hero.”

“The tale turned into instructed of vintage Brouwer, a maximum heretical disbeliever in ghosts, how he met the Horseman coming back from his foray into Sleepy Hollow, and turned into obliged to stand up behind him; how they galloped over bush and brake, over hill and swamp, till they reached the bridge; while the Horseman suddenly became a skeleton, threw antique Brouwer into the brook, and sprang away over the tree-tops with a clap of thunder.”

“It became the very witching hour of night that Ichabod, heavy-hearted and crestfallen, pursued his travels homewards, alongside the edges of the lofty hills which upward thrust above Tarry Town.”

“All the testimonies of ghosts and goblins that he had heard in the afternoon now came crowding upon his recollection.”

© 2020 Amanda Lorenzo


John Hansen from Gondwana Land on October 26, 2020:

An interesting read, and recipe. Thanks for sharing.

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