Rob Howard
People Staff
December 11, 2009 11:00 AM

Some musicians write songs about their family. Michelle Branch likes to bake with hers.

“Once I had my daughter, Owen, I enjoyed baking that much more,” Branch, 26, tells PEOPLE. “It’s such a mother-daughter thing to do. It all comes down to being with family and doing something for your family. I think that’s why we get an urge to bake at the holidays. We all get an urge to be close and spend time with each other over a cup of coffee and a piece of pie.”

Branch, who’s readying her third solo album, Everything Comes and Goes, for release next year, says she has always had a passion for baking – and it’s something she shared with her 4-year-old from an early age.

“There’s a chef’s tower that you can buy at Williams-Sonoma that you can put your kid in that has four sides, so as soon as she could stand, we had that,” Branch says. “I think it’s so important to get your kids involved in the kitchen. When there is a connection to your food, you are going to care where it comes from and it will become a habit for your whole life.”

“She is really a great spatula-licker,” Branch says, reflecting on her daughter’s favorite kitchen pastime. “She gets that from her dad; he’s the frosting eater.”

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But Owen doesn’t just love sweets. “I’m really so happy that I have a daughter who is not picky,” she says. “We have just fed her anything from an early age. If you ask her what her favorite food is, she’ll say clams! She loves clams, she loves sushi, she loves vegetables. I think part of the reason is we’ve always had her involved in our food decisions.”

And Branch hopes her daughter’s passion for food continues to blossom – if only so she can always eat well.

“[Owen]’s mentioned before, ‘Mama when I grow up, I want to be a mama and a chef,’ ” Branch says. “Not that I’m going to push her, but I’m like, ‘Please, be a chef!’ When I’m old and you’re taking care of me, I’ll eat very well.”

One of Branch’s favorite recipes to make with Owen is her Apple Butter Apple Pie, a dessert she’s adapted and perfected over the years.

Click here for Michelle Branch’s Apple Butter Apple Pie recipe! >

And for more Nashville favorites, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE’s Country Special, on newsstands now – and for the latest country music downloads, go to

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