The Magnolia Bakery -- Old Fashioned Desserts


Jun 4, 2001 (Updated Jan 23, 2003)


Pros:
Cons:
The Bottom Line The Magnolia Bakery encapsulates the old-fashioned past with its delicious buttercream frosted cupcakes, rice crispy treats, and other delectable desserts. Located in the West Village.
Recommended: No
When you first walk into The Magnolia Bakery, look to your left, there are cupcakes there for the taking. Each $1.50, and a sign says, “Limit 1 dozen” -- if it only were that easy.

Take one, or two? And which one? They all look good. That is the sin of self-service; you cannot help yourself. These cupcakes are wonderful. They are 2.5 inches in diameter, and made with soft golden sponge, or chocolate cake. Each one is topped with a swirl of pastel colored buttery vanilla frosting that melts in your mouth like ice cream. A touch of sprinkles adds to the simplicity of it all.

Taking as many as you need and turning around to pay at the cash register, you may notice Allysa Torey, the owner, next to you frosting a cake on a small kitchen table with Cuisinart tools and pastry bags scattered about. The bakery is such a cramped little place (note 1), that all the baking and frosting is done in plain sight and within easy reach of customers. It is like being in someone’s kitchen. You get to see and smell everything, and if you stand there long enough, you can learn to bake your own cake, and frost it too.

The old fashioned decor certainly helps convey a feel of a homely place. The faded key lime colored walls; the old pressed tin ceiling and two lazy ceiling fans spinning about. And the delicious smell of buttery cake wafting through air.

Many cakes varieties are available, all old-fashioned cake recipes ranging from Yellow Cake with vanilla frosting; to Hummingbird Cake topped with bananas, pineapples and pecans. There is also a Red Velvet cake steeped in “mystery”. Prices for a 3-layer 6-inch cake cost $18.00 to $20. A 3-layer 9-inch cake cost $38. Prices do not include decorations, or candles (10 cents apiece). If you cannot afford it, don’t worry, you can still get sprinkles for free.

In addition to the thousands of cupcakes they bake each day, they find time to bake pies too. Their key lime pies are made with a spicy, dark molasses gingersnap crust filled with a creamy and very sharp key lime filling; I did not like it too much. Each bite was like downing hot lava rocks; the crumbly spicy gingersnap burned my throat whilst sour lime flavors tingled my tongue.

The Magnolia Bakery also makes rice crispy treats, and banana pudding, all old-fashioned, old-time desserts made with “Sunday taste”, and probably not too much “Tuesday effort” I do not know, I have not tried either one. The banana pudding had layers of Nilla cookies in it. A large bowl cost $24.00, double $36.00. Customers have to bring in their own bowls.

The Magnolia Bakery is a hit since not too many people bake like this anymore, where else can you buy rice crispy treats and banana nilla pudding beside making it yourself?


The Magnolia Bakery Cupcake Recipe
Their cupcake recipe is listed in an old newspaper review hanging on a bakery wall. The recipe is also available in The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook (note 2)
Cupcakes
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened.
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Icing
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
8 cups confectionary sugar
cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

I didn’t copy the entire recipe, just the ingredient list; sorry didn’t have time. But if you know how to bake cupcakes, you can probably make these easily. It looks like a standard recipe. Tips: Bake at 350 degrees. Use a few drops food coloring for pastel colored frosting.


Location
The Magnolia Bakery
401 Bleecker Street
New York, NY. 10014
212 462 2572
Cash, and credit cards.

Directions
Take the IRT #1 train to Christopher Street, get off, walk west along Christopher Street to Bleeker, turn right and walk a few blocks to Eleventh Street.


Read a review of Buttercup Bake Shop

Notes
1) The Magnolia Bakery has become so crowded that one of the original owners, Jennifer Appel, has parted ways and moved uptown to open the Buttercup Bake Shop serving pretty much the same style cakes as Magnolia.

2) The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook. 1999. Jennifer Appel, and Allysa Torey. Simon & Schuster.


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