Magnolia Bakery is renowned the world over for its heavenly desserts – and now you can make and bake the best of them with its new 25th anniversary cookbook.
It’s hard to believe that nearly two decades have passed since the famous Sex And The City episode where Carrie confesses to Miranda that she has a crush on Aidan outside Magnolia Bakery. If you’re a true fan of the show, you’ll remember exactly what they were eating: vanilla cupcakes topped with pink buttercream frosting. Thanks to that brief cameo on the small screen, the show sparked a global cupcake obsession, and Magnolia Bakery became irrevocably associated with the iconic dessert.
Fast forward 20 years, and Magnolia Bakery is still a go-to institution for those with a sweet tooth. The neighbourhood store at 401 Bleecker St has expanded into an international franchise, enabling fans across the world to get closer to the brownstones of the West Village via a little bite of heaven.
But as much as those cupcakes will forever have a special place in our hearts, Magnolia Bakery has plenty of other divine desserts on its menu. And in a new cookbook to celebrate its 25th anniversary, the bakery’s CBO (Chief Baking Officer) Bobbie Lloyd reveals how to make some of those coveted recipes at home – from a rich double fudge brownie to the classic icebox cake.
Below, you’ll find three irresistible recipes from The Magnolia Bakery: A Complete Guide for the Home Baker (£25, Harper Design). If you’re after a quick-as-you-like bake, the Magnolia crinkle cookies marry the flavours of fudgey chocolate brownies with the chewiness of American-style cookies, and work perfectly for your afternoon tea break.
On the other end of the spectrum, the hummingbird cake is a bona fide showstopper. With layers of pineapple and banana sponge cake and sweet cream cheese frosting, it’ll definitely elicit plenty of happy faces on special occasions.
Last but by no means least is a modern twist on the bakery’s famous banana pudding. With crunchy wafers layered between bananas and vanilla cream, the salted caramel banana pudding transforms one of our favourite flavour combinations into an utterly moreish dessert.
Spoon into a glass, get SATC on the TV and make like you’re at Magnolia Bakery – that’s a perfect Friday night, if you ask us.
Bobbie says: “Similar in texture to a chewy brownie, these cookies have a deep fudgey flavour that relies on the best quality 22-24% unsweetened dark cocoa, such as Valrhona or Guittard. Coated in powdered sugar, the cookies spread and crack as they bake, revealing a tempting dark interior. Although I’ve always associated them with the holidays, they are a coveted year-round staple at Magnolia Bakery.”
Makes 36 cookies
- 270g plain flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 120g unsweetened dark cocoa powder (22-24%), sifted
- 400g granulated sugar
- 104g vegetable oil
- 4 eggs
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 250g icing sugar, sifted
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
In another medium bowl, whisk together the cocoa, granulated sugar, and oil. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, then add the vanilla. With a rubber spatula, stir the flour mixture into the cocoa mixture. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C). Line three baking sheets with parchment paper.
Place the sifted powdered sugar in a large bowl.
Using a 1-ounce cookie scoop, make uniform balls, then roll them in your palms until perfectly round. Drop the dough balls, a few at a time, in the powdered sugar, tossing until completely coated, then roll them a second time in the sugar.
Evenly space 12 cookies about 2 inches apart on the lined baking sheets. Bake one sheet at a time on the centre rack for 10-12 minutes. The cookies should crack on top and just start to set. Do not overbake.
Let the cookies sit on the baking sheet for 5-10 minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Store in an airtight container with parchment paper between the layers.
Hummingbird cake with sweet cream cheese icing
Bobbie says: “Created on the island of Jamaica, where it is also known as the doctor bird cake, the hummingbird cake was adopted as a Southern tradition after the recipe was first published in Southern Living magazine in the 1970s. It’s a bestseller at Magnolia Bakery, popular for its unique combination of banana, pineapple, and pecans.”
Makes two 22cm layers; serves 8 to 16
- 6 very ripe bananas (700g)
- 405g plain flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 eggs
- 450g granulated sugar
- 225g vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 342g canned juice-packed crushed pineapple, drained
- 86g coarsely chopped pecans, lightly toasted, plus 58g for garnish (optional)
For the sweet cream cheese icing:
- 85g unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, at room temperature (but still firm)
- 625g icing sugar, sifted
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 packages full-fat cream cheese (preferably Philadelphia brand), at room temperature (but not too soft)
Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C). Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans. Line the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper.
Break the bananas into large pieces and place them in the stand mixer bowl with the paddle. Beat on medium speed until pureed. Transfer them to a bowl, scraping the mixer bowl clean, and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
In a stand mixer with the whisk, combine the eggs and sugar. Whisk on medium speed for 5 minutes, until pale and creamy. Pour in the oil and vanilla and whisk for another 2 minutes, until everything is well combined. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl.
Switch to the paddle and with the mixer on low speed, mix in the mashed bananas and the pineapple just until incorporated.
Remove the bowl from the mixer. With a spatula, scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl, then fold in the flour mixture in three additions, mixing until just combined and there are no longer any streaks of flour. Fold in the 3/4 cup chopped pecans.
Evenly divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Let the cakes cool in the pans for 1 hour. Transfer the cakes to a cooling rack to cool completely.
To assemble and ice the cake, place one cake layer top side up on a cake turner. Use an icing wand to evenly spread 1 1/2 cups cream cheese icing over the surface. Add the second layer top side up.
Using an icing wand, spread the remaining icing over the top and sides of the cake, leaving some of the cake slightly exposed for the naked cake effect. Sprinkle the remaining chopped toasted pecans around the top edge of the cake, if desired.
Sweet cream cheese icing
Bobbie says: “This recipe is typical of a Southern-style cream cheese icing. It’s sweeter than our cream cheese icing and pairs beautifully with the hummingbird cake.”
Makes about 4 cups (enough for one 9-inch two-layer cake or 24 cupcakes)
In a stand mixer with the paddle, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar and mix until it looks like crumbly sand.
Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the vanilla and mix just until incorporated. With the mixer running on low speed, add the cream cheese about 2 ounces at a time. (I grab big blobs of it with my fingers and throw it into the bowl.) Beat until smooth but not creamy. You want to just get the lumps out. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl. Best if used immediately.
Salted caramel banana pudding
Bobbie says: “Who can resist rich, buttery caramel? (It’s a rhetorical question.) This inspired iteration of our banana pudding — yet another fan favourite — reminds me of the bananas Foster made tableside at premium steak houses in the 1970s. That pinch of sea salt brings all the flavours together so beautifully.”
Makes 4-5 litres; serves up to 16
- 1 can Nestle’s La Lechera dulce de leche sweetened condensed milk
- 360g ice-cold water
- 1 package Jell-O instant vanilla pudding mix
- 720g heavy cream
- 1 box Nilla wafers
- 4-5 ripe bananas, sliced
- 1 cup salted caramel sauce (see recipe below)
For the caramel sauce:
- 600g granulated sugar
- 227g water
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 480g heavy cream
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
In a stand mixer with the whisk, beat the dulce de leche and water on medium speed until well combined, about 1 minute. Add the pudding mix and beat until there are no lumps and the mixture is smooth, about 2 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for 1-2 hours or overnight.
In a stand mixer with the whisk, whip the heavy cream on medium speed for about 1 minute, until the cream starts to thicken, then increase the speed to medium-high and whip until stiff peaks form. Be careful not to overwhip.
With the mixer running on low speed, add the pudding mixture a spoonful at a time. Mix until well blended and no streaks of pudding remain. To assemble the pudding, select a trifle bowl or large, wide glass bowl with a 4-5 litre capacity, or individual serving bowls.
Spread one-quarter of the pudding on the bottom and layer with one-third of the cookies and one-third of the bananas (enough to cover the layer). Drizzle with 1/4 cup of the salted caramel. Repeat the layering twice more. End with a final layer of pudding. Drizzle with the remaining 1/4 cup salted caramel.
Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4-6 hours. Cookies should be tender when poked with a knife. This dessert is best served within 12 hours after assembly, if you can wait that long!
Bobbie says: “One of the best things about this buttery amber sauce is that it keeps in the refrigerator for weeks. Use it as a topping for ice cream, drizzled on cakes, and in the base for our decadent Billionaire Brownies. Once you get the hang of making it, you’ll never buy caramel again. Be mindful when making caramel, as you’re working with very high temperatures. Use a thermometer and the right size pot to prevent the caramel from boiling over. Wear burn gloves when stirring the caramel or adding cream to avoid hot splatters. Keep kids and pets at a good distance from the stove when making caramel. It’s a process that needs your undivided attention.”
Makes about 3 cups
Place a folded towel on the counter. In a large heavy-bottom pan, combine the sugar, water, and lemon juice and gently stir with a wooden spoon or spatula, making sure all the sugar is moistened with the water.
Set the pan over high heat. Clip a thermometer to the side of the pan and bring the mixture to a rolling boil. Do not stir. Allow the mixture to boil while watching the thermometer closely. The syrup must come to 330°F (165°C). As it cooks, be careful not to stir. If the syrup starts to colour unevenly, you can swirl the pan to even it out. At 330°F (165°C), immediately remove the pan from the heat and carefully place on the folded towel. Be very cautious, as the mixture is extremely hot and can cause bad burns.
Pour the cream into the pan while standing back a little. The mixture will bubble vigorously. When it subsides, stir with a whisk. Whisk in the vanilla and salt.
Return the pan to medium heat and allow to come to a simmer again, stirring with the whisk until the mixture all comes together with a beautiful caramel colour.
Remove the pan from the heat and pour into a heatproof bowl.
When the mixture is completely cool, store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
From The Magnolia Bakery Handbook: A Complete Guide for the Home Baker by Bobbie Lloyd (£25, Harper Design), out now
Photography: Ned Semoff
Christobel Hastings is a London-based journalist covering pop culture, feminism, LGBTQ and lore.