There is just something about a local bakery.
The small and simple shops. With chalk board signs and rustic displays. That make everything they sell right there in their kitchen.
Hoda Kotb on The Today Show once said that you never see a mad person outside a bakery. Everyone there is in a good mood. That observation has stuck with me and I think she is totally right. You never see a frown in sight.
You could just peer into the store window and you will smile.
New York City… to me, it’s a city full of bakeries.
I like to walk around New York, visiting all the bakeries. I hold on to my favorites and then re-visit them over and over and over again. Soaking in the atmosphere, gathering inspiration from the décor, display, and menu.
I vividly remember my first trip to Magnolia Bakery.
I was around 15 years old on a family trip. We went to the original location in the West Village. Not only is it located on Bleecker Street, the best street name there is, but I remember peeking into the side window as man in a white apron was spreading white icing over a tall, tiered white cake.
Then a few years later, I may or may not have left New York with a Banana Cupcake from Magnolia Bakery. I remember eating it in the Chicago airport during my layover.
Yes, of course I would do this.
Now, you may eat their cupcakes and say “It’s not the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had." But you know what? There is just something about a cupcake from Magnolia. It always a special treat. And that is what makes them the best.
I recently received Magnolia Bakery’s original cookbook. I was thrilled to have these recipes. But, I had to stop and question why in world I did not own this book already?!
So, let’s get down to business.
It’s time to make one of their cakes.
I need to make a cake for my niece's second birthday party.
I want to make an earthy, 3-layered decorated cake … a Carrot Cake.
Magnolia’s recipe is loaded with carrots, pecans, coconut, pineapple and cinnamon. It will make two, 9-inch round cake pans. But, since I wanted a 3-layered cake for the party, I made the cake batter recipe twice and filled three 9-inch pans.
I used the leftover batter to make this small round cake. You know, just to make sure the cake tastes okay before I serve it to a lot of guests. ;)
This is a good one! But, coming from Magnolia, would you expect anything less?
Magnolia Bakery's Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup vegetable oil (canola is preferred)
- 1 ¾ cup sugar
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups lightly packed shredded carrots
- One 8oz. can crushed pineapple in it’s own juice (buy the kind with juice)
- ¾ cup sweetened shredded coconut
- 1 cups coarsely chopped toasted pecans
Directions for the cake:
- Toast Pecans: Place the chopped pecans on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes, or until lightly brown and fragrant. Set aside to cool
- Preheat Oven 325 degrees.
- Grease and lightly flour two 9×2 inch round cake pans, then line the bottoms with wax paper. (I didn’t use wax paper and it worked fine)
- In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat the oil and sugar together. Add the eggs, one at a time and beat until light & thick (about 2 minutes). Add the vanilla and beat well. Gradually add the dry ingredients, beating until well incorporated.
- Stir in the carrots, pineapple (with its juice), 1 cup of pecans and coconut.
- Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the layers cool in the pan for 1 hour. Remove from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack.
- Frost with cream cheese frosting..
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 8oz. packages of cream cheese or light cream cheese (softened)
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (softened and cut into little pieces)
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 5 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar
- In a large bowl, on the medium speed beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth (about 3 minutes). Add the vanilla and beat well. Gradually add the sugar, 1 cup at a time until smooth and creamy.
- Cover and refrigerate the frosting for 2-3 hours to thicken before using. Do not keep it in the fridge any longer or it will be too hard to frost
So, would you do me a favor?
The next time you visit a local bakery, just stop and look around. Take it all in. See the smiles. Be inspired. Buy a cookie to take to a friend. And when you leave, stop and pause…
I think you will notice that you feel a little happier.
That, my friend, is the magic of the bakery.