Sunday, August 1, 2010
Magnolia Bakery, It's That Good!
Living in Manhattan in the pre-Sex in the City nineties, I was a big fan of Magnolia Bakery. Back then, before the massive cupcake craze that Magnolia spawned, it was crowded and cramped but more of a popular neighborhood joint than the baked goods juggernaut that it became a few years later. And it was great. I always preferred the layer cakes to the cupcakes, but everything had a lovely, homemade flavor. It wasn't fancy; all of the baked goods tasted like stuff someone's grandmother might have made.
I was pretty hesitant about hitting the new LA branch of Magnolia that opened last week. Having not been to the New York branch since before it hit the bigtime, I had no idea if the New York branch was still great, much less a satellite 3,000 miles away from the mothership.
I'm happy to report that my anxiety was not merited. We headed over to Magnolia last weekend and it was all there: cakes with light, moist cake topped with beautiful, fluffy buttercream in white and chocolate; red velvet cupcakes with clouds of white frosting. (Magnolia are masters of buttercream, I could eat their frosting out of a bowl.) It tasted just the same as I remembered, like the best homemade cakes you've ever had...the most comforting of comfort food.
The coconut cake was another triumph. It's a yellow cake with coconut mixed throughout, layered with a coconut cream. The frosting is a sticky meringue, which somehow retains both its fluffiness but also a creamy quality that's unusual in, say, a meringue pie topping.
And then there is the banana pudding. One of Magnolia's trademark dishes, it's more akin to a mousse or custard than a pudding. Studded with Nilla Wafers, it is light and fluffy in texture but also rich and creamy with a subtle banana flavor. I don't usually even like banana pudding and I can't stop eating this stuff.
So despite the hype and the TV fame, I'm proud to report that Magnolia lives up to its reputation, and then some. In fact, it may well be the best bakery in LA.
8389 West 3rd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90048