Magnolia Bakery Adventures

by Cate on January 4, 2008

Last week, our overly observant 5-year-old noticed that Mommy hadn’t made dessert in like forever. Kudos to him for even paying attention to such things, and since he cares, you know I had to rectify that asap. Luckily I had already planned to make homemade cupcakes for our New Years’ Eve festivities, so he didn’t have to wait long.

Recently I have become, ahem, obsessed with cupcakes from Billy’s Bakery in New York City. I had them for the first time at my sister’s baby shower back in September and have been dying to have them ever since. Truth be told, the bakery is probably less than an hour away from me, and we could certainly make the trip to get more, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s probably much better that they’re not around the corner.

I got a second fill of the cupcakes on Christmas Eve, when my sister and brother-in-law brought over another batch as part of our fourteen desserts tradition. Now what does this all have to do with the famed Magnolia Bakery in NYC? Magnolia is very well-known for their cupcakes as well, and Billy used to work there. A lot of the employees that left Magnolia went on to open up their own shops, and my theory was that they probably used a lot of the recipes they came to learn and love while at Magnolia. So since I have the Magnolia cookbooks (More from Magnolia), I figured it was worth a shot to try their recipe for the homemade frosting in the hopes that it was close to Billy’s.

Because he was so interested in baking, Nicholas and I went out and I let him choose cupcake liners and the sprinkles as well, giving him complete rein from start to finish. He mixed the batter by himself, filled all the cupcake liners up and frosted and sprinkled them when they were cool enough to handle. Polishing off quite a few over the course of the next few days, he was a pretty happy camper.

The frosting is very, very good, and while it may be closer to Billy’s than, say, a store-bought can or that of another bakery, it’s not quite there. It seems a trip into the city is in our near future, but in the meantime, these will suffice nicely.

As an aside, rumor has it that Billy has left the bakery and New York City and returned home to Ohio, but thankfully the recipes remain.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
Recipe courtesy of More from Magnolia

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
6-8 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3-5 minutes. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar. If desired, add a few drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly. (Use and store the icing at room temperature because icing will set if chilled.) Icing can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Makes enough for 24 cupcakes.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous January 4, 2008 at 2:55 am

These look yummy. Do you know where in Ohio Billy went? I live in Cleveland and would love to know if he’s around here. Thanks!



Anonymous January 4, 2008 at 11:53 am

I think you have just inspired my outing for tomorrow. NYC it is. First to my favorite Chocolate joint (Chocolate Bar for their Spiced Hot Chocolate and Billy’s for cupcakes. Let me know if you want me to pick some cupcakes up for you.

The Sister In-Law


Cate January 4, 2008 at 2:22 pm

Tammy – I’ll do some googling and see what I can come up with. Hadn’t heard specifics.

Sister-In-Law – Heck yeah! It will be awhile before I turn down a Billy’s cupcake. We have the baptism for Sophie tomorrow, so was debating about heading in since we’d probably be a good halfway there by then…


Kelly January 4, 2008 at 6:20 pm

I just got back from NYC and had sprinkles cupcakes (across from bryant park) and Magnolia Bakery. I found magnolias’ to be extremely sweet. I thought that was odd because I use their buttercream recipe at home. I highly reccomend Crumbs, though – Try the chocolate buttercream! As for billy’s, I am going to have to find it when I move there in March.

kelly : )


Ashley January 4, 2008 at 8:33 pm

yum! what recipe did you use for the cupcakes? i’ve had magnolia cupcakes before, and they’re VERY decadent – i like taking a piece of a few flavors instead of eating one entire cupcake.


Anonymous January 5, 2008 at 12:45 am

I miss NY bakeries. They are really the only “real” bakeries around. I have lived in Virginia for 22 years and cannot find a decent bakery here……


Cate January 7, 2008 at 12:25 am

Kelly – sounds like I need to plan a day trip and do a NYC Cupcake Tour! I’ve heard good things about Sprinkles, so will definitely check them out.

Ashley — I (gasp!) used a mix, but only because I forgot to pick up the self-rising flour for Magnolia’s cupcakes, and couldn’t face a third trip to the grocery store. ;)

Anonymous – if it’s any consolation, I’ve yet to find an OMG bakery in NJ either.


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