Published in 2004 by Simon and Schuster
List Price: $27.00
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When I put up my first post about doing cookbook reviews, I asked if anyone had any suggestions of books they wanted to see. Kiesha of 52 Weeks of Baking jumped on it immediately, suggesting her favorite book, More From Magnolia. She loves this book as much as I love Martha! (And that's a whole lot.) I knew the book had some great stuff in it, cause I've tasted most of the stuff Kiesha's brought into work, and they've all been great! (I'm still mad I had food poisoning and called in sick the day she brought in her creation for her very first blog post--Red Velvet Cake! I really wanted to try that one.) So I picked it up at the library with every intention of writing a really great review. But the more I looked through it, the more I felt I couldn't do it justice. It's best to leave it to the experts. So I asked Kiesha if she would like to write a review of it for me. She agreed, so here she is! And check out her blog after you're done for more Magnolia goodies! (And non-Magnolia goodies too! Seriously. You won't be disappointed. She's the reason I got into this whole blogging thing in the first place!)
When I was a kid, the most horrifying thing I could imagine was doing anything my mother or grandmother did. Bake cookies? Um, no thanks. Crochet a scarf? Yeah, right. Why would I need to learn how to do these things (or worse, enjoy doing them), when I could just buy them? Why would I want to waste my time on these homemaker-y things? I was a modern girl and baking was sooo 1950's.
And then I went to Magnolia Bakery.
For those who don't bake, or who aren't obsessed with all things cupcake, or who didn't get "Lazy Sunday" e-mailed to them, Magnolia Bakery is one of the premier bakeries in New York City. Nestled on a corner of Bleecker Street in downtown New York, it's an unassuming little storefront that conceals the most ahhhh-mazing cupcakes you'll ever eat. I'm not exaggerating even a little bit. They're life-changing.
After I got home from that particular trip to New York, I found the "More From Magnolia" cookbook somewhere. And I bought it immediately. I'd tried baking some stuff before, but more often than not, my cakes didn't rise correctly, or my cookies would burn, or my cupcakes would be dry. "More From Magnolia" turned me into a baker.
I'm pretty sure I'd always skipped reading introductions to cookbooks previously, because I thought I knew everything. But with "More From Magnolia", I wanted to read every word, soak up every thought that led to the creation of these magnificent cupcakes. And by doing that, I learned that it's important that your butter and eggs be at room temperature, that you should precisely measure your flour, that a sifter is a good tool to have hanging around the kitchen. Now that I've read some other cookbook introductions, I see that this one is not revolutionary, but the style is written in a fun, non-intimidating way that teaches you what you need to know.
The book is divided into eight sections (Coffee Cakes/Quick Breads/Breakfast Buns, Cookies, Brownies/Bar Cookies, Pies/Tarts, Cheese Pies/Cheesecakes, Cupcakes/Layer Cakes, Ice Creams/Icebox Desserts and Icings/Frostings/Sauces). None of the recipes are the least bit daunting, and they all feature ingredients that are readily available at most grocery stores.
My only complaint with the book is the lack of photos. The design is lovely and quite homey, with green and black print on white pages, and cute black and white photos of desserts or flowers or aprons leading off each chapter. But each recipe does not have a photo of its own, and there are only eight pages of color photos, featuring roughly 20 of the baked goods (although some are hidden in jars in the back of the photo, so they're not easily seen). I'd love to see how closely my results have matched up with the author's.
Don't worry, though, that cover photo of rows upon rows of cupcakes will have you drooling in the aisles of your local bookstore.
At $27.00, it's a little pricey, but I've personally found it worth it's weight in gold. I've made about 15 things out of this book and not a single one of them failed. To me, that's the sign of a well-written and well-researched cookbook. And it inspired me to expand my horizons, and try out things that were a little harder. This would make an excellent gift for someone itching for a chance to progress beyond boxed baked goods.
Stand Out Recipes:
- Magnolia's Vanilla Cupcakes
- Iced Ginger Cookies
- Pear Streusel Breakfast Buns
- Red Velvet Cake with Creamy Vanilla Frosting
- Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Pecan Crust
Kiesha Jenkins-Duffy bakes up an assortment of goodies at http://www.52weeksofbaking.com. An Ohio native, she'll be moving with her husband to Brooklyn in August, where she plans to eat her way through all the bakeries of New York City.