Little Cupcakes in the City

Magnolia Bakery - Hummingbird Cupcake

Friends, let’s test your cupcake knowledge. Do you know which bakery is credited for starting the cupcake craze?

Insert Jeopardy music to allow a few moments to think…

It’s Magnolia Bakery in New York’s Greenwich Village.

Ever since the ladies of Sex in the City enjoyed their frosted confections over a decade ago, we were hooked.

Fast-forward 12 years and the cupcake industry is still going strong, with a plethora of brands to choose from. Now more than ever, setting yourself apart from other cupcakeries is key.

As the initiator of the cupcake phenomenon, I was curious to see what Magnolia Bakery was doing in this regard. Thus, I planned a reconnaissance of their Los Angeles location.

The LA shop wasn’t much to look at from the outside. Inside, there were separate counters for each dessert sold – cupcakes, cakes, etc. The decor was vintage. The service was efficient, but didn’t feel warm. Automated is a better description.

My cupcakes were $3.50 each, which seemed pricey. Not that I’m unaccustomed to such a cost. However, these cupcakes were on the smaller side of the spectrum and did not appear generously frosted. From what I gathered, I was being charged for the Magnolia Bakery experience.

So far I was not impressed. This was starting to feel like an over-hyped, big city bakery. I willed myself to remain optimistic and drove home to begin my critique.

I started with their November Feature Cupcake, Snickerdoodle. It’s a cinnamon cake topped with meringue and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.

First let me say, my cupcake did not look like their website photo. Perhaps they bake their cupcakes differently in LA versus NYC?

Magnolia Bakery - Snickerdoodle Cupcake

Now I love Snickerdoodle cookies. When captured correctly in a cupcake, it’s heavenly… This was just okay.

I enjoyed the cake’s cinnamon flavor. However, since I didn’t have an adequate amount of meringue or frosting to help enhance, I wasn’t satisfied. Alas, this cupcake could’ve been so much more.

Next I tried their Hummingbird Cupcake. It’s a banana, pineapple and pecan cake with cream cheese frosting.

I’ve only had one other Hummingbird experience and it was amazing.

In my eyes, Magnolia Bakery had serious competition. Moreover, as a new favorite, I regarded this flavor highly.

The cake was soft. The pecans were evident and I tasted the banana; yet I couldn’t detect the pineapple. The frosting was creamy and its amount was sufficient for a petite cupcake. Overall, it was good, but not great.

I give Magnolia Bakery in Los Angeles 3.5 out of 5 stars.

LA Weekly ranked it as one of the 10 Best Cupcake Shops in Los Angeles, citing vanilla, chocolate and red velvet as their specialties. Admittedly, I didn’t try any of those. Still, I disagree with their rating on this one.

Based on what I sampled, I’ve tasted better for my dollar around Los Angeles – SusieCakes, Sprinkles and Crumbs Bake Shop – if we’re talking shops with multiple locations.

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. As such, Magnolia Bakery should indeed feel admired and recognized for their place in cupcake history.

Nonetheless, in this competitive landscape, it’s apparent others have improved on their addictive formula.

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2 thoughts on “Little Cupcakes in the City

  1. I. Love. Your. Blog!

    Especially the one on “Do Bigger Bakeries Make Better Cupcakes.” You were so on point with your comments! The bigger cupcakeries are basically nipping away at what makes the “local” communities special. For instance, I live in Atlanta, and why DC CUPCAKES (and other bigger cupcake bakeries) want to open up a bakery here is beyond me. It’s like the bigger companies are all competing to see who can open the “most” bakeries . . . not necessary the “best.”

    I truly think it’s impossible that the DC CUPCAKES here in Atlanta can taste as good as those in DC!! Plus, it is really selfish to try and move into every community across the country. We have enough cupcake bakeries here in Atlanta . . . big ones and small ones.

    So, thanks for you insight! And, if you are ever in the Atlanta area and would like to sample some of my cupcakes please contact me. I own a “mini” . . . probably the only “all- mini” . . . cupcake bakery here in the Atlanta area called S’more Minis. I am a “recovering” attorney and have taken all that passion I had for the law and turned it into passion for my little “baby cupcakes.” I have developed over 130 flavors, so as you can see I am REALLY obsessed!!

    I am licensed to bake and sell from my home and I have been featured at several markets throughout the area. It would truly be an honor to have you taste one of my passions!!

    Keep blogging . . . and enjoying cupcakes!!

    Angela B. Clonts, owner/creator S’more Minis, LLC (770)941-2378 (404) 538-6817 abclonts@bellsouth.net smorecupcakes.minis@gmail.com http://www.facebook.com/smoreminis http://www.twitter.com/smoreminis http://www.instagram.com/smoreminis

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    1. Thank you so much, Angela! I’m so glad you’re enjoying my blog. Like you, I’m pursuing my passion. Although I don’t have the patience to bake cupcakes, I admire those who do 🙂 I reviewed some of your photos and your minis look scrumptious! If I’m ever in your area, I’ll definitely let you know. I’d love to have a taste!

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