magnolia cupcakes with buttercream.

I spent the weekend sitting at a ballgame in the pouring rain, then 4-wheeling in the aftermath of a rain storm which, in case you didn't know, is an ugly, messy, masculine activity, and by Sunday afternoon I was completely water-logged and suffering from trench foot to the extreme. Okay naysayers, my toes didn't actually rot off, although they were pruney and swimming in my socks thanks to a certain someone who insisted on getting us stuck in the river.

Needless to say (but I will anyway), I was itchin' to get in touch with my inner girly-girl by the time we got back home and out of our disgusting mud-drenched shoes. Unfortunately, Justin and I both passed out on the sofa after a hodge-podge dinner of leftover pizza and broccoli salad and never recovered to bake anything. Plus he had to sleep with my crazy hairs in his face. Thankfully, I've had these cupcakes on the docket for a while now so I am not completely lost for a posting today. See? I always come through for ya.

I've never actually been to Magnolia Bakery in NYC because heck - I'm not driving six hours to eat a friggin' cupcake, but I hear the line is generally backed out the door. I'm fully committed to the Baked cookbook, and I wasn't sure there was room in my arsenal for another New York based bakery book, but I succumbed to the pressure of knowing the supposed best-cupcake-ever recipe was within the stacks of my local bookstore and bought it.

I was waiting to see a secret ingredient somewhere in there, a little something to make these cupcakes worth the $2+ they charge for them, but it was all quite basic : flour, eggs, sugar, milk. I wasn't convinced it would turn out to be anything outrageous, and I was right. The cupcakes are standard, although no less delicious, a basic vanilla cake under a smear of fluffy buttercream frosting, only made special with the addition of confetti sprinkles.

It was the frosting I had high hopes for, the recipe requires you to beat the hell out of it to achieve the desired consistency but even after much whipping, it was still too loose to hold it's shape on the cupcake. I flopped down on the couch next to my Mom, pointed to the cupcakes on the cover of book and asked, "How do I make it look like that?" We tried and tried to no avail, it was just too runny to hold up. I put it in the freezer for a bit and that seemed to help in the immediate, but once it came to room temperature it sagged into the saddest cupcake you've ever seen.

I avoided adding more sugar to thicken it for fear that it would make the frosting granular and too sweet (this has happened before), but in hindsight I suspect the half cup of milk is too much liquid for the powdered sugar to hold. Since a drop of milk can liquefy a thousand times it's weight in powdered sugar (measurements totally made up), I think scaling back to a quarter cup and adding more as you go may be more effective.

Magnolia Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting
From The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook

1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 (1/2 cup-12 capacity) muffin tins with cupcake papers. In a small bowl, combine the flours. Set aside.

In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not over beat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended.

Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about 3/4 full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.

Cool the cupcakes in tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.

Vanilla Buttercream 

Be sure to beat the icing for the amount of time called for in the recipe to achieve the desired creamy texture.

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
6 to 8 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup milk (start with 1/4, add more as needed)
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 to 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.


  1. Anonymous25.5.10

    I really love the way you write. Your entries are always so funny and helpful!

  2. Anonymous25.5.10

    What kind of milk did you use for the icing? This is just a thought, but perhaps the fat content in the milk had something to do with the consistency of the icing. Perhaps they would have held together better with whole milk? I always use skim milk and I've had similar experience in the past by using only skim in recipes.

    P.S. I really enjoy reading your blog!

  3. Hmm...I didn't think about the fat content in the milk, I used 2% because the recipe didn't specify, I only buy whole milk if it says so. I'll definitely try that next time, thank you!


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