Baking Magnolia’s Vanilla Cupcakes

Baking project!  Tawn’s aunt had her 70-somethingth birthday celebration today so even though I was not going to attend, I helped prepare two dozen cupcakes.  Tawn prepared brownies, too, but since he made those, not I, they aren’t covered in this entry.

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The recipe for the cupcakes came from the Magnolia Bakery’s “More from Magnolia” cookbook.   The Magnolia Bakery is a well-known spot in New York’s West Village, popularized in the TV show “Sex and the City” as it is just around the corner from Carrie Bradshaw’s fictional apartment. 

We visited Magnolia Bakery last March and I have to say that while their cupcakes are tasty, they aren’t anything special.  Nonetheless, this was the cookbook we had at hand.

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The recipe we used was for their Vanilla Cupcakes.  Instead of self-rising flour, I used a substitute of cake flour, baking powder, and just a little salt.   The recipe is easy enough to use, made all the easier if you have a stand mixer.

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You may notice that I have five eggs in the bowl but the recipe calls for just four.  I was on the fence because the eggs look smaller to me than the standard “large” egg.  The sizes were also inconsistent.  Ultimately, though, I stuck with four eggs and placed the extra one back in the refrigerator.

This project wasn’t really about taking pictures and writing, though.  It was about filming and editing a really cool video and, in all modesty, I think this one is one of my best.  I hope you enjoy it.

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The end products, which were tasty and very pretty in a pastel sort of way.  If I had it to do again, I would sift my powdered sugar for the buttercream frosting as it ended up just a wee bit gritty.  Other than that, though, no complaints.

Food in HK – Sift Patisserie

On our to-do list was a visit to the Hong Kong designer outlets.  Located in Ap Lei Chau, a little island on the south side of Hong Kong Island, most of the outlets are in a tall, nondescript building that for all purposes looks like an office building from the outside.  On each floor, though, are a handful of outlets for various name brands.

While Tawn did his shopping, I discovered the Sift Patisserie on the 22nd floor.  Quite coincidentally, after I started writing entries about this Hong Kong trip, Jack in Taiwan (now Toronto) suggested that I should go to Sift – a place I had already stumbled upon! 

Sift 1 Map

Location in the Horizon Plaza outlet building in Ap Lei Chau.

Sift 2 Map

Location in Wan Chai on Queen’s Road East.  There is also a dessert bar in Soho on Graham Street with a more extensive menu and wine, too.

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We were there just about opening time and I walked in to find a very cute but very empty space.  In fact, I waited for several minutes for someone to come out from the kitchen in back.  While waiting, I sat on a sofa and read a magazine, eliciting a surprised gasp when an employee finally came out of the kitchen and found me there.

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Cupcakes are all in trend right now, aren’t they?  It seems like they are, at least.  Generally, I am not a huge fan of cupcakes or cake in general because they are usually kind of dry even if they look pretty on the outside.

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I was pleasantly surprised to try their red velvet cupcake which was very moist and tasty and had a really nice dollop of cream cheese frosting.  While I’m always a little suspicious of red velvet – there is a LOT of red food coloring in there, after all, and I sense that artificial coloring probably isn’t that good for you – this was still a very enjoyable snack to accompany my latte.

To that end, Joanne over at “Week of Menus” created a “Not Red Velvet Cupcake” recipe that I’ve been meaning to try.  Entry here.

Speaking of things artificial, I noticed that Sift’s tag line on their website is “everything sifted, everything refined”.  While I get what meaning of “refined” they probably intended, my whole foods perspective made me cringe a bit at the word.  Refined foods are the ones we’re meant to avoid, right?  Anyhow, I’m sure they meant “fancy and luxurious” instead.

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I can tell that some thought went into their packaging design as the bags and boxes are very cute.  The rest of the sitting space wasn’t so interesting – white sofa and ottoman covered in fabric (bad choice when people will eat cupcakes on them!) and the walls were pretty scuffed up.  I get the impression that this location may be more of a production facility for them than an area focused on the retail side of operations.