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Magnolia Bakery vanilla cupcakes
Photograph: Courtesy Magnolia Bakery

Recreate Magnolia Bakery’s iconic cupcakes that sparked a global obsession

Magnolia Bakery's famous cupcake recipe to bake at home

By
Bao Ong
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Cupcakes have been around for ages, but it wasn’t until nearly 20 years ago that Sex and the City catapulted the sweet treats into a global obsession. It can all be traced back to one scene: Carrie shares a cupcake with Miranda and dishes about her love life while sitting on a bench outside of Magnolia Bakery in the West Village at the corner of Bleecker and West 11th Street. For years, tourists would form a line snaking around the block for the desserts and competitors still offer their own menus to compete with the Magnolia cupcakes (as much as we love them, it’s the banana pudding that’s one of our favorite desserts in the city). 

As we’re sheltering in place these days, baking at home is more popular than ever—hello, sourdough starter! But there’s always another project to tackle, and luckily, Magnolia recently shared some recipes on its Instagram page. It’s yet another iconic New York dessert recipe—no line included—we have time to recreate at home for that much needed sugar rush craze that’s still going strong.

Magnolia Bakery Vanilla Cupcakes

Makes 2 dozen cupcakes


Here’s what you’ll need:

For cupcakes:

  • 1 ½ cups self-rising flour
  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


For Magnolia Bakery Vanilla Buttercream frosting:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract


Here’s how to make the cupcakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake papers.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the flours. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth.
  5. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  6. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  7. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla.
  8. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat.
  9. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended.
  10. Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about three-quarters full.
  11. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.
  12. Cool the cupcakes in the tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.


Here’s how to make the frosting:

  1. Cream the butter in a large mixing bowl. 
  2. Add the vanilla. Gradually add sugar one cup at a time. Scrape down sides of bowl often. When the mixture starts to thicken and appears dry, add 2 tablespoons milk.
  3. Beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 2-4 minutes. Add more milk as needed if you want a thinner consistency. If desired, add a few drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly.
  4. Store the icing at room temperature. Icing can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

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