Chef Bobbie Lloyd is President, Operating Partner, and Chief Baking Officer of Magnolia Bakery, which has expanded by leaps and bounds in recent years from the New York West Village location made world famous on HBO hit series Sex and the City. Now, besides taking orders online for customers all over the country, Magnolia's sweet treats can also be found at storefronts in both Chicago and Los Angeles.
What, I asked Bobbie, is a "Chief Baking Officer" and what is her typical day like? "It's my "fun" title. I usually will start at one of our bakery locations and work my way to the home office. I have the honor of working with some fantastic people. I created the title when I found that no one understood exactly what my role was when I said "President" of Magnolia. As the operating partner of Magnolia, I have many roles that include creating new recipes and developing new concepts and product lines, as well as running the operations side of the business."
I spoke to Bobbie last Saturday at Best Buy at Columbus Circle, where she was helming a Baking Demo of her famously tasty treats to customers who also got to sample her creations in the store. The demo focused on small home appliances that are necessary for baking and so of course I had to ask Bobbie what her favorite small appliance was for the kitchen: "My KitchenAid mixer - no home should be without one!"
When did she first become interested in baking? "I've been baking since I was very young. When I was a little girl, I can remember baking with my mother and grandmother - the experience of working side by side with them in the kitchen sparked my interest in baking." She considers herself very fortunate to continue to bake and loves creating new, delicious items for people to try. Carole Walter, Dorie Greenspan, Martha Stewart and Maida Heatter are the culinary icons Lloyd most admires, calling them "my trusted, tried and true bakers that I love...their recipes and ideas are also true and honest."
Lloyd went to culinary school in the 1980's to hone her prodigious baking skills and opened her first retail bakery/restaurant/café in Boston in 1984. When the current owners of Magnolia, Steve and Tyra Abrams, bought Magnolia in 2007, they reached out to Lloyd to become a partner in the business and manage recipe development, production and operations. "I've known Steve Abrams for more than 25 years and worked with him on several restaurant concepts," Bobbie told me. "The opportunity to work with someone I knew well and return to my love of baking made it the perfect fit."
Besides their incredible cupcakes (which one could very well say unequivocally kicked off the current cupcake craze), Magnolia is also well known for their banana pudding. "Our banana pudding is definitely a close second to our cupcakes - people love it!" Bobbie agreed. "It's the perfect balance between sweet pudding and light and airy whipped cream, with delicious vanilla wafers and bananas layered in. Plus, every time you take a bite, you get a bit of everything - deliciousness in every bite!" Bobbie's favorite dessert? "I can't walk away from our key lime cheesecake or the lemon square," she admitted.
What Halloween inspired desserts was Bobbie showcasing this time of year at Magnolia? "We love decorating our cupcake and cakes for Halloween - we'll have Halloween cupcakes, pumpkin pecan cupcakes, Halloween-themed cakes, as well as a number of pumpkin products - pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin spice whoopie pies and pumpkin pie."
Bobbie shares her Magnolia Bakery recipe below for Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting.
Yields: 18-20 Cupcakes
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
1 ½ baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups canned pumpkin puree
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
¾ cup vegetable oil (preferably canola)
3 large eggs, at room temperature
½ cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans
1. Preheat to 350 degrees. Line two 12-cup muffin pans with cupcake papers
2. In a medium size bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat together the pumpkin, sugar, oil and eggs until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Stir in the pecans.
4. Fill each muffin tin with batter and bake for 25 minutes or until a tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.
5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before icing the tops with your favorite icing. Garnish with pecans as desired
Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
Yields: 8 cups
2 cups Cream Cheese, softened and diced into 1" cubes
1 cup Butter, Softened
¾ cup Maple Syrup, Grade B
2 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
8 cups Confectioners' Sugar, 10X
1. Using the paddle attachment and starting on speed one or low, mix the cream cheese and the butter into the mixer, after cream cheese and butter has combined, turn mixer speed up to speed two and beat using the paddle attachment until smooth. About 3 minutes.
2. As the butter and cream cheese are mixing add the maple syrup and vanilla.
3. Gradually add in the sugar 2 cups at a time, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl frequently. Beat until all of the sugar is incorporated and the icing is smooth and creamy.