The bakery that is credited to have helped begun the cupcake craze in the 1990s has opened its first branch in Riyadh. Yes, Magnolia Bakery is finally in Riyadh. If you noticed, Riyadh is booming with cupcake shops already and another one opening should have gone unnoticed but no, this is Magnolia Bakery. It’s not something we can pass up. We’ve been waiting for this brand to open here; Riyadh being the new “expansion site” of more popular American and British restaurants and food shops nowadays.
Magnolia Bakery opened its first branch in Bleecker Street in the Manhattan neighborhood in 1996 by Jennifer Appel and Allysa Torey. It became known for their desserts, especially its cupcakes that they first made using leftover cake batter. After three years, co-owner left the business and opened her own Buttercup Bake Shop. Allysa Torey sold Magnolia Bakery to now CEO Steve Abrams in 2006. He was the one who expanded the bakery to other locations. Did you know that the first international branch of Magnolia Bakery is in Dubai? Yup, that one opened in 2010. And in 2016, the Riyadh branch opened.
We were giddy when we found out that they already opened their branch in Fiorenza La Piazza, one of the hip and happening food hubs in Riyadh. If you remember, this is also the location of Amorino that dishes out the creative ice cream flower. If you haven’t visited the place, then you have all the more reason now to go. We visited Magnolia Bakery a few weeks ago. There was no line, like the one we were envisioning, which is lucky for us because the guys at the counter can answer all my questions about their products. The bakery looks and smells so good. It’s a bit small but they’re expanding the place to accommodate diners soon. I ogled at every display they have and I’ll give you a moment to look at these:
So, in that brief moment of looking at these photos, have you decided what to get? No? Precisely. There’s so many things I want to order; I wanted to try all but I resisted the urge to spend a lot of money in baked goodies. I zeroed on their bestsellers: the red velvet cupcake and the banana pudding. I added their magic bar because I read people in Foursquare raving about them. I also ordered a few other cupcake flavors, a banana icebox cream pie because I love bananas and whipped cream and a marble brownie. I went home happy and really excited to try them.
The Red Velvet Cupcake (SR 12) didn’t disappoint. The cocoa and vanilla were in proper proportions in this one but they went overboard with the red color; it was staining my fingers, my lips, and my teeth. Haha! The cupcakes come in whipped vanilla icing and cream cheese icing. You should always go for the latter. This is the only time where I ate the cupcake and all of the icing together. I usually remove the icing when eating cupcakes but this one provided a good balance to everything. It’s so good! The other cupcakes have dry cakes and too sweet icing. The Magic Cookie Bar (SR 16) wasn’t as magical for me. It had walnuts and I’m not into nuts incorporated into baked items so this is a no for me. However, if you enjoy coconut, chocolate chips, and walnuts in one item, then go for this.
The Banana Pudding (SR 15 for small, SR 25 for medium, and SR 35 for large) is another revelation. One taste of it and it brought me back to Manila during the time I was enjoying Starbucks Banoffee Pie with my college friends. The Banana Pudding reminded me of the filling of that sweet dessert. It was sweet and rich and filled with banana chunks. This time, there are vanilla wafers and creamy vanilla mixed in so it’s all the more good. Actually, scratch that, the most Banoffee Pie reminder was the Banana Cream Pie which has a vanilla wafer crust and topped with fresh whipped cream. The only thing missing is the chocolate swirled into the filling and topped in the cream. If you go to Magnolia Bakery and have the only option to choose one thing, go for the Banana Cream Pie.
Magnolia Bakery also offers specialty cakes in various flavors like Devil’s Food (made with dutch cocoa with a choice of chocolate, caramel or mocha buttercream), White-Out (chocolate cake with meringue icing and cake crumbs), Hummingbird (bananas, pineapples, and pecans with sweet cream cheese icing), German Chocolate (German chocolate with coconut caramel pecan icing) and Flourless Chocolate. Prices from SR 25 for a slice to SR 165 for a 3-layer 6-inch cake to SR 240 for a 3-layer 9-inch version. Sounds yummy just by reading their ingredients eh?
They also have pies: Apple Double Crust, Apple Crumb, Pecan or Black Bottom Pecan, and Fruit Crisps. A mini pie is SR 35 while a 9-inch pie is SR 120. Other Icebox Pies available include Peanut Butter, Snickers, and Blueberry Jamboree. Of course, the smooth and velvety cheesecakes aren’t far behind with flavors ranging from Vanilla Bean, Caramel Pecan, Key Lime, Chocolate, and Red Velvet (SR 25 each). Cookies come in various flavors: Classic (chocolate chunk, penut butter, oatmeal raisin, etc. at SR 7 each), Specialty (coconut macaroon, lemon shortbread at SR 7 each), Cranberry Chocolate Chunk (SR 10), Whoopie Cookies (SR 12), and Sea Salt Caramel (SR 10).
What’s a decadent dessert without coffee and tea? They have the usual menu of espressos, americano, and macchiatto. Their regular tea go for SR 10 and their iced drinks go for SR 12 to SR 15. They also have fresh fruit juices for those who doesn’t like caffeine in their system (SR 18).
At the end of the day, I concluded that Magnolia Bakery is a great addition to the cupcake scene of Riyadh. However, I felt like it’s a bit overrated and overhyped. I like their products but there’s nothing in there that would make me want to travel that far. I will try the ones that I didn’t though, when I pass by in that area and I’ll let you know how that goes.
Fiorenza La Piazza, Takhasussi Street
Al Mohammadiyah District,
RIyadh, Saudi Arabia [MAP]