When we first opened the Magnolia Bakery, I imagined a cozy, old-fashioned shop where people could come for a cup of coffee and something sweet. I expected our customers to include some local regulars and lots of neighborhood families. I thought we'd close at seven each evening so I could go home and make dinner. I never expected that Magnolia would turn into a city-wide hangout, much less that on weekend nights there would be lines out the door!
The bakery is busier now than ever. Our customers stop by as much for the feel of the store as they do for the desserts. With its vintage American decor and desserts, customers often tell me that walking into the bakery is just like stepping back in time to their grandmother's kitchen. They come in for a slice of cake and end up with a little piece of their childhood. Many want to meet me to say thanks for making the red velvet cake they remember from church picnics or the banana pudding just like their mom used to make.
Since the publication of The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook, many people have suggested that I do a second book. While working full-time at the bakery, the idea of writing another cookbook seemed impossible. Finally, after putting together a committed staff at the shop, we were able to move full-time to our country house, and I could really consider the idea, knowing that I would have the time and energy necessary to write the book I wanted to write.
The kitchen in my house is the one I've always dreamed of having. It's a big country kitchen with a window over the double white enamel sink that looks out on my vegetable garden and the cornfields beyond. The walls are painted pale yellow, and the glass-fronted cabinets, filled with vintage dishware and linens, are a creamy white. I have a counter just for baking that holds my 1950s Sunbeam Mixmaster, and there is a big enamel table that sits in the middle of the room, which is the perfect place for rolling out piecrusts.
Being able to work on the book in the country has turned out to be a wonderful experience. It's been great to be able to work on ideas for recipes while sitting on the back porch and then go straight into the kitchen to try them out. I like to create recipes in an old-fashioned style, but with new ideas and perhaps different combinations of ingredients to keep things interesting and fun.
These classic American desserts reflect the sensibilities of the bakery and my home. They aren't fussy or difficult -- they're simply my favorites.
Copyright © 2004 by Allysa Torey