The original Magnolia Bakery in New York City has, in some ways, become a pop culture icon in itself — it was even filmed in a scene of Sex and the City, and was name-dropped in the film The Devil Wears Prada.
Now the bakery is an international brand with more than 10 outlets all over the world, and its latest branch is set to open in Manila’s Bonifacio Global City (BGC) this month, on August 22. Here, it will be known under the name M Bakery.
Coconuts Manila attended a preview event this week, where we sampled some of the bakery’s upcoming offerings — including Magnolia Bakery’s cult-favorites, its cupcakes and banana pudding.
We were told that at its core, the new outpost aims to capture the same feel of the quaint bakeshop that opened in Manhattan’s West Village some 20 years ago.
For starters, the place itself is quaint, with only one table for standing customers. Unlike other bake shops in Manila that try to cater to the Starbucks-loving masses, M Bakery does not have any couches and WiFi for lounging around — and that’s a good thing.
This way, the experience feels a bit more personal and focused: It’s about the baked goods. This is seen in their light marble countertops, well-lit cupcake displays, and vintage-inspired menu blackboards.
Highlighted in this menu are Magnolia’s cupcakes, which were mostly made famous after that Sex and the City episode where Carrie and Miranda are seen chomping down on the colorful cakes. According to Erick Larios, Magnolia Bakery’s Director of Franchise Operations, that familiar swirl found on all their cupcakes are actually trademarked in the United States.
We tried the Red Velvet, a light and fluffy maroon-colored cake with chocolate flavoring. Unlike most red velvet cakes in Manila, this one was topped with a light vanilla icing rather than the traditional cream cheese frosting, which can get heavy-feeling and cloyingly sweet.
The Carrie cupcake, named after the central character of Sex and the City, is a vanilla cupcake with a pink buttercream frosting. Yes, it’s cute, and likely to appeal to fans of the show, but if you’re looking for a dessert experience that’ll leave you shook with intense satisfaction, then this one’s a bit too straight-forward for that.
Most of M Bakery’s goods are made with the same buttercream base. The brand actually prides itself on being fondant-free, and its reps point out that they only use buttercream frosting for their multi-tier, custom-made cakes too.
The other big menu item that Magnolia Bakery is known for is its banana pudding, which is also going to be available at its BGC branch.
Like its other products, the banana pudding has that pure-and-simple thing going for it — you can actually feel and taste the original ingredients and can therefore appreciate how they come together in the final product. It’s a rarity in the age of unicorn toast and over-the-top milkshakes.
So, those who may be more used to complex dishes with strong, slap-in-the-face flavors may find this a bit underwhelming, but those who love the essence of homemade baking would love the stuff here.
The icebox cake is another one of Magnolia Bakery’s more popular desserts, a slightly more upscale take on the layered refrigerator cake. Theirs is made with their own chocolate cookies and fresh whipped cream.
Although it looks decadent, the cake is actually pretty light and is a good option if you can’t quite decide between a cupcake or a cookie.
As popular as its cupcakes, banana pudding, and icebox cakes are, we actually liked the lesser-known offerings more.
This includes their calamansi cheesecake, a Filipino-inspired take on the classic key lime pie. It has the creamy consistency you’d find in a good cheesecake, but instead the usual lemon zest, the calamansi gives it a slightly tropical twist.
Their made-from-scratch cookies were especially good — particularly the sea salt caramel chocolate chunk and the cranberry chocolate chunk. These were perfectly chewy and full of flavor, yielding a really satisfying mix of textures. The cookies are also pretty big and can be shared between two people (or not!).
M Bakery opens on Wednesday, August 22 at 2pm. The first five customers in line will be given one large banana pudding every month for one year, while the next 95 will get one small banana pudding on opening day.
M Bakery is still tweaking its menu and pricing but prices for other products will be available on opening day.
Unit 23 Lower Ground Level
One Bonifacio High Street Mall
5th Ave. cor. 28th St.
Bonifacio Global City