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Holiday Baking Tips from Magnolia Bakery's Chief Baking Officer Bobbie Lloyd

Bobbie Lloyd is Chief Baking Officer for the nationally acclaimed Magnolia Bakery, based out of New York, with stores in Los Angeles and Dubai that has been featured in several television shows and movies as the place for cupcakes, banana pudding and icebox cakes. We even sent them to our very own Babble editors for boss’s day here at Family Kitchen. A working mother, Bobbie knows all about the craziness of the holidays, running from school programs to holiday parties and back and forth again. She took a minute out of her day to talk to me and pass along a few tips and techniques on staying sane during the holiday season. Additionally, she was kind enough to share Magnolia’s famous ice box cake recipe. Be sure to check it out for a quick and easy, no-bake holiday dessert.

When asked how she plans her holiday baking, Bobbie had of course been up that very morning baking up a storm: “I’m a working mom, so my holiday baking is always planned around what can I do in stages. Just this morning I was making muffins for my son…and I had put the dry ingredients together before, measure and done, so all I have to do is add the wet ingredients in the morning and put it in the oven. Holiday baking is less stressful when you can bake in parts.”

If you’re looking to mail cookies to loved ones for Christmas, Bobbie has some great tips on the best way to pack baked goods for shipping: “Choose the right kind of cookies. Shortbread style cookies are perfect. Snowball, Mexican wedding cakes, Russian teacakes don’t ship well because they’re too fragile, but a sugar cookie, refrigerator cookie not a high butter content. Pack them in cellophane bags with ribbon and then in a tin with tissue paper and they should travel well and undamaged.”

Bobbie is a huge fan of planning ahead and breaking up the steps. She told me, “For cookies: just plan ahead. Make your dough Monday, roll the dough Wednesday and decorate on Friday. Don’t try to do it all on one day. You’ll drive yourself crazy.” I know I’ve been driven crazy by late-night cookie baking sessions, despite the best intentions. They always seem to take a little bit longer than expected, and breaking it into steps makes things manageable.

Planning on baking a cake to serve? “Add shelf like to your cake: if you want to make a cake a few days in advance, after your cakes are completely cooled, brush with a little bit of flavored sugar syrup. Wedding cakes are done this way oftentimes to keep the cake moist; it is moistened with a sugar syrup and skim coat.”

Speaking of cakes, here are a few tips to help yours come out moist and evenly cooked.

  • Calibrate your oven temperature to ensure the oven isn’t too hot. Also check for hot spots in your oven. It may be necessary to rotate your cakes while they bake to achieve an even doneness all the way through.
  • Never overbeat your batter. This can cause your cake to dome when baked.
  • Butter recipes are pound cake type cake and different crumb. Oil versus butter creates different density. Oil-based moister, spongier and last longer.
  • For multi-layered cakes, take single layer and cut in half to make 4 layers with thin layers of butter cream. This helps to moisten layers and keep them that way.
  • Cupcakes are so quick and easy to make. Consider them in place of a large cake if you’re pressed for time.

Good luck with your holiday baking!

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