<b><big><center>Introduction</center></big></b><P>When we first opened the Magnolia Bakery, we imagined a cozy, old-fashioned shop where people could come for a cup of coffee and something sweet. We expected our customers to include some local regulars and lots of neighborhood families. We thought we'd close at seven each evening so we could go home and make dinner. We never expected that Magnolia would turn into a city-wide hangout, much less that on weekend nights there would be lines out the door!<P>The Magnolia Bakery came into being over a brunch conversation during which Jennifer and I expressed for the umpteenth time our mutual frustration with our jobs and lifestyles. We finally decided that something would be done about it and opened up a wholesale baking business in early 1996. We soon received very positive feedback from our customers. When a retail space became available in our favorite neighborhood, we grabbed the opportunity. New York City's West Village seemed ideal. It was low-key and family-oriented, a place where we could do what we loved where we loved it. Over the course of two months and with the help of an adept construction crew, we transformed an empty shell into a warm cozy kitchen.<P>Our customers would stop by as much for the feel of the store as they did for the desserts. With its vintage American decor and desserts, customers often told us that walking into the bakery was just like stepping back in time to their grandmother's kitchen. They would come in for a slice of cake and end up with a little piece of their childhood. Over the years, people have wanted to meet us to say thanks for making the red velvet cake they remembered from church picnics or the banana pudding just like their mom used to make. While the business itself was fast paced and hectic at times, our original aim and values remained the same: we simply did everything the oldfashioned way, using the best and freshest ingredients, and took the time to produce delicious homemade treats.<P>A few years into business together, Jennifer left Magnolia to open up her own bakery, The Buttercup Bake Shop in midtown Manhattan. After the publication of <I>The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook</i>, many people 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, I was able to move full time to my 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. I created the recipes for <I>More From Magnolia</i> in an old-fashioned style, but with new ideas and different combinations of ingredients to keep things interesting and fun.<P>As the unexpected popularity of our cupcakes grew, the bakery got busier and busier and the lines got longer and longer. After ten wonderful years at Magnolia, I decided to sell the business to stay home full time with my growing family. The new owners have opened more Magnolia Bakeries and continue to be successful.<P>This collection of recipes brings together all of the recipes in both Magnolia cookbooks -- classic American desserts reflecting the sensibilities of the bakery and my home.<P>Allysa Torey<P>Introduction copyright © 2009 by Allysa Torey <BR><BR><i>Continues...</i> <!-- copyright notice --> <br></pre> <blockquote><hr noshade size='1'><font size='-2'> Excerpted from <b>The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook</b> by <b>Jennifer Appel</b> Copyright © 2009 by Jennifer Appel. Excerpted by permission.<br> All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.<br>Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.