For those who still haven’t gotten the word, Magee’s is closing Thursday. And yes, in a matter of weeks new owners will re-open the bakery, even calling it Magee’s.
But why I’m in mourning is knowing that when I pick up my final order Thursday, it will be the last time I am greeted by Alice Schwartz and for the final time, Charlie will come out to the front to greet me and pontificate on something going on in Frankfort.
The bakery has been a part of my growing up and yes, my growing out.
There is hardly anything made by Charlie I don’t love. Even as recently as last Friday, Alice introduced me to something I had never had before – what she called spiced muffins.
“You mean you’ve never had MY spice muffins?” she quizzed.
“Can’t say that I have.”
“Well, these are my recipe and I make them when we have leftover pastries.”
She sent me home with that familiar little white sack and in it were two spice muffins.
Saturday morning I ate one with my coffee.
For the past 25 years I have been in and out of the bakery and although I have occasionally seen these muffins in the display case, I made a horrible assumption they were JUST muffins – not my favorite.
Now just 24 hours from closing, I realize I will never have these muffins again.
Did I tell you they were moist, with cherries or apples or both, depending on the pastry leftover?
Did I tell you they are absolutely delicious and I had to force myself to save the second one for my Sunday morning coffee? Never have I ever exercised such willpower.
I’m sure you have all seen recipes that recommend taking leftover donuts and pastries and creating bread pudding. I’ve tried one or two, but never did they compare with this muffin. It needed no sauce, as bread puddings do – it was a truly decadent bite all by itself.
Therein lies part of my grieving – the opportunity to taste so many of the confections that are made at Magee’s.
Several years ago, I had the good fortune or perhaps it was misfortune for my waistline to work directly next door to Magee’s in the law offices of Jim Boyd and the late Tommy Watkins when the practice closed for a while.
Bill Kirkland had put me to work fundraising for the Paul Sawyier Library that was under construction.
How in the world those men had worked in that office adjacent the bakery without becoming broader than longer is amazing to me.
The aromas that filled the offices were as though I was sitting in the middle of the bakery.
I made a deal with Alice. I intended to bring no money with me to the office and no matter what, she was not to give me any credit; even if I begged.
Well, heck. If you know Alice, that didn’t sit well. She would send Pamela over with something for me. Or if I were walking past the store, she would motion to me to come in as if there were some pressing matter. Then she would produce one of those little white sacks and tell me to take it home with me.
Oh, for heaven’s sake. Then I had to walk in a different direction to completely avoid her.
Thank goodness, my work was short term and Boyd decided to return to his office.
Diana Peters almost cried Friday when she came into the bakery and heard that the store was closing.
“No!” she said loudly. “I’ve been coming in here since 1981.”
My lifelong friend Penny Penn Williams, whom you have all read about and lives in Oklahoma, almost shouted in my ear when I told her over the phone this weekend, “Magee’s is closing.”
“I loved their chocolate éclairs; those homemade cream horns and those little bitty cakes.”
“Petit fours,” I responded trying to give her a name.
“Oh, I loved those, too.”
Sometimes talking to her is like George Burns trying to talk to Gracie Allen.
But it is a story my sister Peggy Meyer reminded me of as we exited the bakery last week that made me realize there was a bit of a deeper connection.
“I wanted to go back just because mom used to work there,” she said as we drove up Main Street to drop off a cherry fried pie to her friend Judy Ziegler.
“Mom didn’t work there,” I replied. “She worked at Winston’s Bakery. It wasn’t there.”
Thanks to Charlie, he put our argument to rest when I interviewed him and he explained his dad had bought Winston’s Bakery and soon changed its name to Magee’s.
Aren’t you glad when you live long enough to understand the truth?
No wonder mom enjoyed baking and was never afraid to try something including doughnuts; she had insider information.
The last thing I will miss about Magee’s is its representation of those specialty stores that perfect one type of product.
We don’t have a butcher here in Frankfort; not even a candlestick maker that I am aware of, but we’ve always had bakers.
We’ll have another bakery sitting right on the corner – sooner than later and I’m sure I’ll be stopping in. But as things go in today’s world, I wonder if all they will sell is baked goods?
So many kids only know foods that come from a store or that perhaps can only be bought from a store.
I think that is what I appreciated about my mom and so many women of her generation, they weren’t afraid to try things – to surprise their children with goodies we thought could only be done by a trained professional or bought from a store – pizza, pot pies, ice cream, popsicles and yes, doughnuts.
Now admittedly, it is so much easier to buy doughnuts from a bakery. They certainly are delicious and pretty hard to replicate.
If you, as mom would say, “ever get the notion” to try your hand at making yeast doughnuts, here’s a fairly easy recipe.
3-3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 packages active dry yeast
¾ cup milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
¼ cup shortening
1 teaspoon salt
Shortening or cooking oil for deep frying
In a large mixer bowl, place one and one-half cups of the flour and the yeast. In a saucepan heat milk, sugar, ¼ cup shortening and salt just till warm (115 to 120 degrees) and shortening is almost melted. Stir constantly. Add mixture to flour and add eggs. Beat at low speed of mixer for 30 seconds, scraping bowl often. Then beat mixture for three minutes on high speed. Stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can with a spoon.
Pour dough out onto a lightly floured board. Knead in enough of the remaining flour to make a moderately, soft dough that is smooth and elastic (3-5 minutes). Shape into a ball. Place in a lightly greased bowl; turn once to grease surface of dough. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until double (1 to 1 ½ hours).
Punch down; turn onto a lightly floured surface. Divide in half. Cover; let rest 10 minutes. Roll each half of dough to ½-inch thickness. Cut with floured donut cutter or two sizes of biscuit cutters.
Cover doughnuts and let rise until very light (45 to 60 minutes).
Heat oil or shortening to 375 degrees. Carefully from the side of the pan, slide in two or three doughnuts; fry about one minute. Turn and fry about one minute more. Remove and drain. Glaze with Powdered Sugar Icing or shake in a bag of granulated sugar.
This recipe will make 16 to 18 doughnuts and the same number of doughnut holes.