You could throw a croissant in New York and hit an award-winning French bakery. In fact, the city is so loaded down with them it would probably sink if their delicate confectionaries weren’t light as air. But maybe you’ve been dazzled by the pastries at Dominique Ansel or Bien Cuit one too many times, and now you’ve decided that you have to learn the art of French pâtisserie yourself. Pas de problème—despite the closure of many of the city’s best cooking schools during Covid, and some apocalyptic whispers that pastry chefs are disappearing from restaurants, there are still some places where you can learn to make your cake, and eat it too.
1. Atelier Sucré
Atelier Sucré in the East Village is the project of Nantes native Simon Herfray, who founded his own catering and educational pastry company back in 2014 after cutting his teeth at some of the best restaurants in London and New York. Chef Simon teaches a variety of courses on how to make croissants, madeleines, macarons, chocolate mousse, crème brûlée, and more. Each class runs between 2.5-3 hours, and costs $90 (but you might get a discount if you book through CocuSocial). Slight discounts are offered for groups of 2, 3, or 4, and entry is $65 for children. Students work in groups of 4, and classes run weekday evenings at 6:30pm, and throughout the day Saturday and Sunday.
104 East 7th Street, New York, NY 10009
Though it started as a slice of the American Dream in the East Village for French couple Olivier and Nathalie Dessyn, the bakery Mille-Feuille has grown to accommodate additional Upper West Side and Prospect Heights locations. The name, which can be translated as “thousand pages,” is a cheeky reference to the nearby Bobst Library. The bakery offers croissant classes and macaron classes, which last 2-2.5 hours, and cost $150 per person, with discounts for couples or groups. Classes are capped at 6 people, and you’ll leave with either 24 macarons or a dozen croissants (plain, chocolate, and almond), plus extra raw croissant dough you can use at home. Classes sell out early and take place mostly on weekends, or occasional Friday evenings.
552 LaGuardia Place New York, NY 10012
3. Institute of Culinary Education
One of the most well-known culinary schools in the world, New York’s Institute of Culinary Education has produced many of the chefs, and pastry chefs, that make the city’s culinary landscape what it is. But in addition to their rigorous certification programs, they also offer a large selection of recreational courses in cooking and pastry. Individual courses, like a 3-hour intro to Classic French Desserts, will start you around $125. More in-depth courses, like a Two-Day Croissant & Brioche Workshop, will go for $400, but cover two 6-hour sessions. They also offer a 12-session Introduction to Pastry & Baking Intensive at $2,400, which takes place over the course of twelve 6-hour Sunday sessions. These courses might be better suited to those toying with the idea of a career in pastry, who don’t yet want to make a commitment to a full-time culinary school degree.
225 Liberty Street, Third Floor, New York, NY 10281
4. NY Cake Academy
While the NY Cake Academy specializes in training the next generation of cake decorators, this baking goods supply shop also offers a wide range of interesting classes for beginners. Among the various cake-related classes is an Intro to Macarons, usually scheduled around lunchtime on a weekday. Not ideal for nine-to-fivers, but an option for those with more flexible schedules. The 2-hour sessions cost $125 per person.
118 W 22nd St, New York, NY 10011
5. The Village Kitchen
The Village Kitchen is a small, independent cooking school off Washington Square Park where you’ll feel like you’re getting a private class from your cool chef neighbor. They have a course called The Great Baking where you’ll learn how to make fruit tarts, eclairs, cream puffs, and bread. The average class size is about 8 people, and costs $130 per person. Classes run every Friday evening from 6-9pm.
Greenwich Village, 109 Macdougal St Ste 2, New York, NY 10012
Catherine Rickman is a writer and professional francophile who has lived in Paris, New York, and Berlin. She is currently somewhere in Brooklyn with a fork in one hand and a pen in the other, and you can follow her adventures on Instagram @catrickman.