10 Best Baking Classes Around the World
Yearning to make your own glistening tart worthy of a French patisserie? Get in on the excitement of the world’s confectionary craze with our guide to the best places to learn how to make everything from classic pastries to newly anointed iconic sweets around the globe.
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International Culinary Center, New York and California
After decades of educating students in fundamental French techniques, the iconic cooking school in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood formerly known as the French Culinary Institute expanded to become the ICC, and added another campus in California’s Silicon Valley. Famous food names Bobby Flay, Dan Barber, and Christina Tosi are just a few on the illustrious alumni list. Aspiring bakers can enroll in a professional program in Pastry Arts, Cake Techniques & Design, or the Art of International Bread Baking, while curious cooks can sign up for one of the many one-day recreational courses—Cream Puffs; Eclairs & More; Donuts, Fritters & More; Macaroons & Madeleines; and even local NYC specialties of bagels and pretzels all sound good to us.
International Culinary Education (ICE), New York
Knead, frost, and taste your way through a comprehensive collection of pastry and baking classes at ICE in NYC. Their lineup of niche treats is ideal for enthusiasts who want to nerd out on a specific baked goodie. Choose from dozens of recreational classes including The Artisan Doughnut, Brioche Brunch; Truffles, Truffles, Truffles; Making Artisan Cheesecake; or Shortcakes and Cobblers—and then take home the fruits of your labor.
Culinary Institute of America
In addition to their renowned full-time programs across all culinary disciplines, the CIA offers Saturday Kitchens baking classes in Hyde Park, N.Y., St. Helena, California and San Antonio, Texas for those looking to take a class in their famed kitchens. Beginning bakers, seasoned gourmets, and all-around food lovers get instruction and guidance from expert CIA chefs, as well as an official CIA apron and chef’s hat. Try: Everything Chocolate, Pies & Tarts, Gluten-Free Baking, and Baking for Brunch.
Magnolia Bakery, N.Y.C., Chicago and L.A.
The birthplace of the country’s cupcake craze, Magnolia Bakery in NYC now offers icing classes to aspiring cupcake confectioners in three of its locations across the country—Manhattan (Upper West Side store), Chicago, and Los Angeles. Each hour and a half class has a theme, from classic to specialty-filled and holiday-decorated cupcakes, and features techniques such as flower cupcakes, piped cupcakes, inscriptions, and even Magnolia Bakery’s signature cupcake swirl. For icing on the cake, participants take home their sweet treats—six cupcakes or a full cake, depending on the class.
Hot Stove Society, Seattle, Washington
Tom Douglas is the king of Seattle cuisine and you can learn a thing or two (or more) from the mastermind and his team at his Hot Stove Society cooking school. The year-round cooking school, operated by Tom Douglas Restaurants and led by director Bridget Charters, is located in a bright industrial space inside the stylish Hotel Andra (and as an extra perk, the hotel offers a 20 percent discount on room rates for students taking a class). Learn how to bake their world famous Triple Coconut Cream Pie (President Obama is a fan), or seasonal shortcakes with pastry chef Stacy Fortner. Junior chefs can get started with a Kids Baking Series featuring cupcakes, cakes, muffins, quick breads, biscuits, or two-day Teen Bread Baker course.
San Francisco Cooking School
As a long-time instructor at San Francisco’s beloved Tante Marie’s Cooking School, Jodi Liano’s program focuses on “culinary intuition”—arming students with the crucial skills needed to work successfully in the industry. Opened in the fall of 2012, San Francisco Cooking School offers more than 70 hands-on recreational cooking classes, the largest program of recreational classes on the West Coast. Their lineup of amazingly-fun baking topics includes donuts and fritters, summer pies, cookie decorating, and more. Aspiring pros can partake in Plue’s Pastry Workshop “Repertoire Series” of chocolate cake, lemon tart, pavlova, and pâte à choux, taught by award-winning Head Pastry Instructor Nicole Plue.
Le Cordon Blue, Paris, France
While sadly the schools in the U.S. are in the process of closing, pastry enthusiasts can still make a pilgrimage to Paris to take a short course at the penultimate in gourmet culinary education, Le Cordon Bleu. These culinary workshops take place in practical or demonstration classrooms and give small groups of participants as much exposure as possible to the environment of a professional kitchen. Uncover your passion for pastry with: The Secrets of Macaroons, The Secrets of Eclairs, The Secrets of Tarts, Financiers, Pound Cakes and Cakes Workshop, Tart Workshop, Making Your Own Bread, or Freshly Baked Pastries.
Le Gargantua, Anzex, France
This week-long pastry course tucked away in a restored farmhouse in the French countryside near Bordeaux is a nice compliment to the bigger names and bigger cities on the list. At Le Gargantua, the host’s kind and generous hospitality includes lodging, all meals, local wine, and field trips to bakeries in the nearby town. The course covers a comprehensive list of French show-stopping staples, from eclairs with a variety of crème pâtissière fillings to tarte au citron with a pâte sablée crust, and is appropriate for beginners and more advanced students alike. Local immersion in such an idyllic setting proves that sometimes there really is nothing like learning in the heart of where things started.
Bread Ahead, London, United Kingdom
The Bread Ahead bakery school opened in February 2014 in the heart of London’s foodie heaven, Borough Market, and excels in showing the public just how easy baking good bread from a variety of cuisines can be. Founders Matt Jones (of Flour Power City) and Justin Gellatly (formerly Head Baker at St. John Bakery) love great bread, and their robust lineup of baking classes includes workshops on donuts, pizza, croissants, and super specialized lessons in Middle Eastern Flatbread, Celtic Baking, Nordic Baking, and even the popular German Christmas bread, Stollen. Not sure where to start? The donuts are to-die-for.
Ballymaloe Cookery, Shanagarry, County Cork, Ireland
World renowned for its 12-week intensive certificate program, Ballymaloe Cookery School also offers day-long, week-long, and afternoon courses on its 100-acre organic farm in southeast Ireland on the edge of the Irish Sea. The curriculum focuses on Irish, British, and French classics, and baking sessions include: Afternoon Tea & Cakes, Decorating Celebration Cakes, along with numerous home entertaining and holiday courses. Get a taste of the school with a short course, but cooking enthusiasts should be forewarned that they may be tempted to stay for the entire three-month immersive course—the cows are just that cute.