Pastry Classes in Paris at Ecole Ritz Escoffier

Planning our summer holidays in France has me reflecting on everything I’ve loved from our previous trips. There are so many things that I love and so many places I want to return to, but I am also itching for new adventures. When everything is good, it’s hard to want to find more good things. If you had asked me how I would spend my summer a few years ago, I would not have told you that I’d be taking pastry classes in Paris. I always have a bit of nostalgia for those weeks when things feel super stressful. This year is no exception.

Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links for tours and products I love at no additional cost to you.  You can read my full disclosure policy here.

About the Ecole Ritz Escoffier

The Ritz Escoffier is the cooking school of the famous Ritz Paris. They offer a variety of cooking and pastry classes for individuals of every skill level. Standards are high, not only for the dishes you learn to make, but also for the participants in the class. The master chefs want to ensure that you come away with incredible skills. I love it because it’s challenging. I have had the opportunity to learn from some the best pastry chefs in France. Though the classes are translated, I leave with a lot more French knowledge. (Listening and reading is not my problem; speaking is a whole different challenge!)

I fell in love with the pastries at the Ritz Paris after we started having nightcaps at Bar Vendome in 2019. (It’s one of my favorite splurges in Paris!) During 2020, I found out that the head pastry chef at the Ritz Paris, Francois Perret, published French Pastry with recipes from the hotel. The book was so beautiful and the recipes were so daunting. I didn’t even attempt to make them. In December 2021, I saw Francois Perret offered a Bûche De Noël class. I took my first class at the Ritz Paris in February 2022. I’ve been taking their classes ever since!

Journey of Doing - pastry classes in Paris
My talented and slightly spicy classmates in 2023!

Choosing Pastry Classes in Paris

Even after spending a week at the Ritz Paris Escoffier last year, my skills are basic. No matter how long I’ve enjoyed baking, I’m definitely an amateur. I loved everything we made, and I wanted to diversify my portfolio. I chose another pastry class with a mostly different menu. It also worked really well with our travel schedule. It allowed us to finish our three week trip in Paris, our airport of choice. It’s really important to consider your skill level, as well as your interest in the menu when you are choosing a class.

If this is your first time, you might consider taking a shorter pastry course. (I took a one day course as my first pastry class in Paris.) The Escoffier offers half day classes, which I usually take during our Christmas holidays in Paris. This allowed me to get a sense of whether I could keep up with the French instruction and whether I would feel overwhelmed as a true novice.

In all of the classes I’ve taken at the Ritz, people have been very kind. However, the attendees at the Ritz Escoffier are usually professionals who are taking classes as professional development. I think you really have to think about why you’re taking the class and what you hope to get out of it. If you are looking for something more low-key, there are plenty of cooking and pastry classes in Paris that are less intense.

Journey of Doing - Click here for a non-sponsored review about my week at pastry school in Paris, including everything I learned to make!
My lovely and talented classmates for the week in 2022!

Traditional French Pastry Class

Last summer, the pastry classes I took were focused around layered mousse cakes, gateaux de voyage, and a regional specialties. I was introduced to the incredible gateaux Basque. (I am excited to encounter this on my future travels!) This year’s class was focused on some of the more popular French pastries and Chef Martin Millouet added some very interesting regional specialities for us. There were only 4 of us in 2022, and in 2023 there were 8 of us. The dynamic felt a bit different with the larger classes. I was paired with Eliana for the entire week. She was a recent college graduate who was using her time off to take a few different cooking classes. I felt like we were a good match in terms of interest and skill. (I did miss Filip and Melody from my class last year though.)

Chef Millouet’s personality and teaching style was a lot different than Chef Jardin, but he did strike a good balance between making the class fun and ensuring that we learned a lot. He treated the week as a challenge competition. We started the class with some “easy” recipes and worked up to the pièce de résistance. This worked really well because our class was at a more novice level that our class last year.

When you take the weeklong pastry classes at the Ritz Pars, the day typically runs from 9:00-3:00 with hour break for lunch. We always book a hotel nearby so I can come home and rest during the break. For the past two summers, we’ve stayed at the Hotel Dress Code in the 9th arrondissement. It’s less than a 10 minute walk from the Ritz Paris. In June 2024, we stayed at Hotel de Seze in the 9th arrondissement. It would be a great option for a weeklong class.

Journey of Doing - Paris pastry classes
This dough was the bane of my existence. Our performance with this dough throughout the week was the bane of Chef’s existence.
Journey of Doing - Paris pastry classes
In Paris, chef means boss… and Chef Martin is definitely a pastry boss who means business.
Journey of Doing - Paris pastry classes

Pastry Class One – Macarons and Carmels

Our first day started with introductions and a discussion of what we would cover for the week. Everyone is always a little nervous, but Chef tries to break the ice quickly.

One thing I love is that the Ritz Paris always focuses on seasonal ingredients. Our first pastry class was spent making peach macarons and passion fruit caramels. It was meant to be an easy introduction to French pastries and the skills that we would need for the rest of the week. Last year, we made large raspberry macarons on our first day, but this year, we focused on making the more traditional macarons. I am sad to say that my macaron piping skills were quite rusty. I found the smaller ones much more difficult to control, and as a result, I ended up with a variety of sizes.

The passion fruit caramels were *relatively* easy to make and we used molds to create their shapes. The skill development was really focused on not burning the caramel. We also started making the pastry dough that would become the bane of my existence. (More on that later.)

That evening, we headed to our favorite wine and cheese tasting in Paris. I took my macarons to Erwan who remembered I had taken pastry classes in Paris last year and was excited to try them. (Apparently I earned the stamp of approval from him, as well as his wife. I’ll take that as a first day win.)

We ended the day with souffles for dinner at Le Recamier. Recamier is one of my sister’s favorite restaurants and it has a lovely outdoor seating area.

Journey of Doing - macaron class in Paris
Journey of Doing - pastry classes at Ritz Paris
These passion fruit caramels were easy to make and looked very professional.
Journey of Doing - macaron class at Ritz Paris Escoffier

Pastry Class Two – Paris Brest

Our second pastry class was focused on one of my favorite French pastries, the Paris Brest. Paris Brest is named for a bicycle race between Paris and Brest. It is made of choux pastry and filled with hazelnut praline. Usually, the Paris Brest is made as a circle to represent a bicycle wheel. However, Chef has a different idea. We made linear pasties to represent the direction between Paris and Brest.

Choux pastry is one of the fundamentals of French pastry. It’s one of the first things I learned to make in my first pastry class in Paris. I’m completely fascinated by it. It rises beautifully but it’s completely hollow so that it’s easy to fill. And, it can be used for sweet and savory pastries.

In addition to Paris Brest, we made choupettes. These can be covered with crystalized sugar or filled with Chantilly cream for an easy sweet treat. Thankfully, choupettes are more forgiving than macarons of my poor piping skills, but Chef was not impressed. We ended the class with another pass with my most challenging pastry dough.

We made everything in a single class: choux, pastry cream, and hazelnut praline. While my Paris Brest didn’t come out quite as beautiful as the pastries in Bayeux, they were tasty.

Fittingly, we ended the day with dinner at Bistro Paul Bert, the Paris restaurant where I first tried Paris Brest.

Journey of Doing - pastry classes in Paris
Journey of Doing - pastry classes in Paris
Choux pastry is a base for many French pastries and is perfect for sweet and savory treats!
Journey of Doing - hazelnut praline
Journey of Doing - making Paris Brest in Paris
Journey of Doing - French pastry class in Paris

Pastry Class Three – Strawberry Fraisier

Our third pastry class was my favorite because it was something I made last year! (A week in French pastry school can feel really long when you’re constantly processing new language and new techniques!) The fraisier has origins from Auguste Escoffier and is made with almond sponge cake, vanilla cream, and fresh strawberries. The Ritz Paris version includes kirsch (a cherry liqueur) and marzipan.

What I love about this cake is that it looks really complicated and presents beautifully. Personally, I think it’s one of the easiest things to make that I’ve learned at the Ritz Escoffier. It is the perfect summer cake. It’s served cold, strawberries are in season, and the pasty cream makes it light.

True to the art of pastry, we were able to decorate these differently than we did last year. We constructed a more traditional strawberry fraisier last year. Chef showed us a completely different technique. I was very pleased with out mine turned out. And, thankfully, my decorating of the fraisier was better than my Paris Brest.

We decided to have an easy dinner at Racina in the Latin Quarter. This is a Sicilian restaurant that we love. The ambiance of the Latin Quarter in the summer is spectacular, too.

Journey of Doing - Strawberry fraisier in Paris
Journey of Doing - Strawberry fraisier in Paris
Journey of Doing - pastry class in Paris
Journey of Doing - pastry classes at Ritz Escoffier in Paris
My strawberry fraisiers in 2022 (left) and 2023 (right)!

Pastry Class Four – Marble Cake

Every time I’ve taken the longer pastry classes in Paris, there’s a day that is a complete doozy. You get too comfortable with your classmates and you’re tired. Things go wrong. My first year, that was on Wednesday. This year, it was Thursday. No matter what we tried on Thursday morning, Elaina and I could not get things to go right. None of us could get our fourth day of mille feuille pastry dough to look like Chef’s. Chef was not impressed.

I went back to my hotel room at lunch and thought about skipping the afternoon session. But, I went back… and Chef found that our marble cakes had fallen while baking. It was a rough morning at the ecole.

Last year, we made individual marble cakes. This year, we made it in a traditional loaf shape. That required us to drizzle the entire cake with a chocolate glaze. I was TERRIFIED that I was going to drop it. (I’m telling you, it was a BAD day.) However, with the help of Chef, we all survived, and somehow, our marble cakes come out looking fairly decent. My decor skills were lacking, but honestly, I was just glad I didn’t destroy the entire thing. Our marble cakes were decorated with hazelnuts and gold leaf.

We wrapped up the day by making a pistachio praline and preparing to make Canelés on Friday. I promise you, none of us were sorry to see class wrap up on Thursday.

I was so grouchy that I insisted that we have an apertif at Le Montmartre before heading to dinner. Dinner was at Sacree Fleur, one of our most favorite restaurants in Paris. It is always comfortable and they always make us feel so welcome.

Journey of Doing - Ritz Paris marble cake baking class
Journey of Doing - baking classes in Paris
Journey of Doing - cooking classes in Paris
The 2023 marble cake before and after serving!
Journey of Doing - cooking classes in Paris
The individual marble cakes we made at the Ritz Paris Escoffier in 2022!

Pastry Class Five – Mille Feuille, Canelés, and Biscuit de Savoie

Our last day of pasty school fell on Bastille Day. So, while Tom attended the parade and flyover on the Champs Elysees, I was finishing off my pastries. Since we had extra time, Chef added Canelés and a Savoie cake to our repertoire. Canelés are small rum cakes from Bordeaux that are actually quite complex. We made the traditional version, as well as a chocolate Canelé. The Savoie cake is similar to a Kugelhopf from Alsace. Each was made as an individual serving, while the mille feuille, was made as a large pastry.

Thankfully, Friday was a bit more smooth than Thursday. We started off baking our mille feuille. Despite the challenges of the week, it turned out crisp and flaky. Once our mille feuille was baked, it was time to cut it with surgical precision. The layers have to be perfectly equal for construction. Talk about pressure. Thankfully the Ritz Paris literally has everything you need to create picture perfect pastries. (They also give you a list of where to shop for pastry supplies in Paris!) Once we constructed the mille feuille with its layers of pastry cream and pistachio praline, it was time to turn it on its side. (Again, talk about pressure.) Somehow my mille feuille and I survived though. We boxed up our Canelés, our Savoie sponge cakes, and our mille feuille for a truly French Bastille Day celebration later that evening.

Journey of Doing - pastry classes in Paris
Journey of Doing - Canale class in France
I love learning recipes from different regions of France to inspire my future travels!
Journey of Doing - learn to make millefeuille in Paris
Journey of Doing - learn to make millefeuille in Paris
Journey of Doing - learn to make millefeuille in Paris
Assembling this was easy – until Chef told us to turn it on its side.
Journey of Doing - learning to make millefeuille in Paris
Journey of Doing - pastry classes in Paris
The piece de resistance!!!

The End of my Pastry Classes in Paris

At the end of any pastry class at the Ritz Paris, Chef will hand out certificates and you celebrate with a glass of champagne. For me, the end of class always brings a feeling of relief, sadness, and nostalgia.

First, I’m really proud that I can spend a week in a French pastry class in Paris and not give up. My brain works in overdrive trying to translate and most skills don’t come naturally to me. Second, I meet so many interesting people through these experiences and I miss not seeing them again. (Thankfully, I do get to keep up with some of them via social media!) And third, there’s something truly lovely about doing something simply because you wanted to learn it or do it.

Our Bastille Day celebration included a room with an Eiffel Tower view at the Hyatt Etoile. We enjoyed our pastries and we watched the Bastille Day fireworks. I can’t think of a more fitting end to my second summer pasty class the Ritz Paris pastry school.

Journey of Doing - One of my favorite things is take pastry classes in Paris at the Ritz Paris Escoffier! Check out everything I learned to make my second year!
Elaina and I survived a week at the Ritz Paris Escoffier and so did our Savoie and Canelés!

Follow along with Sara!

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