12 best bakeries in NYC {keep your dreams alive}

Are you pursuing your big dreams?

I’ve decided not to give up on a few prominent ones I have.

I could have given up on them so many times and indeed there have been long stretches when I’ve put these projects “on the shelf.” Out of frustration. Out of wanting to give myself a mental break. Out of pessimistic thoughts of “Maybe I can’t do this?”

Oh, that lizard mind can wreak havoc on our dreams, right? (If you don’t know about the lizard mind, I suggest learning about it. I first discovered the lizard brain concept from my friend Sherold Barr.)

But I am doing it. It doesn’t matter how much time has lapsed. Time doesn’t matter here (lizard mind had told me otherwise).

I’ve always wanted to write a cookbook and I metaphorically dusted off a proposal I started a few years ago. I am diving in—and I am excited about it. I have a unique vantage point when it comes to cooking and I am standing behind it and flowing with it.

I am also revising my novel, The Patisserie of Dreams, for the umpteenth time.

The novel is a big dream I’ve been working on for years. I could have given up by now, but why would I when it’s my dream—and something I love doing?

Here is some feedback I’ve received:

“I couldn’t put the book down even though I had piles and piles of work to do.” (From a top agent who represents Julia Glass and Scott Turow.)

“I just love this story. love the concept—everything about it is charming and exactly the type of book I am looking for.” (From an agent in London.)

BUT, and there is (was?) always a but. BUT–>no more BUTS.

  • One agent said it sat between literary and commercial and she wasn’t sure what she could do with it.
  • One said she wanted to get into the main character’s head a bit more so that we could learn more about her personality.
  • One said he didn’t want all the clues handed to the main character on a silver platter.

BUT (another but, a good one this time), all three mentioned above want to read it again, if I revisit it.

So, instead of thinking, “I want someone to take it the way it is,” I am forging ahead and looking at it with fresh eyes.

Not, “woe is me” eyes, not “ugh, what a chore” eyes, “not, I am a horrible person/writer because I didn’t nail this down yet” eyes, but “wow, I get to sit here sipping my non-alcoholic Kir Royale and rewrite a book. How fun! How exciting! And there’s another fun (and rather amazing) aspect: a movie producer friend is interested in the movie rights—we shook hands and everything. But I want to get this into book form first.

I love this quote:

The only time you fail is when you give up. That one rings true for me. No giving up here. No, no, no.

Thus my plans for the summer are simple: entertain my daughter when she finishes Pre-K, write cookbook proposal and revise The Patisserie of Dreams—whether I have 1 or 8 hours a day, this is my focus.

What are your big dreams? What are you doing each day to pursue them?

Since my novel, The Patisserie of Dreams, takes place in a bakery in NYC (Chloe, the main character, inherits the bakery from her maternal grandmother, whom she’s never met), I thought I’d share 10 of my favorite bakeries, in no particular order.

Francois Payard Bakery

Francois Payard Bakery

12 Best Bakeries in NYC

Patisserie Claude/187 West 4th St in the West Village
All you need to know when you go here: chocolate croissant. This no frills bakery offers a tiny slice of Paris in the West Village and the croissants are (somewhat) comparable to those in Paris. Go in the morning when they’re just out of the oven for warm, buttery goodness.

Colson Patisserie/374 9th St in Park Slope, Brooklyn
The stroller set in Park Slope love coming here for the ever-evolving Belgian goodies. (This is the NY outpost of a patisserie in Belgium.) Here you’ll find classic European tarts, cookies and bread, plus lunch items if you want something savory before enjoying a flour less chocolate cake, salted caramel tart or creme caramel.

Duane Park Patisserie/179 Duane Street/Tribeca
You’ll feel like you’ve walked into someone’s apartment, not a store, when you enter Duane Park Patisserie, which sits on a cute triangle in Tribeca. This is the place for traditional cakes and cookies, plus whoopie pies, tarts and muffins. S and I came here on a cold winter day and had hot chocolate, too.

Bien Cuit/120 Smith St/Boerum Hill, Brooklyn
I stumbled upon this bakery when I was strolling down Smith Street one day. Oh, the bread (rye + sunflower, olive, traditional sourdough)! Oh, the pastries (artichoke and goat cheese croissant, cassis danish)! Oh, the desserts (heirloom orange and bergamot tart with rosemary chocolate ganache, banana + bourbon tart)!

Four & Twenty Blackbirds/439 3rd Avenue in Brooklyn
This place is all about pie, and not just run of the mill apple, cherry and blueberry. This place serves such pies as: salted caramel apple, birch beer float, salty honey and black bottom oat. If pie’s your thing, run over here for a slice.

Baked/359 Van Brunt Street/Red Hook, Brooklyn
Oh Baked, how you tempt me with your brownies, cakes, especially your famous Sweet + Salty cake, and those campfire cookies. Oh yes, those could make me a regular. Love you but glad I don’t live too close.

Sugar Sweet Sunshine/126 Rivington Street/Lower East Side
Crazily enough, the cupcake craze is still going strong in New York, and though Magnolia and the other cupcakes havens have seen their day in the sweet sunshine, low-key Sugar sweet Sunshine still delivers. Their homemade cupcakes in classic flavors make a great treat once in a while. And the price is right, too: you won’t find $5 cupcakes here, only $1.50.

Francois Payard/116 West Houston St + other locations
Pastries (ooh, the eclair and opera cake), bread and chocolate from a renowned French pastry chef…need I say more?

La Macaron du Macaron/132 West 23rd St/Chelsea
The array of macarons here—those delicate French “cookies” with a crunchy outside and chewy inside—is astounding. Fleur de del, rose, pistachio, vanilla, Champagne black fig…the list goes on.

Mille Feuille/552 LaGuardia Place
Another great place for macarons, plus other French treats (chocolate mousse, fruit tarts and the eponymous mille feuille cake made of layers of puff pastry and cream) from the owner who studied at the Ritz Cooking School in Paris.

Momofuku Milk Bar/251 East 13th St + other locations
Momofuku Ssam Bar is one of my favorite restaurants and just behind it sits its whimsical bakery, run by the uber-sweet and talented Christina Tosi. I met her last year at an event for Scharffen Berger chocolate and tasted many of her treats. She’s known for her old school with a twist desserts including: crack pie, compost cookies and cereal milk. Come here and be surprised!

Balthazar Bakery/80 Spring St/SoHo
Come here for rustic bread, croissants, French pastries and a cappuccino, then sit outside for some fascinating people-watching.

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