Woman walking down the stairs holding a bowl"I have a soft spot for home," says Lucie Franc de Ferriere. The New York-based French baker credits her countryside upbringing as influencing her preferred baking setup. She sets the scene: heat, warmth, and light are ideal. Birdsong and the hum of frogs or chickens, often heard as a child, are still among her favourite sounds. (In a bustling metropolis like New York, her soundtrack skews more contemporary: jazz, podcasts, or audiobooks.) But for Lucie, there's nothing like connection with others in the kitchen. "Just being able to talk to someone and discuss ideas is my favourite kind of a baking day," she notes.

Lucie's values and tastes stem from her dynamic childhood. She learned to bake from her mother, another self-taught baker, who she characterises as "probably the biggest influence in her life." Watching her mother run her own bed and breakfast, creating recipes and rapport with guests, was an influential environment for Lucie. "If you don't do something perfectly but still do it — versus putting so much pressure on yourself that you don't even want to try because you're scared to fail — is a way of living I definitely grew up with."

Woman wearing a trench coat holding flowers

Still, Lucie and her peers were often encouraged to follow a more prescribed career path. After a teacher advised Lucie not to study art history, her mother wouldn't hear of it. "She said [to the teacher], 'Look, I'm from New Zealand, and growing up, we took sewing, cooking, or gardening lessons — things that aren't for an actual job but teach you all about what life is: Having interests over having a life that is just about work.’ It made me feel comfortable about being who I am and diving into that creativity versus suppressing it. That is great for creation — leading a business is a little tougher!" Lucie later obtained a Master's degree in Art History and Culture Studies from the University of Leeds before coming to New York to work as a curator.

While Lucie contends that baking is more of a science, playfulness is still key in maintaining a nourishing business and culinary practice. "You can be very creative with the flavouring," she notes. "I find playfulness in the inspiration from my childhood, vegetable gardens, and my love for chocolate. I get very creative and in my own world when decorating the cakes, too. I like things that are a little quirky and aren't perfect." This idea also extends to Lucie's environment. "There is that long-lasting idea of kitchens being this very stressful world." She references the hit television show The Bear, which captures this severity. "It's mainly women in my kitchen. It's hilarious because they've worked in a lot of male-dominated kitchens before, [where there was] a lot of saying, 'behind!' Instead, we're always saying, 'Sorry, sorry, sorry!' We always say we have to stop apologising!"

Hands dusting icing sugar on a cake

It makes sense that Lucie's namesake bakery is imbued with this rare lightness. Nestled in Manhattan's East Village, From Lucie is a delightful gem atop gum-covered concrete. After being laid off from her gallery job during the pandemic — and unable to visit home — Lucie returned to her roots through baking. She worked alongside her now-husband at his restaurant Sunday to Sunday, and with enough momentum, Lucie recognised the opportunity to bring her creations to the masses.

"I started making cakes and had an Instagram where I shared my adventures," she adds. "Then, I started doing pop-ups around the city, which helped spread the word. I moved into a new apartment with a bigger kitchen so I could bake from there for a while, and I did that for two years." Lucie eventually transformed a small space on East 10th Street into a physical bakery: From Lucie opened its doors in January 2023. "I did crowd-funding and everything. That's when I had one employee with me in my apartment — so not a lot of resources! I was able to hire new people and have an actual professional kitchen, which is pretty amazing."

Details in a yellow bakery; flowers in a floral bag on a chair

For Lucie, it seems that less really does lead to more. Step inside the golden yellow storefront, and you'll be welcomed into a small space with big heart. Sunlight casts soft shadows on the bakery's elegantly decorated walls. The window and counter are outfitted with charming ruffled curtains, which draw the eye toward a case of small loaves, pastries, and cake slices. Behind the register, a flower fridge holding the finishing touches for Lucie's creations sits at the ready. "It's a feeling people get when they walk in," Lucie adds. "When people think of France, they think of Paris. I'm giving them another side, more the south of France, which is a little less seen in the United States."

Location aside, Lucie continuously draws from nature. She recalls wandering the city searching for cakes, only to find that her palate still needed to be satiated as the cakes were too sweet. "I grew up with cakes that used vegetables from the garden like zucchini, carrot, or more herbal ingredients. I really, really like to work with herbs. Bringing nature into my cakes through what I can find at the market is something I like to prioritise."

Street view of the front of a yellow bakery.

Then, of course, there are Lucie's signature flowers. She works seasonally, changing the bakery's menu to incorporate timely florals, foliage, fruits, and vegetables. Once she's built the physical part of the cake, her creativity can flourish — and her process is often intuitive. "I buy flowers that I feel tonally go well together, but I have no idea how they will fit on the cake until I start. It's more that process of starting something, and then I know where I'm going versus preparing for it in advance."

There's also something to be said about the colour palette Lucie has cultivated. She's naturally attuned to spring hues — soothing pastels like light pinks, greens, and peaches — though it depends on her mood. "I was a little worried about feeling myself going in another direction, but I think people enjoy that," Lucie reflects. "It's just true to who I am." These days, darker colors reminiscent of wintery foliage (rich browns and reds, greens gone a little orange) have made their way into Lucie's arsenal. "I like to work with either a very moody style or springy, romantic look." She's also excited by dimension and how height can impact an arrangement. "I started learning to work with branches and different styles of greenery that you can find in winter, which I find beautiful. It almost tells the story of the season. Branches have so much movement, and I love to work with movement on my cakes."

Movement is evidently important in Lucie's approach to both baking and life. She's currently working on her first cookbook and beginning to look toward spring, but she also hopes to embrace the nature of her work by staying present and thoughtfully moving ahead. "I try to bring that story with me in my day-to-day," she says. "It's not just surrounding myself with nature; it's more the lifestyle that goes with it. It's slower. Everything takes more time. You make everything from scratch. That’s something I want to bring a bit more with me this year: taking more time for myself — in the mornings, cooking more at home, having that well-balanced lifestyle that comes with nature around you."

Woman holding a bucket of flowers, stood in front of a fridge

On incorporating flowers in cake displays

"I recommend using non-toxic flowers. Edible flowers are of course the best you can find. That said, it limits the flowers you can have. You can also use non-toxic flowers that aren't as yummy but won't do anything to you if you eat them. If you use toxic flowers, use a water pipette (many florists use them). Add a bit of water, put the stem inside, and put that in buttercream so your flower doesn't touch the cake. I also use a specific tape on certain flowers because sometimes they have excess liquid that comes out when you cut the stem. You want to put solid tape around there so you can put the flowers in your cake."

On styling flowers

"I like to work with height and size: one short flower and a long one next to it give different dimensions. Recently, I've been more drawn to bouquets or arrangements on cakes of the same flower but with different textures. I like the idea of gifting a whole bouquet of the same flowers to someone. It gives the impression that you just went into a garden, cut flowers right next to each other, and brought them home. There is a homemade feeling to it."

On enjoying New York's nature spaces

"Tompkins Square Park is a great dog park, so I love it for that. Otherwise, I live right above Seward Park in the Lower East Side, and I like it because you always meet different people. Sadly, it doesn't have much greenery, but the trees become fun in the spring. Obviously, I love Central Park and take the F train all the way up. Prospect Park is one of the parks where I can get lost and actually feel like I'm not in New York."

Lucie wears the TOAST Catrin Cotton Stripe Raglan Shirt and Garden Floral Waxed Cotton Bucket Bag. The Willow Pottery Nesting Bowls are featured.

Words by Rachel Schwartzmann.

Photography by Ash Bean.

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