On the spot with The Baking Lab

***Versione italiana sotto***

Cupcakes in Italy? Who would’ve ever thought they’d become a hit. But while cupcake shops dot the city of Milan, Lecco had nada until a very talented baker came along and decided to open The Baking Lab in Piazza XX Settembre. This baker also happens to be a blogger that I came to “know” around 2005 through her first blog Sogni & Pensieri (Dreams & Thoughts), but only recently did we finally(!) get the chance to meet while stopping in for a visit this past Saturday. Cupcakes, cookies and savory tarts were on display behind glass cases, prompting my greedy stomach to proclaim snack time. Still, I have to admit the burning question on my mind was this: Why open a place that specializes in anglo-saxon/american items?

Breaktime at TBL

Gaia Borroni is the driving force behind a dream that became reality. And while I’m glad that now there’s a place for cupcakes right here in Lecco – I love the Foresta Nera – I’m even more grateful that we had the opportunity to talk shop about her fledgling business.

What made you decide to open this kind of pastry shop with anglo-saxon style pastries?
There are many traditional pastry shops and I’m not interested in the old-style italian pasticceria. I prefer a different product, new, a little bit younger. Here in Lecco you could say that it was obvious to propose something new because there wasn’t anything. It’s a small city, so you need to work a little harder to make a name for yourself as people are quite habitual. However, I would say that in any case, they’ll get to know me little by little and also learn to appreciate a product they’re not familiar with.

Which cupcake is your best seller?
They’re different every day. I try unexpected combinations to introduce new flavors and tastes. The most popular one up until now is Raspberry-Pistachio. Every time I put them out, they always disappear!

Where did you get your training?
I studied at Cast Alimenti, a pastry school in Brescia. It’s founded by Massari – that is to say, the master pastry chef here in Italy – and it’s one of the the most important on a world level.

Is there anything else you’d like to say about your shop?
One of the key points is the search for raw materials. From flour to milk, I am trying to go all-organic. Then, there’s particular attention to those with food intolerances. On request I make whatever type of cake specifically for those who precisely have this kind of intolerance, for example, to gluten. And also pets are always welcome. I collaborate with the dog kennel in Lecco, raising funds for the shelter.

I noticed on your facebook you do party planning…Blackberry "mora" cupcakes
My friend does it more than me. And in fact, for June 22nd we’ve organized a party here. We’ve called it Summer Party. It’s going to be all cupcakes. You choose the flavor of cake, the flavor of icing, and I’ll assemble them.

…et voilà!
Just the thing to get to know us and do a bit of advertising. Invent something different to also liven up the square a little.

Dog cookies from TBL

Versione italiana

Piazza XX Settembre, 50, LeccoI cupcakes in Italia? Chi avrebbe mai pensato che erano diventati una “hit”. Però, mentre i negozi di cupcakes punteggiano la città di Milano, a Lecco nada, fino a quando è arrivata una pasticciera di grande talento e ha deciso di aprire The Baking Lab nel centro della città. Gaia Borroni aveva un forte sogno che ora è diventato realtà. E mentre io sono contenta che ora ci sia un posto per i cupcake proprio qui a Lecco – amo la Foresta Nera – sono ancora più grata di aver avuto l’opportunità di parlare del suo nuovo negozio.

Cosa ti ha fatto decidere di aprire questa pasticceria con dolci di tipo anglosassone?
Perché di pasticcerie tradizionali ce ne sono tante e a me la pasticceria italiana vecchio stile non interessa e non piace, quindi preferisco un prodotto diverso, nuovo, un pochino più giovane. Qua a Lecco diciamo che era anche gioco forza proporre qualcosa di nuovo proprio perchè non c’era. E’ una città piccola, per cui si fa un po’ più fatica riuscire a insediarsi, proprio perché le persone sono abbastanza abitudinarie. Però direi che comunque, un po’ per volta, imparano a conoscermi, e anche ad apprezzare il prodotto che non conoscono.

Qual’è cupcake va’ di più?
Ogni giorno sono diversi. Cerco di mettere degli abbinamenti che non sono scontati, di far conoscere dei sapori e dei gusti nuovi. Pero’ vedo che quello che è stato apprezzato di più fino ad adesso è Lampone-Pistacchio. Ogni volta che lo metto…sparisce sempre!

Dove hai imparato l’arte della pasticceria?
Ho studiato alla CAST Alimenti, la scuola di pasticceria che c’è a Brescia. E’ la scuola che ha fondato Massari, per dire, il grande pasticcere che abbiamo noi qua in Italia che poi a livello mondiale è uno dei più importanti.

C’e’ qualcos’altro da dire sul tuo negozio?Doggie water bowl at TBL
Uno dei punti fondamentali del negozio è la ricerca delle materie prime. Dalle farine al latte sto cercando di stare tutto sul biologico. Poi, da noi c’è sempre un’attenzione particolare per chi ha intolleranze alimentari. Su ordinazione io preparo qualsiasi tipo di dolce specifico per chi ha qualche tipo di intolleranza, per esempio al glutine. E poi anche gli animali sono sempre i benvenuti. Collaboro anche per il canile di Lecco. Da me si raccolgono fondi per il canile, cosa che dalle altre parti non fanno.

Ho notato sulla tua pagina di facebook che fai anche party planning…
Più che io lo fa la mia amica. E infatti adesso, per il 22 di giugno abbiamo organizzato una festa qua. L’abbiamo chiamata Summer Party in vista dell’estate. Ci saranno tutti i cupcake. Al momento si sceglie il gusto della tortina, con il gusto della glassa e io li assemblo.

…et voilà!
Una cosa giusto per farci conoscere e fare un po’ di pubblicità. Inventarci qualcosa di diverso per mobilitare anche un po’ la piazza.

Black Forest cupcakes

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13 thoughts on “On the spot with The Baking Lab

  1. farfalle1

    Cupcake shops are all over the U.S. now, but they’re not as appealing as this one for sure. Still, I’d rather have a tasty bit of traditional Italian pastry any day (preferably with custard filling) that a cupcake. Loved your interview – she sounds really serious about cupcakes!

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    1. Rowena Post author

      I can tell you that people weren’t exactly stampeding to her shop, so she did go into this with a big leap of faith. We need something different in Lecco — it’s such a chore to go into Milan! Given a choice though, I’m all for french pastries, period.

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    1. Rowena Post author

      Fancier than the ones I’ve ever made in my life (and I cheat with Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines!). Oh, and I gotta check in with you to see if we’ll be able to have that aperitif next month!

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    1. Rowena Post author

      She’s been open since the end of March so I pat myself on the back for visiting and meeting her before she reached her 1st year anniversary!

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  2. xpat92

    Hi there Rowena,
    Since I had my first blog in 2006 I was introduced to cupcakes. One of my friends at this time was a serious baker so, I learned about this world., I have seen cupcakes EXPLODE in popularity in Paris.There is even a “cupcake camp” every summer for die hard bakers!

    What an excellent idea to interview Gaia Borroni .You are lucky to have that shop in town!!
    Splendid cupcakes!! Wishing the chef lots of success.

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    1. Rowena Post author

      It shouldn’t surprise me that cupcakes are popular in Paris, but my first reaction upon reading that was “why”? Paris has all of those gorgeous pastries! I go nuts everytime we cross the border into your home country. But then it’s the same reason why they’ve made an impression here — something new, something way different, plus filling in a niche for more variety. Cupcake camp…now that sounds like fun!

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    1. Rowena Post author

      Each and everyone was a treat – pretty to look at and eat. She also does cake pops and other goodies so it’s like a surprise on each visit.

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