An Italian cake shop: pasticceria Zoccola

Last week I had the pleasure to meet Zoccola’s owner Alice and I asked her something interesting about her job. Zoccola is the most popular and delicious cake shop in my area, everybody knows it most of all for its pastry rolls (I suggest them to everyone!).

Interview to Alice Zoccola

To start I would know something about the story of the cake shop: when it was born and so on..

Well, the cake shop was born in 1820 from my ancestors: I’m the fifth generation. If you want the detailed story you can find it on our website:


I would know how many wedding cakes do you produce during a year?

“Around 100..”


And how many following the American style?

“By now the American wedding cakes won the day! Every 100 cakes, 80 are in the American style!”


Have you ever received strange requests from the customers?

“Next week we have to make an horseshoe-shaped wedding cake because this couple will be married in a riding stable: they obviously love horses. The chocolate cake toppers will be on the cake top with a chocolate little horse. This is the only thing that I’m wondering to.. generally the requests are classical: it depends on the colors. Pink.. light violet is the trend of this year.. fuchsia.. yellow.. it depends on customers..”


So not only white?

“Not.. all white absolutely not! White is ever combined to another color like light violet, red, fuchsia, green and so on..”


All big and scenic?

“Yes.. usually four or five levels.. Now the guests aren’t 100 or 200 people like some years ago, but around 80, at the most 100..”


What about price?

“50€ for 1kg.. 1 hectogram for guest”


Statistics say that the weddings’ number is decreasing and the costs are increasing.. is it right?

“Well.. obviously a wedding is really expensive..  In addition to the cake we also do catering and wedding’s planning, from the wedding favors to the invitations, including the menus, the tables’ distribution.. for example we give them the names decided by the brides: flowers, butterflies, animals.. it depends on their tastes.. Logically a complete package is quite expensive if the brides want something special”


What about the wedding cake’s price?

“It has been the same from 2 year, when we had introduced the American wedding cakes. Before it costs around 40€ for 1kg.. Usually every year it increases 1 or 2€.”


I don’t know if you watch the television programs about wedding planning, but do you know who is the cake designer? What do you think about the fact that he designs the only decorations and not the cake itself?

“Yes: I take inspiration from that programs! I think that cake designer is really positive. We don’t have that profession because when we have the cake in front of us we create decorations instantly. However, if the customer wants a designed project of the cake before its creation we can do it without problems.”


I have also taken part to the decoration of a wedding cake and I have told about this with the pastry chef. Here there are some photos made by me…


The pastry chef explained me that the difference between the real American wedding cakes and this one is that Americans cover the all cake with the fondant past (the one used to make the white ribbons), while Italians use cream and whipped cream.

The American cake is composed by very high cakes one on the others, while between the levels of this one there are three levels of polystyrene.

The reason is this: while Americans use a lot of pasts that make the structure very solid, Italians use only fruit, sponge cake, cream and chocolate, all ingredients that melt down out of the fridge. Obviously the American one’s taste is worst that the Italian one…

Another important consequence of the use of different ingredients is that Americans can invest a lot of time to the creation of their spectacular cakes because the pasts can resist for days, while cream and whipped cream resist only one day.

We can’t compare the Americans’ scenic mania to the Italian taste!

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Happy divorce’s day!

We all know that the cake is one of the most important parts of the whole wedding ceremony: immense amounts of time and energy are put into choosing a design and cake tasting, but what happens when you get divorced?

A divorce cake? Why not? I would imagine that a divorce consumes as much energy as a wedding, if not more.. You should mark the occasion in some big and very tasty way!

Homeless just divorced will work for food… very funny one!



Wedding: the tomb of love!



Happy bloody divorce!



Free at last!



No comment for this one…



Before… and after!



Take the garbage out!!

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For uncontrollable brides…

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What about prices?

Some data

In Italy weddings are less and less: only 4 every 1000 inhabitants. The last official ISTAT data talks about a weddings’ reduction which continues since 35 years. On the other hand, if the weddings’ number is in drop, the trend which concerns the expense for the ceremony is opposite:  the Osservatorio Nazionale Federconsumatori reveals that the medium spending is increased to 40% in the last 7 years.

Let’s talk about food: statistics confirm that people spend a lot of money for the wedding reception and in particular for the wedding cake: the price is increased to 50%. The medium price of the cake is around 700€ to have the most scenic and beautiful wedding cake.


How to save money? Choosing alternative locations, low season, midweek dates, season flower and online invitations.  It’s possible to buy the wedding dress in a outlet, rent it or take it from the fashion runways.



Some time ago the word “marriage” reminded the female children that dreamt the wedding day to wear the white dress and the men that attended embarrassed in front of the altar. Today there are a lot of social issues like the divorce, the couples that break out after few months and the common-law marriages. Religion is wondering about the real motif which urge on people to get married: they really believe in this sacrament or not?


By now also in our country people get married in spectacular locations and think about  something that represents the couple and not only about  the runway to arrive in front of the altar. People is searching the “experience” factor. For the same reason that urge on people to spend their money travelling, they spent a lot for a day to remember for the rest of their life: they want experience something incredible.



On the other hand, if weddings are so expensive and only rich and well off people afford them, we can talk about wedding stuff as luxury stuff. We know that during the economic crisis the luxury products aren’t interested by it. The reason is that the crisis hits only poor people that just couldn’t afford luxury stuff.

So, weddings are decreasing because they are too expensive to be affordable for all and people stop to believe in this union. On contrary weddings’ costs are increasing because the demand is too low for the professionals of this sector to go to great expense; and because people who still get married prefer to exaggerate and not to save money (however they don’t need it).

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Mini wedding cakes

From often unused wedding favors to eatable ones: a new trend!

From Britain and United States to Italy, mini wedding cakes are creeping in!

Ceramic, sugar paste or sponge cake mini wedding cakes are little miniatures of the main wedding cake. Packed in clear boxes with colored ribbons they are perfect wedding favors to remember at all the guests the look of the main character of ceremony: the cake.



They can be boxes too.



Or candles!



Miniature wedding cakes also look impressive as wedding table decorations or served as wedding dessert at the reception.



 Little cookies, wedding cake or wedding dress shaped, covered by sugar paste, are welcome as an alternative.  



However we’re talking about little confectioner’s artworks!


Blue and white, polka dot and stripe miniature wedding cakes



Creative mini wedding cakes



Mini wedding dessert that look like Christmas balls and decorations. Each ball is decorated with jewels, gems and pearls.



Retro mini blue and red wedding cake embellished with red flower motif and red fondant strips.



An ivory Victorian style wedding cake with mini wedding cakes to match. Each one has different designed patterns. They are the same look and size just like the top of the main wedding cake.

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Take a look on this picture… dont’you see something strange?

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Until now we had told about wedding cake as a luxurious design object or an haute couture dress. Is it right? Probably yes. Not only cakes are trends’ inspirations: today food (in his general meaning) often meets fashion industry. The reason is not clear, but I think that a possible cause of this phenomenon could be the “confusion” between “design” in his English meaning and “design” as we know it.

“Design” means devise and plan an object that will be produce scale-up. So, it is the activity of a designer who manufactures something, doesn’t matter what. The Italian language adopted this word giving it a different meaning: the exterior form of something exclusive. We connect “design” to the idea of a luxury, expensive and elitist object. We think about it like a quality product of refined aesthetic personality.

Why? Probably because the “industrial design” in general was born together with the leader companies in the world, and this was the start of the first distinctive tracts and personalizations and the subsequent parallelism between the “anonymous” and the “signed”, the “cheap” and the “expensive”.

If we want to accuse someone, we have to charge the made in Italy with its pronounced quality’s research and good aesthetic taste which transformed the term “design” giving it a more sophisticated meaning and keeping it out of the common people’s reach.

When we think about something exclusive, expensive, innovative, signed and elitist we immediately think about fashion. Fashion is the product of creativity and talent. Design (as we see it) too. In our conceptions only something born through the care and the creativity of an artist can be considered a design’s object. It is a support to the industries’ competitiveness and also a response to the society’s request of “sense”: a research of a symbolic meaning and an artistic value, not only an utility. 

Obviously this is possible when we talk about an object, but when we talk about food we have not to forget its utility: food is still made to be eaten. So, the meeting between fashion and food is quite disputed: is it possible or not? From time immemorial Italy is popular for its excellence in fashion and gastronomy, why don’t connect them?


Fashion is something transitional and linked to the moment trends: a cake or a course, as we have just seen, can be subject to tendencies. Fashion is something refined and it is edited taking care of all the details: food too. Fashion is connected to the name of a designer: now we can say the same thing about food!

The aesthetic dimension is increasingly relevant in our age and the good taste and fresh food aren’t enough to satisfy people’s desires. They want cakes like sculptures and they prefer a colored and designed cupcake to a common muffin. The more scenic is food, the more people is happy to eat it. This is more relevant during important occasions in which people can stand out showing to the others designed food to flaunt their good taste and their wealth.

When you eat a refined and “designed” wedding cake or something else, you are not eating food, you are eating an art’s work, so be careful!

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2011 tendencies

A summary of the wedding cakes’ 2011 tendencies:

– more levels in the american style;


– attention to the scenic aspect;



– more high prices;


– the choice of a theme;



– more colors;


– non conventional forms;


– alternatives to sponge cake and cream;


– black and white style;


– cupcakes.

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Cake Couture is the first Italian brand of cake design. It has been created in 2008 by Donatella Lorato, stylist, events’ organizer, image adviser and AtelierE20 srl’s owner with the main base in Milan and others in Chiasso, Como, Lugano, Roma, Bari and New York.  


Interview to Donatella Lorato 

I’ve read online that you are a stylist, a wedding designer, an events’ organizer and sometimes also a writer for fashion magazines.. How it’s possible to have a similar career?

it’s a beautiful question… my suggestion is to study something about organizing at university for the part which concerns the organizational aspect: a course about events’ organizing is surely the best way. Then it’s important to gain experience in this specific field for the scenographic and creative part.”



So do you think that my course at university (Economy and Management for art, culture and communication) could be appropriate for this?

“absolutely yes”

Doing all this things can you find time also for your private life?

“like for all the things that you do with passion the private life becomes well intersected with the professional life”



The cakes’ designer profession is mainly popular in foreign countries but not in Italy: in your opinion why nobody before you had never thought about this?

“First of all the wedding design is already a part of the profession than today concerns the wedding world: we have started to know what is a wedding planner but not what is a wedding designer. The wedding design is a profession with Anglo-Saxon origins: it’s a tradition that they had been since over 30 years.  Here it’s not developed because we have a tradition and a culture absolutely Latin in which the presence of the family dominates in the wedding organization. For this reason I’m convinced that here this profession will never be popular like in the USA or in England: we have different traditions.  We can only be a “support”, but we’ll never attain their level.”



So why you have decided to start this activity?

“Well.. it’s happened: I work for fashion and I have designed a collection which is became a bridal collection. People started to ask me some advices and I started to give its them. I have ever organized events and this has been a natural process.”

You are also a teacher for a wedding planning course (Certificate in Event Management of the European School of Economics), what do you think about these courses?

“About my course I think very well.. because it’s mine! It’s more serious and it has a duration that today no other courses of this sector have and it is certified  by a British authority. It’s serious. I don’t think the same thing about all the others small seminars of Saturday morning.”



The career on this sector can be considered a  profitable career or not?

“yes … but today it’s a little bit taken by assault and for this reason there is a big flood of people that think that with some contacts they can become wedding planners”

In your opinion what is the reason of Cake Couture’s success?

“cake couture’s success is due to the matching of a culture and a very fashion conception of the sweet scenography to the job of good confectioners. I’m not a confectioner: I’ve created a brand which has become glamorous simply because it is designed by someone who deals with design. “



So do you think that if you hadn’t been already integrated in this sector cake coture would not have reached as much popularity?


What is exactly the activity of the cake designer?

“The cake designer is internationally a confectioner who delights in realizing complex creations. In Italy it doesn’t exist because confectioners are only confectioners and not designers. I have simply linked the two professions, so I’m able to design decorations but not to make cakes (even I’m not interested in it). I create everything you find on the cake which make it special.”



What are your inspirations?

“I’m inspired by a lot of things: the interpretation of the requests, tendencies, incentives, ideas and most of all fashion”

What are the essential features of your creations?

“Surely a fashion touch, a lot of black and white, an haute couture inspiration: a flower, a feather, a Swarosvki, a ribbon.. However an accessorize not sweet on the cake.”



How much does your designed cake cost compared to a common wedding cake bought in a bakery?

“it depends: there are some confectioners very very good and appreciated that create cakes for the same money of my creations. The confectioner as we know isn’t able to make designed cakes because it isn’t an Italian tradition.” 

So is our idea of the designed cake as a luxury product incorrect?

“Mhm.. yes.. also because today unfortunately designed cakes are too imitated and this had made them a mass product. So these aren’t a niche product and my creations too if you consider that they cost around 12 €  per head: so if you have 100 guests you pay your wedding cake 1200 €. I don’t know if it seems a lot but people say me not. If you need a cake for your birthday you go into a bakery and you pay it a certain amount per kg, but this isn’t exactly the same thing. “



Do you deal with all the wedding stuff?

“Yes, every detail”

The various tv programs like Real Time show wedding planning as a very expensive product only for rich people. For example Enzo Miccio e Angelo Garini’s consultancy costs around 10.000€. It’s right?

“Not… we don’t’ demand this amount because it doesn’t make sense. After all these aren’t the wedding that normally people do. So it’s a service absolutely affordable by all. “



The last question: it’s possible to find the economical crisis of these ages also in this sector or not?

“Not, crisis doesn’t exist in this sector apart of the fact that a lot of people have decided to deal with this profession and this create an offer’s excess to the detriment of more professionals workers.”


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A CESARO ATELIER’S experience (part 2)

Day 3

 I went to visit the room for wedding ceremony and the neighboring park. It was magnificently mounted for a wedding in the afternoon and I decided to immortalize the most significant particulars in the room to show the style of the atelier. Going down the stairs, beyond an amazing entry covered by velvety red curtains, you throw yourself in a big room for lunch/dinner full of precious details. The dominant colors are doubtless red, black and white. All the beauty and originality of this mounting is focused on the contrast between these three colors which give a smart and full passion atmosphere to the room.

All around the room there are the glass doors that are the passing to the park and give it the light, furnished also by the beautiful and architectonic glass “dome” on the roof. The tables are placed on the sides of the room leaving a big space in the centre in which the guests are free to move during the relaxing moments of the ceremony.  Every table is prepared in a very simple way, without excess and too sumptuous elements. In the centre of the table there is a wonderful flowers and candles centre-piece which recaptures the colors of the mounting. The most incredible thing is the bride’s table. It is prepared only for them and the most particular elements are doubtless the chairs:  they look like the two half of a heart. Behind this there is a very particular fountain with a sort of bubble’s cascade suspended in the air.

Details are the protagonists of the room:  from the tableau to the wardrobe everything is accurately studied to be part of a complex which makes the mounting wonderful and spectacular. Don’t’ forget the wedding favors: they are placed on a table in the room’s corner and they are absolutely coordinated with the theme of the mounting: small rectangular white boxes with a red ribbon contain them.  

After the main room, the ceremony continues on the outside, with the wedding cake’s cutting under a white and mounted gazebo absorbed in a beautiful and very neat park. Also the exterior architecture has a particular charm, with his circular forms and glass doors.

Interview to Cesaro atelier’s owner

He said me that he would have answered but I’m still waiting for this. Obviously this isn’t a place to enter into a debate…


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All the photos of the atelier are made by me.
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