When Mariana Cortez realized that her 18-month-old son Luke was allergic to dairy and gluten she was presented with the challenge of fulfilling his dietary restrictions. ?When his second birthday was coming up we tried to adapt him to a gluten-free diet but nobody would make a cake for us nobody understood what I was even talking about? says Cortez. The circumstance encouraged her to experiment with a vanilla cupcake recipe passed down to her from her grandmother. Eventually after much trial and error she came up with a vegan and gluten-free recipe for vanilla cupcakes.
In 2009 she started baking and selling vegan baked goods from her home kitchen. She then created her own website with pictures she took of the cupcakes she was baking. During her lunch hours Cortez would visit restaurants with mini cupcake samples in hopes that they would be interested in selling them. She believes her risk-taking attitude and diligence lead to those early orders as well as the growth that would eventually follow .
Soon after Cortez expanded to a production facility in Little Haiti taking special orders for clients. Today the Venezuelan-born self-taught baker is the proud owner of Bunnie Cakes?Miami?s first vegan bakery. Located in Wynwood the adorable storefront offers a variety of dairy-free gluten-free wheat-free and kosher cupcakes cakes donuts pastries as well as coffee tea sandwiches and soups.
The constantly bustling shop attracts vegans and non-vegans alike. In fact the demand for her vegan treats in Miami has taken Cortez by surprise. ?I have a lot of customers that don?t necessarily follow a strict diet? says Cortez. ?They just come here because they like the product and they come here for an alternative to a regular cupcake?it?s been amazing.?
Bunnie Cakes? best-selling cupcake flavor is the guava followed by the red velvet vanilla and passion fruit. The satisfying moist texture of her cupcakes and the natural flavors of the dairy-free buttercream that tops them have even landed Cortez as a contestant on The Food Network?s ?Cupcake Wars.?
All of the ingredients she and her baking troop use down to the sugar are sourced from Florida. Cortez also supports local vendors and artists by selling their products and artwork in her store. ?We are a local business too so it?s very rewarding for me to help other local businesses" says Cortez.
The mother of three will soon be offering summer baking classes for kids ages 3 to 9 at her shop. Starting every Thursday from July 10 to August 21 little bakers can get a first-hand lesson in crafting cupcakes cookies and brownies.
Watch the video below where we talk to Mariana Cortez about her personal favorite cupcake flavors her lifestyle quintessentials and get a tour inside Bunnie Cakes bakery.
Bunnie Cakes 2322 NE 2nd Ave Miami; 786-268-9790.