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Five years ago, Maria Trupiano found herself, her two sons, one being a newborn, and her dog escaping an abusive relationship from where she lived up north. After returning to her hometown of Naples to stay with family, Trupiano felt the need to start something as a process of healing from her experiences. That’s when Cak’d bakery was born.

“My biggest thing was to shed love on everyone and anyone and do that through food,” Trupiano said. “I started a two-and-a-half, three-year journey of formulating my own recipes, my own flour blend and getting it perfected to where we are now.”

Cak’d is a 100% vegan and gluten-free bakery, with a unique twist in having a cake dough bar – something that has been hard to find anywhere, especially Southwest Florida. “It is something where I’ve had people tell me it’s smooth like gelato, but it has similarity to cookie dough, and it has wacky names that are reminiscent of cake flavors,” Trupiano said.

Bohemian Raspberry, Ain’t Easy Being Cheezy and Robert Brownie Jr. are just a few fun cake dough flavors that customers can enjoy. Trupiano’s favorite flavor is Straight Outta Java, made with Italian espresso cake dough and chocolate swirl, finished off with crunchy coconut caramel toffee bits.

The cake bar alone is something that distinguishes Cak’d from other local bakeries. In addition, Trupiano has perfected her own flour for all her recipes. “I’m able to produce a cupcake that rivals any [bakery] that does vegan and gluten-free,” Trupiano said. “It’s fluffy, almost like a muffin.”

Trupiano and her mother, Diana, both pursued the plant-based diet three years ago. After deciding to go all in with the lifestyle and start baking goods that align with the diet, some trial and error took place to perfect the sweets.

“We laugh because she must’ve had so many 30-gallon trash bags get tossed out of her kitchen until she finally got the flour blend that she wanted,” Trupiano’s mother said.

A brick-and-mortar location was not Trupiano’s first milestone in the bakery business. Her journey began at home by converting the garage into a full-scale bakery with the help of her church community. From there, she started selling her products at farmers markets and then opened a store online.

“I started getting a lot of people as far away as California and Minnesota that started ordering … and that’s when I figured I had something here,” Trupiano said.

It took eight months for Trupiano to find the perfect spot for Cak’d. “You feel like you’re walking into my kitchen at home … I didn’t want something too big,” Trupiano said. “If it’s too big it kind of gets that disconnect with the customers and … I want to be able to interact with everyone that walks in my door, so this place is perfect.”

A comfortable, homey atmosphere may come naturally to Cak’d, as many Trupiano family members will be seen baking the products themselves in the kitchen. Trupiano’s brother and mom are going to help bake, her sister-in-law will be behind the counter and even her kids will have a part in helping the business.

“This is family, the Trupiano family. We’re kind of crazy, we’re allowed to laugh, we make jokes,” Trupiano said. “Sometimes you’ll see me talking to the ingredients as if they have their own characters attached to it. I grew up Disney.”

Trupiano believes in dreaming big, and that’s seen through her long-term goals of providing everyone with allergy friendly products.

“I want to start franchising, and I’ve already been approached by a couple people who are interested in investing for that to happen,” Trupiano said. “I’m not ready to jump, obviously, because I need to learn how to walk before I start running, but I want to be everywhere.”

Each day, Cak’d will have 144 cupcakes of 12 different varieties that change weekly, alongside brownies, cookies and a notable Southern-style banana pudding. The cake dough flavors will stay the same except for one monthly rotating flavor, August’s being Churro-mazing with cinnamon cake dough and cinnamon cookie bits.

Trupiano attributes her faith for a large portion of her successes in being able to reinvent her life and start this new chapter. “My faith is a huge part in this, it’s the foundation, it’s what allows me to be able to love others when they’re walking in regardless of who you are and where you’ve been in your past, it doesn’t matter,” Trupiano said.

Cak’d will host its grand opening Saturday, Aug. 6, at 304 Ninth St. N., on the corner of U.S. 41 and Third Avenue North, between Mercato Italiano and Afsona Restaurant in Trinity Plaza. For more information, see this WINK News report.

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