Walking down The Lanes in Brighton, you discover some amazing small independent boutiques and stores that are a memorable experience in themselves. At the end of Kensington Gardens a short walk from the bright lights of its famous Pier, Cloud 9 Brighton is dishing up some delicious sweets and treats from made to order cakes to amazing looking milkshakes. For those with a sweet tooth looking for a Gluten Free alternative, a wide variety of Gluten Wise brownies and cupcakes in an assortment of flavours and ingredients that sets aside the ordinary and delivers on it promise on serving some of the best cakes and ice creams in Brighton. A laudable, ambitious venture but one it does look to deliver on in providing a viable alternative for those with wheat intolerances. Discovering an independent bakery that provides for a restricted audience on a city adventure is one of the highlights of any visit to a new destination, it brings that touch of indulgence you long to experience on a break away from your everyday life without leaving you feeling isolated. In 2010, two residents of London left behind the urban jungle of The City to pursue a new ambition in Brighton, that vision became Cloud 9 Brighton and it was a real joy to sample a variety of their tasty brownies and cakes prepared using Gluten Free ingredients that took away an element of the risk from enjoying baked products.
At Cloud 9, its Gluten Wise range of cakes and brownies are made using Gluten Free ingredients although prepared in proximity to traditional produce meaning there is the potential for trace contamination. There is a fantastic range of flavours available, you don’t feel this is a token effort, more a genuine attempt to provide a wide variety of options to purchase from, generating good will and a desire to return at a later date. There are certain flavour combinations that do become apparent when picking up a Gluten Free cake as an alternative, a chocolate brownie is usually easy to make swapping out traditional flour for a wheat free variety and in recent months red velvet cupcakes have become increasingly common with Lola‘s and Hummingbird‘s in London both serving up a variety on their traditional bake. For a wider variety of flavours, you need to find a specialist cake shop, thankfully they are becoming more common, last year we came across Sugar Daddy’s in Edinburgh on our Autumnal vacation, this year, Cloud 9 served that purpose in creating a fresh, daily menu of cakes and treats a little less common from the usual limited variety of flavours available for those with a gluten intolerance. When you’ve learnt to live without, suddenly having such a wide variety of options available to you is overwhelming in the best, possible sense. It was lovely to discover this bakery hidden away on the Brighton Lanes and the assortment of brownies and cakes they had to offer.
I was craving their delicious sounding walnut brownie as soon as I spotted it, it had that rich, indulgent look of a scratch made product with generous amounts of chocolate and walnuts thrown in for good measure. It tasted as good as it looked, trying to make this particular bake at home is a challenge in itself. The use of nuts can often dry out the mixture leaving it feeling a little to dense or dry, to hit that sweet spot of having a soft, gooey centre and that slightly crisp surface is a real art form and they managed to achieve it perfectly. It was rich, baked perfectly, and generous in size. Why have one when you can have two, so of course I had to try the caramel brownie which looked and tasted amazing. Using three varieties of chocolate, a dark chocolate based crumb, a milk chocolate almost ganache top layer and white chocolate buttons with a caramel filling, it was a really indulgent treat that didn’t leave you feeling like you had missed out on its traditional alternative. It perhaps lacked the rigidity and structure of a normal brownie, that crusty exterior surface replaced by the softer chocolate finish meaning by the time we had opened it up to enjoy it sitting on the beach, the corner had given in a little but thankfully, it still tasted amazing. I enjoyed the use of the dark chocolate in the crumb as it tempered a little of the sweetness of the caramel and lighter blends, still a very rich treat and you wouldn’t want to eat too much of this without a drink to hand but certainly a really enjoyable brownie.
With six, Gluten Wise flavours available on the day of our visit, we were truly spoilt for choice and made a point to return on the morning of our departure to pick up a brownie for our journey home to London, a new tradition from last year’s visit to Scotland. For those with a strict intolerance or suffering from coeliac, the preparation around traditional wheat based produce and the possibility of contamination may be too great a risk to face. Having made a point to remove wheat from my diet, it was certainly enjoyable to eat and not experience any ill consequences afterwards but of course everyone’s threshold and tolerance is individual to them, they make a point to make you aware there is the possibility of contamination and don’t promote this as a truly Gluten Free bake. As a city, Brighton is certainly one of the more open and accessible options to those that experience this condition so it was a pleasure to discover this bakery in the heart of one of its most famous landmarks and destinations, and I would certainly commend the spirit of adventure its two founders undertook when moving from London to open this vision of theirs. The only real issue I experienced with a brownie I took back to London was chilling it to enjoy the next day left it a little hard and solid, it’s certainly best enjoyed soft and fresh. So if you find yourself down in Brighton and fancy a sweet treat to enjoy on the beach, I couldn’t recommend this bakery more, they’ve created some amazing flavours and combinations, and personally, by providing and catering towards those who find the digestion of wheat a challenge, it creates a memorable and safe experience to reflect back on.
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