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Completely gluten-free Cafe Jungle opens in Beccles

PUBLISHED: 10:03 22 September 2017 | UPDATED: 13:38 22 September 2017

Eat Suffolk:  Urban Jungle Plant  Nursery and Cafe, Beccles.
Chocolate Brownie.
Picture: Nick Butcher

Eat Suffolk: Urban Jungle Plant Nursery and Cafe, Beccles. Chocolate Brownie. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2017

Everything on the menu at Cafe Jungle in Beccles is totally gluten-free - from afternoon tea to pies and deep-filled sandwiches.

Eat Suffolk:  Urban Jungle Plant  Nursery and Cafe, Beccles.
Picture: Nick Butcher Eat Suffolk: Urban Jungle Plant Nursery and Cafe, Beccles. Picture: Nick Butcher

For true coeliacs, eating out isn’t just an inconvenience – it’s a minefield. Although lots of cafes, pubs and restaurants these days offer token gluten-free options (usually cakes or desserts), sufferers of the condition have to absolutely certain what they’re consuming is 100% safe to eat.

A brand new café, opened in Beccles, can guarantee its diners that every single item on the menu is not only gluten-free, but tasty too, and made with local, high quality ingredients.

Café Jungle sits within Urban Jungle – a plant nursery dedicated to the unusual and exotic, and shares a sister venue at Costessey in Norwich, which has been open for 17 years and introduced a café two years ago, initially as a self-service coffee station.

“It was an honesty thing,” says Rachel Bannon of Urban Jungle. “People would put money in a pot and help themselves, but it got crazy, because of the setting, and it’s grown exponentially. Too quickly for us to cope with almost!

Eat Suffolk:  Urban Jungle Plant  Nursery and Cafe, Beccles.
Picture: Nick Butcher Eat Suffolk: Urban Jungle Plant Nursery and Cafe, Beccles. Picture: Nick Butcher

“The owner, Liz Brown, is gluten-free and very passionate about it and she’s very into organic foods so she wanted to use that concept, with locally sourced and quality ingredients.

“When we opened at Beccles we toyed with the idea of not being gluten-free, but couldn’t. We want people to come and realise it’s just as good as ‘normal’ food.”

Both cafes are run by Liz’s daughter Amelia, and are worlds apart from the average coffee house, ensconcing guests in a world of beautiful leafy plantlife that makes them feel like they’re in the tropics.

Everything, apart from some of the cakes and the bread, is made from scratch by the team, including the substantial speciality afternoon tea. And soon both cafes will be served by home grown Urban Jungle vegetables, currently being tended to by the propagation managers.

Eat Suffolk:  Urban Jungle Plant  Nursery and Cafe, Beccles.
Vegan Sweet potato curry.
Picture: Nick Butcher Eat Suffolk: Urban Jungle Plant Nursery and Cafe, Beccles. Vegan Sweet potato curry. Picture: Nick Butcher

“At the moment,” says Rachel, “we do toasted sandwiches, which are amazing, with really thick, lovely gluten-free bread from Scotland. It’s the best we could find. We also do gluten-free quiches like stilton and pear and cheese and bacon, and pies from Voakes.

“There’s always a soup of the day, and occasionally specials, and there’s tonnes and tonnes of cakes and some vegan desserts as well.

“We make our own brownies every day, and our own flapjacks, and the other cakes are made locally for us. We always have a really sticky chocolate fudge cake, ginger and lemon, lemon drizzle and coffee and walnut.”

Rachel reveals the café is hoping to soon open in the evenings too, so watch this space.

Café Jungle’s gooey, gluten-free brownies

(makes 20)

Ingredients

370g the best dark chocolate you can find (at least 70% cocoa solids)

80g cocoa powder

200g good quality milk chocolate

175g gluten-free self-raising flour

370g salted butter

550g golden caster sugar

6 large free-range eggs

1tsp baking powder

Method

Line two 20cm x 30xm tins. Heat the oven to 160C. Melt the dark chocolate and butter over a bain marie. Beat the sugar and eggs until pale and fluffy. Mix together flour, cocoa and baking powder. Chop the milk chocolate into small chunks. Fold the chocolate mix into the eggs and sugar mix. Sift the flour mix and fold in, followed by the chocolate chunks.

Divide between the trays and bake for 25 minutes. Allow to cool, refrigerate for an hour and cut each tray into 10 pieces.

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