By Kristi Alexandra
You don’t always need wheat to stay sweet, and Cloud 9 specialty bakery owner Ray Porelatto knows it to be true. His gluten-free company started baking up treats for those with a taste for the toothsome in 2008, becoming a pioneer in wheat-free baking.
Nearly 10 years later, the gluten-free movement is more of a lifestyle than a craze, and the New Westminster bakery and test kitchen’s popularity can attest to that.
The delicious downtown haunt plays storefront to their wildly popular baking brand, serving up cupcakes, scones, buns, breads and more. That’s not to mention the baking mixes and custom-ordered cakes that can be purchased in the shop too.
In the back of the shop is the test kitchen, where you can find your cupcakes being created or any other combination of the mad science of sweets.
And just how has this speciality bakery kept alive after all these years? The bakery’s founder might have a few insights.
“More than 30 per cent of Canadians are said to have gluten intolerance in varying degrees,” Porelatto said in an interview at the 2012 Gluten-Free Expo in Vancouver. “The appetite for the market is big.”
Porelatto bit into the baking industry with his marshmallows: a treat that, by nature, is gluten-free. As more and more people asked him for more and more products, he began to create sweets, treats, and baking mixes beyond those delicious, fluffy morsels.
Today, you can pick up a loaf of bread, treat yourself to a six pack of jalapeno cheese buns, or order a dozen peanut butter and maple cupcakes (with adorable marzipan bees resting on top). Right now, autumn worshippers are in luck – they carry everything from pumpkin spice donuts to pumpkin cheesecake squares. With Christmas on the way, they’ll be hawking everything from classic fruitcakes to mint Nanaimo bars.
All year round, you can snag a bag of the bakery’s gluten-free flour to take home and test for yourself.
“My mom and I, who have a bakery background, went through vigorous testing: Over 2000 combinations over the course of a year down to the single gram to come up with our baking mix, which is a cup-for-cup replacement for wheat flour in any product,” Porelatto divulged.
You can find the bakery’s All Purpose Baking Mix — made of cornstarch, potato starch, rice flour, buckwheat, tapioca flour and xantham gum — at the storefront, online, and at commercial retailers such as Costco.
“One of the major factors in our flour that makes us different from anybody else is that we have buckwheat flour, which has 16 per cent fibre per serving,” Porelatto said, noting his goods’ nutritional value. “In anything that you make with our flour, you’ll get your daily amount of fibre.”
Nutritional, sweet, gluten-free and full of options, there’s one aspect of Cloud 9 specialty bakery that stands out among the rest.
“One of our catch phrases is there’s no compromise in taste and texture,” the owner said. Speaking for the other 70% of the population who doesn’t need to be gluten-free, it’s the mouth-watering goodness that keeps the Royal Avenue spot packed with goodie-loving guests.