The sweet-toothed citizens of Brighton and Hove are a lucky bunch.
The sweet-toothed citizens of Brighton and Hove are a lucky bunch. Our high concentration of independent cafés and cake shops means we are never more than a stroll away from pastry perfection.
One baker who is quickly gaining a reputation as one of the best in town is Rebecca Letchford, of Honeycomb Cakes, a regular at Street Diner, the thrice-weekly open-air food market.
It is testament to her skills that - no matter how stuffed I am after lunch at Street Diner - I always make room for one of her brownies, which are so addictive I would consider selling one of my children to get my hands on the recipe.
"The brownie recipe is definitely my closest-guarded secret," Rebecca says. "I tried a number of recipes, combined some, and eventually came up with a brownie I was happy with. Even the slightest alteration changes the end result."
This rigorous testing is worth it; her brownies are out of this world. A delicate, crisp crust gives way to an intensely cocoa-rich cake that is wonderfully soft, even mousse-like, in the centre. "Brownies are my best-selling item, wherever I go," Rebecca adds. "Salted caramel is always the most popular, plus my blondies (chocolate-free brownies) have also really caught on."
Honeycomb Cakes brownies may be swiftly becoming a Brighton legend in their own right, but all of their cakes are heavenly. My recent favourites include rhubarb, plum and almond, pistachio and elderflower, and blueberry and lime blondies. There is always at least one vegan and flourless option; in summer, there are homemade fruit juices and brownie ice-cream sandwiches. Rebecca makes everything herself at her home in Worthing.
Her menu is determined both by the seasons and customer requests. "I use locally-sourced seasonal produce, plus a lot of fruit and veg grown by my parents at their home in Pulborough - I freeze their fruit to use in winter, too. As for cake inspiration, I love asking my Twitter followers what they’d like me to make, then build my menu based on their responses."
So how did she get involved in Street Diner? "One day, I stumbled across their Twitter account and contacted them. I was trading in Brighton one day a week at the time. Kate O’Sullivan and Christina Angus, from Street Diner, came to see me, and we took it from there. They are totally committed to street food and are so supportive of their traders, rather than just trying to cash in on a trend."
What lies ahead for Honeycomb Cakes? "I love the personal element of selling people things I’ve made, so that’s where I’m focusing. I’ll be at Street Diner three days a week throughout the summer. We’ve got some new, more experimental traders joining us so I’m really excited to see what they’ll bring."
Claire Beveridge is on holiday. To read more by Suzanne Rose and the Places I Eat Brighton team, visit www.placesieatbrighton.com