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Doughlicious: Baking Basics and Sourdough Starters

from Kerry Morrison

The last time I baked was some 30 years ago; Hot Cross Buns. They turned out like hot cross rocks. Inedible. I decided then it was time to give up on home made bread and yeast as my track record was littered with failures.

Fast-forward some thirty years, and, due to a series of events, I found myself attending the Douglicious gathering. To be more accurate, as a new recruit at The Stove, I was facilitating it. I meeted and greeted and made teas and coffees. And I watched and listened.

Kerry’s dough making notes

They were preparing sour dough. Liz, the wonderful woman who initiated Douglicious, handed out sour dough starter to all those who had brought with them flour and a bowl. She brought extra bowls and flour for those who hadn’t brought their own, so everyone had the opportunity to have a go.
I looked on. I was fascinated. I knew nothing about sour dough and I’d never, ever, thought about baking my own. I became engrossed and wanted to know more. When the dough was resting, we all sat around the tables, tasted samples people had brought with them, and talked about bread. I joined in.
I asked so many questions and Liz and the group were extremely accommodating, answering all of them. I took notes. At the end of the evening, Liz offered me the dough she had prepared. I hadn’t participated in the dough making, so was thrilled to be offered the sour-dough-in-the-making to take home and finish. I stretched it and rested it four times before going to bed.
The next day I baked it and it turned our perfectly: completely edible and delicious. Liz also gave me my own sour dough starter and I’ve been baking (dare I say) perfect sour dough loaves at home ever since. Who’d have thought it? Certainly not me.

Interested? The next Doughlicious event is on Wednesday, 17th July at 7pm. Full details available here


Say hello to the new Stove Cafe!

The Stove Cafe is the social heart of our social enterprise to bring new life to the town centre through culture and the arts and supporting community activity and career development for local people. Last year, we started to put together plans to make changes to The Stove cafe to improve on the look and feel of the space and to open up the space more to allow for more customers. 
The Stove’s Project Manager, Graham, led the Cafe refurb, along with Duncan Clowe from Duncan Clowe Joinery. The work Duncan did, along with the help of his dad, was superb and we cannot thank him enough! Make sure you check out his Facebook page and get in touch with him if you’re needing joinery work done! Check out the Stove Cafe refurb process photos below:

Since we’ve reopened the Cafe, we have been overwhelmed by the response from our customers and have been lucky to welcome some new ones in too! When you buy a coffee at the Stove, you are being part of a new vision for your High Street. Your support helps us to create opportunities, run projects and an events programme for everyone. To keep up to date with news from The Stove Cafe, follow their Facebook page here or their Instagram page here.

And don’t forget – become a member of The Stove Network and receive 10% off all food and drink in the cafe! Sign up to become a member by clicking here.


Latvia at 100 Evening Reception

A travelling exhibition has stopped off in Dumfries, offering the public the opportunity to find out more about the fascinating story of Latvia as a European nation since its becoming independent 100 years ago. The project is part of Latvia’s Centenary celebration culture programme and has been created in cooperation with the Latvian National Library, with the participation of Honorary Consuls of Latvia and various organizations in the United Kingdom. Its goal is to create a dialogue about the differences in what each of us perceive as the true history through historical cartoons. 

The exhibition presents a selection of political cartoons from the Latvian press, covering the entire 20th century right up to the present day. This chronicle of Latvia’s history also features historical events with international resonance: World War I, the interwar period, the Great Depression, World War II, the periods of occupation and related restrictions on freedom of expression, as well as the European Union and other contemporary political-economic subjects. 

The exhibition opened on Wednesday 5th September, with Deputy Head of Mission to the UK Katarina Plâtere official opening the evening alongside Dumfries Provost Tracey Little. An evening of Latvian food and drink followed.

We would like to say a huge thank you to Katarina for travelling to Dumfries, and a special thanks to Sanita Lapkase for organising the exhibition and bringing it to Dumfries. It was a wonderful evening enjoyed by all! If you missed out then don’t worry – the exhibition will be on display in the Stove cafe until Thursday 13th September.


This is not just a car park.

An evening of short artist films, screened outdoors in our backdoor Greenspace, accompanied by freshly baked pizzas created by Shed Therapy’s Gavin Philips with support from some of our foodie Stovies!

Greenspace Reel to Real
greenspace pizza

Our Greenspace project is an ongoing project within the Stove that looks to transform the backdoor area of the Stove creating a warm and welcoming level access to the building, as well as providing bike parking, and options to populate and take over an otherwise disused and neglected space within the town centre.

As part of our first outdoor Reel to Real, we screened a selection of films by local filmmakers, focusing on artists based across Scotland, including:

Emma Dove’s On Another Note
Colin Tennant’s Portrait of an Artist featuring our own Matt Baker
John Wallace’s Dumfries InBetween

seed greenspace
greenspace pizza
greenspace pizza

Thank you to everyone who helped out, and the filmmakers for kind permissions to screen their films. We hope to do more events in our Greenspace later in the year! This event was part of our Rabbie Burns Time – a week of events and activities celebrating the Bard and the Big Burns Supper in Dumfries. Photography credit: Kirstin McEwan

greenspace pizza
greenspace pizza
greenspace reel to real

Nithraid 2017: Coos, clowns and Vikings!

September 9th saw our fifth staging of Nithraid, a fun family event that takes place on and around the river. The daring sailing race, starting from the Solway Firth and sailing up the river Nith was made possible by one of the highest tides of the year. While waiting for the boats to arrive, visitors and families were invited over to The Mill Green to enjoy food, live music on a hand built stage, art activities and Viking fights!

Our lovely Project Manager for Nithraid, Sal Cuddihy, was delighted with how the day went and both her and everyone at the Stove would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who was involved in Nithraid 2017 – whether you were working, volunteering or just came along to cheer on the sailors. This was our biggest and most successful Nithraid yet, and it wouldn’t have been possible without those who supported the event.


Nithraid is created and produced by The Stove Network and is part of our mission to make creative opportunities for local people to be involved in the future of Dumfries. This year, we had a total of 15 boats take part in the sailing race, with all boats carrying a small cargo which was delivered into the town to complete the race. This year’s winner was David Sleggs who was joined on his boat, ‘Scottish Bluebells’, by Paul Sleggs, and won the race with their sailing dingy.

Visitors to Nithraid were treated to an afternoon of great local food and fun family activities. Local music acts played throughout the day on a hand built stage by emerging artists Blueprint100. Amongst the acts were Kate Kyle, Isla Gracie, Colin James and Stoney Broke. Burgers, hotdogs and drinks were provided by Craig Patterson of Catering Plus, and professional up-cycler, Rose Hall, hosted a workshop on creating bags for life using t-shirts. This year, Nithraid also had a Viking theme, with Longfada Viking Group staging a re-enactment which interpreted the lives of people living by the river around 1000 years ago. Wordsmithcrafts, another Viking themed group, was working with other local groups from the area encouraging ‘have a go’ activities for all the family.


For the first time, Nithraid also continued into the evening for ‘Nithraid Night Time’. Visitors to Nithraid were invited back in the evening for vegan stew, film screenings, campfires and music provided by local musicians, Fraser Clark and Stuart Macpherson.

Nithraid-night-time- Galina Walls 3
Image credit: Galina Walls

A large crowd of people also joined in with the legendary Salty Coo procession, starting from The Stove on the High Street and finishing at the Mill Green, and were treated to this year’s fun and exciting parade from the ‘Moo Coo Collective’, led by Leo Marsh, Jimmy Russell and Agne Zdanaviciute; a group of young artists living in Dumfries.


This year, Nithraid was kindly sponsored by the People’s Project. The People’s Project is a non-profit organisation which was set up in 2008 by Mark Jardine to rekindle the meaning of community in Dumfries and Galloway. The project aims to encourage acts of kindness across the region of Dumfries and Galloway through numerous projects and events. Nithraid was also generously supported by Holywood Trust, Barfil Trust and many local businesses.


For more information and photos from this year’s Nithraid, please visit or visit the Nithraid Facebook page!


Catering Scoping Project for The Stove – Open Jar Collective

Catering Scoping Project for The Stove – Abridged version to accompany Catering Tender
Original version by Clem Sandison, Alex Wilde and Hannah Brackston


Outline of the project

The aim of Open Jar’s work with The Stove Network was to gather ideas and viewpoints about the creation of a catering enterprise at The Stove. Following a period of targeted conversations with key stakeholders and pop-up engagement activities with the public, Open Jar Collective produced a report. This will now inform how the space is developed and used by the public, and forms part of tendering process to appoint someone to deliver the catering enterprise at The Stove. From Dec 2014 – Feb 2015 we surveyed the food businesses local to the Stove building, spoke to eleven individuals / group and ran a public feeding creativity event, which 20 people attended.

Identified needs

By the Stove:

  •  To provide a welcoming space that is a community resource, a hub for the arts community, a space for people to share and connect
  • To provide a flexible space that be used for a range of events, workshops, meetings or other ways of engaging people
  • To have the functioning of any cafe element of the space operated autonomously
  • A catering enterprise would be a stepping stone to the wider programme of the Stove and activities within the building. A way of signposting people.
  • An income stream as part of the social enterprise of the Stove Network Ltd charity and an integrated part of the activities of the charity.
  •  A desire to offer something different with its own unique identity
  •  A desire for the approach to be ethical in terms of operation, production and supply
  • Connected to the wider aim of regeneration and attracting people into the town centre
  • To connect with the street outside the Stove and activity in the square

In the meetings:

  • Training opportunities in the hospitality industry for college students
  • Somewhere to go after 5pm in the town centre
  • There is very little for 14 – 21 year olds in Dumfries
  • For people to work together to rejuvenate the town centr
  •  To create a destination

In the feeding creativity event:

  • Place to meet and space for groups to hire
  • Connecting with local food and food producers
  • A platform for exchange of knowledge or produce between small scale growing
    projects/allotments/community gardens
  • Mindfulness of food – simple menu, good food, affordable price, nourishing environment, sharing table / space
  • A space that is accessible to young people
  • To promote transparent and ethical buying
  • Collaboration – support a range of other local businesses
  •  Not displacing existing business – offering something new or distinct

What are the opportunities?

  • There is a lot of goodwill towards to Stove and excitement about the new building and what it can offer.
  • Offer something different, most places in the town centre are the same
  •  Work with the college to cook food off-site
  • Multi-functional arts venue – meet needs of lots of different groups
  • Alcohol free? – Stricter drink-drive limit – pub atmosphere in a cafe environmen
  •  Experiment with the waste food catering model
  • Growing Hub – connect allotments, exchange/barter schemes, information and knowledge about growing, seed banks
  •  To provide education about growing produce and cooking methods
  • Bringing food production into the town
  • Profit share with pop-up guest chefs / food producers
  • To create a community of people/organisations within the building which has it’s own momentum and draws in different audiences


  • If you have a specific offer in order to be a viable business (eg. local food focus), how do you avoid alienating people who aren’t attracted by that particular focus?
  •  Quality is really important
  •  Is it possible to have a social objective of local, fairtrade, ethical and make money?
  • Not to be in direct competition with other food businesses in the town
  • Need a shift of mindset to encourage people to support small, independent business over the chains and multi-nationals
  • To ensure that an operator didn’t crash and burn due to lack of revenue or energy after a year
  • To create a viable enterprise opportunity given the lack of space and kitchen facilities

Considerations / restrictions

Restrictions of prep/serving/storage area:

  • The limited space available for preparing food, cold storage and serving means that it is fairly impossible to do much more than hot and cold drinks, cakes and maybe soup.
  • Catering for pop-up events would still need to happen off-site as there are not the facilities to make cooked meals.
  •  The conversion of the space off the courtyard into dry storage is essential to enable a catering enterprise to operate.
  • A double prep/washing up sink (in addition to the hand wash sink) will need to be permanent fixtures in the space along with the coffee machine, and electrics to power fridges.
  • Ideally the double sink and additional cold storage would be in the courtyard but this doesn’t seem feasible given potential building restrictions and the pillar blocking access.
  • Design will require counter area for serving, preparation and till. Cold storage required, recommend 3 undercounter fridges minimum – for milk, cold drinks, and food. Additional dry storage space for daily stock.
  • Need to be able to reconfigure the space on a regular basis for events so you will want to limit fixed items and have units on wheels.

Design / fit out:

  •  How do you balance the brand of the cafe with the aesthetic vision of the Stove for the space?
  •  Coffee machine would be expected to be part of the equipment that came with the space.
  • Due to space limitations, it may be difficult to fit in a dishwasher in the proposed set-up. This means that all drinks and food would need to be served in compostable paper plates/cups, essentially like take away. This may not appeal to all customers. If an industrial dishwasher was integrated into the prep space and china serving ware was used, additional staffing would be required to clear tables and manage washing up and additional storage space would be needed for china.

Further thoughts

Sourcing / Pricing policy:

There is a direct tension between local/fair trade sourcing and affordability/accessibility of the cafe (i.e. having a more expensive menu than other local cafes and therefore being seen as niche market). The general trend in food businesses in Dumfries is to sell at a very low price (e.g. £1.40 for a take away toastie). This results in food that is not locally sourced, organic, ethical, and is often quite highly processed. Some people in Dumfries may be willing to pay more for better quality ethically sourced food (making it a unique selling point for the cafe), but not everyone. The Stove need to make a decision about how important local food is to them, and define what they mean by ‘local’, ‘ethical’ and ‘sustainable’ in the tender document, as these terms can be very widely interpreted. The Cafe manager/operator may need to charge more than other cafes in the area to fulfil this brief. It’s quite simple to serve organic fairtrade tea and coffee, because the mark-up is much greater on hot drinks than it is on food. There is good profit margin on seasonal veg soups, so this would be a good item on the menu to showcase local produce. Sourcing good quality meat, cheeses, and bread, and keeping prices competitive with other local establishments will be more difficult. The Stove could consider developing a “prefered supplier” list e.g. cheese from Loch Arthur, bread from Earth’s Crust, dried goods from Greencity Wholefoods. The Cafe Manager/Operator would then need to price the menu accordingly based on these suppliers. We think seasonal soup using local ingredients could be the unique food offer, and the best option with limited prep/storage space. This could be a springboard for creating a local food hub, engaging with local growers and setting up fruit and veg bartering schemes. This requires a creative and competent cook/cafe manager to make use of available seasonal produce to prepare fresh soup each day. Alternatively the cafe manager could research other caterers/local businesses that could supply fresh soup, sandwiches, and cakes on a daily basis.

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