I first learned of The DoughMother, about a month ago, when Mr U presented me with a white paper bag containing a couple of still warm sourdough baguettes and a fruit syrup glazed koulouri which was nothing short of divine!
Baked goods have a way of invoking feelings of reassurance; of being hugged from the inside. We ate the baguettes with a bowl of homemade soup later, perfect! The creativity was evident, and so I had to find out more.
Baking is an experience we can all appreciate in a holistic way. Getting back in touch with all our senses, particularly our sense of smell, can revive happy memories of early childhood. Scent is the first way we recognised our mothers, and contributes to us feeling safe and loved. According to psychologist and columnist Linda Blair, who wrote an article extolling the virtues of The Great British Bake-Off, ‘the act of baking is a process, not a soundbite. It takes time to read a recipe, gather the ingredients, mix the dough, let it rise, shape it, and then bake what we’ve created.’ It’s how we humans are most comfortable operating, understanding what we are doing, step by step. It’s good for our wellbeing, and all this effort brings us great rewards.
…she had lived in various parts of Beeston and fell in love with the place. She liked the convenience of not having to go into the city to buy essentials and felt drawn to the town, ‘It had a good feeling.’
We have been back a couple of times since and it seems word has got out already in the neighbourhood about the artisan boulanger in the middle of Central Avenue. Each time we visit we are greeted with a generous welcome, Houlia tells me that they celebrated their two-month anniversary on New Year’s Day and already she and her partner Alican have attracted regular customers. Houlia is ‘The DoughMother.’ She is responsible for the warm scent of bread baking in the busy oven out back. The aroma alone is enough to entice you in, but they have more than delicious loaves on offer to tempt you. Alican is the maker of the sweeter treats. The koulouri is his speciality, but they also have a range of cakes and pastries in their antique glass cabinet. The flour they use for the breads is locally sourced, from Green’s Mill in Sneinton. They are proud of the space that they have built together and overwhelmed with the support they received from friends in bringing their dream to reality.
Using reclaimed bits and pieces, transported by supermarket trolley in the absence of a car, they have created a welcoming café space which encourages you to stay, have a coffee, read a book or just enjoy the eclectic mix of music playing in the background. It is an honest place where everyone is welcome. Alichan tells me about their plans to develop the secure back yard into an area where children can play safely, whilst their parents enjoy a coffee and a catch up with a friend. Houlia tells me how the whole idea for The DoughMother came about and why she chose this area: she tells me that since moving from a small island in Greece to Nottingham in 2011 to study for a Biology Masters, and then her PhD, she had lived in various parts of Beeston and fell in love with the place. She liked the convenience of not having to go into the city to buy essentials and felt drawn to the town, ‘It had a good feeling.’
Living close to Central Avenue, she noticed that lack of opportunities for locals to buy the wholesome, home-cooked food that would have been available in her home town, and how important this experience is to communities. Both she and Alichan talked of the alienation that is occurring in society and how providing spaces like The DoughMother is encouraging people to come out of their homes in search of nourishment after a busy working day, to enjoy a bit of escape from that in a space that breathes a nurturing warmth into their lives. It’s a place to meet friends, enjoy community and celebrate the very basic nourishment of life, eating together.
I look around and appreciate the emblems of a simple life: a wire basket of milk bottles reminds me of Mr Jeffries, our copper-topped milkman, who dropped off our daily pint as we still slumbered, and came around cheerily on a Friday afternoon for his milk money. There are accents of nature, lush greenery against the soft tangerine walls, and the mismatched furniture harks back to a time when things were built to last.
If you haven’t discovered this little gem yet, then you really should pay them a visit. You can’t miss the clever signage, designed by Houlia herself, thankfully you won’t find any Mafiosi drinking the Greek coffee and beating you to the pastries.
You will find The DoughMother at 109 Central Avenue, Beeston, NG9 2QS Or on Facebook at facebook.com/thedoughmother