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Hidden gem: Rising Dough Scottish Bakery bringing traditional food to Waterloo Region for 28 years

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A small bakery, nestled in an old brick building on King Street East, has been bringing fresh, traditional Scottish food to Waterloo Region for the past 28 years.

The shop opened in 1996 when Alex McFarlane and his wife, Ruby, moved from Scotland to Cambridge.

“My brother-in-law did a lot of baking in Scotland and in Toronto,” Alex explained. “He suggested that we open up a bakery and call it Rising Dough Scottish Bakery.”

He was 48-years-old the time and needed to learn how to bake.

“I worked for the Civil Service Ministry of Defence back home for 30 years, and I’ve done [the bakery] now for 28 years. So I’ve had two careers, if you like,” Alex said with a laugh.

The McFarlane’s purchased the property and made it their own.

“The old owners used to smoke a lot in this place, so I decided when I took it over I was going to have a completely non-smoking restaurant – the first restaurant to go non-smoking in Ontario,” Alex said. “We were told we were only going to last six months and 28 years later, we’re still here.”

Rising Dough Scottish Bakery on King Street East in Cambridge, Ont. (Stefanie Davis/CTV Kitchener)

Alex and Ruby’s children essentially grew up in the bakery.

“We’d always come in after school and we would sit with the dessert boxes and make dollhouses out of them,” Laura McFarlane, who now works as the shop manager, recalled. “My parents worked so much when they first came to Canada, so we would just have to hang out here. We were always eating desserts and our parents would let us make cookies to take home.”

She said customers still visit the shop who she’s known since she was a little girl.

“It’s cozy, it’s familiar and now I can bring my children in here so they can have the same experience as I did,” Laura added.

Sticking with tradition

The bakery focuses on making fresh, traditional Scottish foods. The goal is to bring a piece of Scotland to everyone in the region, regardless of their cultural background.

“It’s a tradition in Scotland and England that every morning, people go down to the bakery for their fresh morning rolls,” Alex said. “So we do morning rolls, fresh breads, and we also do our Scotch pies, steak pies, chicken pies, sausage rolls and lots of various cakes and tarts.”

All are baked fresh every single morning.

Rising Dough Scottish Bakery on King Street East in Cambridge, Ont. (Stefanie Davis/CTV Kitchener)

“It’s quality over quantity. We only make small batches at a time and then we start fresh every single day,” Laura said.

The bakery also brought in classic European-packaged cookie, candy and chocolate brands.

Christine McFarlane, a regular customer with no relation to the owners, said she’s been visiting the bakery daily for almost 13 years.

“Every day that they’re open I come in and get my coffee in the morning, and a treat, and often I’ll bring my mom down,” she said, adding she tends to pick the raisin bread. “I think we should support what I call our main street, and it’s not hard to support these people.”

As Alex looks towards retirement, his daughter is preparing to run the bakery.

“I want to take over my parents’ legacy because they did such a good job at creating this bakery out of the ground, and I want to continue having that for them for the next 30 years,” Laura said. “I want to offer the same quality ingredients to the customers, the way that they know it. We’ve got customers whose grandchildren come in here now, and they expect the same quality product.”

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