From a stall in Greenwich Market to a concession at Harrods and a 12-feet tall cake in Bahrain, Rosalind Miller’s creations have taken the world by storm
Words: Ellie Fells
Rosalind Miller was way ahead of the cupcake trend. During a trip to New York in 2005 she visited the world-renowned Magnolia Bakery, and in that moment Miller decided that she was going to bring cupcakes back to England.
At the time, she was working as a lecturer at Central St Martin’s College of Art having been trained in design. Alongside her artistic talent, however, Miller was armed with a cookbook, determination and the ability to ‘bake a good cake’. This proved to be the winning recipe.
Miller began by setting up a stall at Greenwich Market from which she would sell her cupcakes. Initially she balanced this with lecturing, spending every free moment baking. Her hard work paid off, as the stall proved a resounding success.
‘We had the whole of Greenwich come to see the pretty little cakes,’ she explains, ‘because no-one had seen anything like that before!’
She now heads up Rosalind Miller Cakes, the bakery whose creations put those in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to shame. Miller’s team are based in a studio in Brockley, and although she still makes cupcakes, her brand has diversified to specialise in multi-award-winning wedding cakes and dessert tables.
Perhaps what makes Miller so unique is the fact that her background is in art and design, something that has had a big influence on her baking.
She explains: ‘Because I didn’t do any formal pastry training or anything like that, I came at it with a fresh eye. Rather than looking at a cake and thinking “I could do a bit of piping on that”, I look at the cake as a whole, as a design piece.
‘I always baked as a child with my mum,’ she adds, ‘so we did spend a lot of time making cakes, but I’d never done it professionally before I started the business.’
Baking has continued to be a family affair; Miller was joined in 2013 by her daughter Yasmine, and the two have learnt to play to one another’s strengths.
‘It takes quite a bit of getting used to because you have to change from the role of mother and daughter to professionals, but we work well together,’ Miller says.
‘Yasmine does the business, marketing and social media side of things, and I look after the kitchen and design.’
They are accompanied by a small team in Brockley, where all the cakes are handmade to taste as good as they look. ‘We try to use organic ingredients, and we use local free range eggs,’ Miller adds.
When a space came up for rent on the same site as Miller’s original base, it proved the perfect opportunity for her to launch Rosalind Miller – The Studio, where she now runs baking masterclasses.
‘We thought “let’s branch out” because baking is so popular,’ she explains, ‘so now we’re running a whole programme of classes.
‘It’s become a huge, huge thing. Cupcakes were suddenly everywhere, and I think programmes like The Great British Bake Off are partly responsible. I think that everyone can do it. With baking, if you’ve got a good recipe and a few techniques, it’s simple.
‘People are sometimes a bit frightened and think “I can’t do that”, but that’s what we’re there for, to teach them.’
Cupcakes were suddenly everywhere, and I think Great British Bake Off was partly responsible. I think that everyone can do it. If you’ve got a good recipe and a few techniques, it’s simple
The most popular class is the Baking Fundamentals session where pupils learn the basic steps of the craft, showing that more and more people are putting on their aprons and giving cake making a go.
Miller’s baking, however, is far from basic. Her cakes are art forms, with intricate detailing that makes them worthy of a space in a gallery. Her designs are now stocked by Harrods, a move that was a particular career highlight for Miller.
Her cakes have also taken her beyond London, becoming a favourite for royal weddings in the Middle East where they make lavish centre pieces: ‘The last one we did in Bahrain was absolutely amazing – it was a 12-feet cake which was all hand-painted!’
Although catering for royal weddings in the Middle East is something that most of us can only dream of, what advice does Miller have for aspirational bakers?
‘Find a good recipe, follow the instructions and just practice, practice, practice.’
To find out more about Rosalind Miller’s baking classes, see rosalindmillercakes.com