Miriam’s Munchies started off as a hobby baking project in local farmer’s markets - now it’s a vital part of the community.
Miriam’s Munchies is buzzing when British Baker arrives, and before we can catch founder/director/baker Cathy Smith for a word, we overhear two comments from passers-by.
The first: “I like this shop, it’s a great place.” The second: “We should go there again, it was so nice.” Expectations bolstered, we continue.
Miriam’s Munchies, named after Cathy’s daughter and the venture’s co-founder Miriam (now chief taster), came about as a result of Cathy’s long-term love of baking. She studied food science and marketing at university, then patisserie in Paris, after which she started her own catering business, but took a job in marketing and sales for British Airways (BA) because of the need for a steady income.
“I was always a hobby baker and just wasn’t sure I could make a living from it,” she says of the decision to join the airline. Then, about 10 years ago, she started her own baking business, which she ran at local farmers’ markets. “I baked on the Saturday and sold on the Sunday – that’s where it all began, really.”
In a twist of fate she was offered a redundancy package from BA. “It was pretty scary at the time, but it was one of those ‘now or never’ things.”
Cathy started to bake cakes at home for local cafés and corporate clients – the foundation on which Miriam’s Munchies is built: “I still do a lot of work for businesses and corporate events.”
But the workload kept growing “to the point where the house was overrun with cakes. So I either had to stop or move premises.” And move she did. “Two-and-a-half years ago, we opened here.”
Two years on, she says, people are still surprised to come across the bakery. “There is new passing trade every day. People come in for a slice of cake and a coffee, or to taste items for a later order.”
Cathy is keen to retain the home-baked, craft feel, and says the open kitchen reflects this ethos. “People can see what we’re doing all the time, through the open wall and also the large external window.”
All the cakes are baked on-site daily, while the bread and croissants come from a local craft baker.
The business has recently been added to the Deliveroo website, so people can order local baked goods 24 hours a day. “That has opened up a new corner of the market. You can order a proper homemade cake to have on your table tomorrow.”
Miram’s Munchies, Harrow
Who: Cathy Smith, co-founder, full-time director and baker, studied food science and marketing at university,
then patisserie in Paris.
She later started her own catering firm. The business is named after her daughter,
What: Cakes, in any shape, colour and size; a collection of brownies, biscuits and tarts; freshly baked croissants; and a range of breads. A coffee machine buzzes non-stop, as the bakery doubles up as a café.
Where: 405-407 Station Road, Harrow HA1 2AT
When: The shop opened two years ago.
Why: Cathy and Miriam have always been “passionate hobby bakers”. But a redundancy package and a growing client base at local farmers’ markets made their business dream