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When it comes to Miller's Bakery in Millersburg, Ohio, you can thank an excess of egg whites for starting it all back in 1967.
Barbara Miller was making noodles for a local restaurant at the time and there were so many egg whites left over from the noodle making process that she and her husband Sam decided to start making and selling angel food cakes.
Miller started the bakery from her home with the help of her daughter, Mary Miller, who worked with her and managed the business, and her son, Jonas Miller (who would become full owner of the business in 1990).
The Miller family was good friends with the owners of Guggisberg Cheese and their children would often play together, so it was a natural choice to sell their cakes there.
"I remember when we were young we used to haul that angel food cake down to Guggisberg," said Jonas Miller, Miller's Bakery Owner. "Eventually though, the cakes sold so well that they would run out before we could bring down a new batch." Guggisberg started sending customers up to the house directly to Miller telling them, "she might have some made that they just haven't brought down yet."
One of Miller's friends told her if you can bake a cake you can bake bread. This started the creation of different breads, pastries, cookies, donuts and many other products that are still being sold in Miller's Bakery today, along with bulk food items and a craft/gift shop near the back of the store.
Possibly one of the tastiest items Miller's Bakery has to offer are their various tarts. "My sister, Mary and I worked for months to get that recipe exactly right," Jonas remembered. "We would make up a batch, taste it, then wait a few days, make another batch and it kept getting better and better until we were happy with it."
The amount of love and work that goes into each product makes it taste all the more special. The dough for all the items made in the bakery is mixed by hand. The only time a beater is used is for the egg whites and possibly for frosting. No mixers means that the products take more time to make, but the difference is in the taste and it makes for a fabulous, flaky crust on the tarts that is very challenging to duplicate.
"I've given that recipe to people but I always tell them not to be surprised if it doesn't turn out that way when they make it," said Jonas. "We have our own methods and ways of doing things here that just can't be duplicated in the kitchen at home. I even had a gentleman once who wanted to come and work in our bakery for 30 days to learn the techniques. I had to tell him no, but the fact that he wanted to do that tells me we must be doing something right."
Talking with someone in town or hearing about it from a friend of a friend is probably the way that most people have found out about this quaint and delicious bakery, nestled on a hillside in Holmes County. The smell of wood smoke in the air from the cabins down below the store will take you back instantly to a simpler time.
"To sit here on a log cut from one of the trees on the hill and have a cup of coffee right from the stove, while you eat your tart or your donut, there's just nothing like that," said customer Sandy Ryan, from Grafton, Ohio. "They know that they can keep things simple here and I hope it stays that way."
There have been those that would attempt to ruin this perfection. People who may think that the small business should open multiple branches or sell their recipes to the highest bidder, but Jonas Miller knows he has something special and so do his customers.
"I've been coming here for 30 years," said Barbara Mann, also from Grafton. "We drive almost an hour and we love the cinnamon twists. I take some home and put them out for my family and about an hour or so later it's all gone. Sometimes I have to hide mine in the dishwasher just so I can have a bite!"
Miller's Bakery recently played host to some international guests when a group visiting the area from Japan stopped in to sample the bakery items while visiting several other Amish owned businesses for an article they were writing.
There have been hectic times in the early years of the business when the bakery had to run ovens that were meant for baking pizzas long into the night. Now the ovens they use are much more sufficient for baking and the team can come in during off times and make products for local fund raisers, auctions and charity events in the community if need be.
The busiest time of year for the bakery is around October. Coming up in a few years Miller's Bakery will be celebrating their 50-year anniversary and to commemorate this occasion Jonas plans on making sure they celebrate not only their success but their customers as well.
The bakery's record for the most product that was ever sold in one day was when they made 127 dozen tarts that went out the door for customers (this happened during the busy season). For anyone doing the math that is 1,524 tarts in a single day.
Visiting the bakery this spring, customers can expect special flower cookies and other favorites like their popular buttermilk cookies. French toast lovers can pick up a loaf of Cream Bread and for those who love a good piece of toast from the toaster, the Garden Bread (which is the Cream Bread with dried veggies added) is a perfect snack for any time of day. There are also Cabin Monster cookies, chocolate chip & peanut butter cookies, snickerdoodles, whoopie pies, fry pies, raisin bars and nine different flavors of tarts including red raspberry, blueberry, cherry, cheese, plain and pecan.
Many of the local businesses stop out in the morning and pick up items for their employees. Workers can grab a donut or baked good on their coffee break. Occasionally there may be a way to work out a delivery to a place that is already on the morning route for someone, but as of right now Miller's Bakery does not offer delivery of their products.
"Some of our items ship very well," said Miller. "But there are certain things, like the crème sticks, that just don't do well in the shipping and handling process."
The creaking doors and the wooden floors, the aromas of butter blending with sugar and the smell of hot coffee waiting on the stove, these are the things that keep regular customers coming back again and again. As the bell dings out a loud, friendly clang over the door, you realize there is something to be said for keeping a business small - keeping it unique.
While the business has grown from just 2 or 3 employees to now having 10 on staff, it still remains true to the methods and the ideas that were put in place many years ago. The store is a great place to stop in and look around, but in the mornings the staff understands that many people are in a hurry and it is just as convenient to stop in and pick up items quickly.
"We know that people are often on their way to work or just stopping on a break," said Jonas. "So we always try to be accommodating. We also take call in orders over the phone, that way if someone is driving from a distance we can make sure we don't run out of what they are looking for. The best time to come is in the morning though, when we haven't run out of anything yet."
Miller's Bakery is located at 4280 Township Road 356 in Millersburg. Regular store hours are Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. To call in an order or find out more information call 330-893-3002.
This is the best bakery in Holmes County. Their baked goods are light and fluffy. The best dough around! Their apple fritters are to die for as are the cinnamon rolls and tarts. We have started to call ahead and pre-order to make sure they are not sold out when we get there. The place is busy for a reason--their bakery can not be beat, Bought a peanut butter chocolate pie there last year that was WONDERFUL! It's our first stop on a trip to Holmes Co!
We ALWAYS stop at Miller's when we visit the area. We come from Virginia and it is about 6 - 7 hour drive but we love the area and try to get there at least 2 - 4 times a year. We often bring friends with us. They all love Miller's Bakery and when we come we usually have "orders" for the things our friends like. I'm so glad to hear that we can call to place orders so you won't run out of what we want to take home with us. That is really good to know.
Sorry to hear you were unable to get your favorite treats at Miller's Bakery. For specific order questions, please call Jonas at 330-893-3002 and mention that you read their article in Amish Heartland Magazine!
Love your bakery,,,visit in the summer ,,,My Question my brother loves your oatmeal cake ,,,missed your bakery one day was closed so we asked at the rest of the amish stores no body else makes them and they didnt know what we ment one other place had oatmeal pie but not the same ,,,,are you the only bakery that has these ????? and can you get them sent to Lorain or Elyria ?? thanks ,,,