Courageous Bakery owner Laura Pekarik is hands on in the kitchen and passionate about putting out a quality product, but a great deal more than flour, sugar, butter and eggs go into the shop’s sublime offerings.
Shortly after Pekarik’s sister, Kathryn, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins T-cell lymphoma in 2010, the duo began baking together as a means to bring a little joy into their lives. Transforming their favorite desserts, like banana cream pie and strawberry shortcake, into cupcake form quickly became a hallmark of their baking escapades. The duo’s artful confections caught the attention of Elmhurst community members and Cupcakes for Courage was born.
Working out of a tiny ice cream parlor kitchen, Pekarik and her sister began peddling assorted cupcakes via a food truck, donating a generous portion of their profits to cancer research charities.
While cooking in the parlor kitchen served as a perfect professional stepping stone it also proved to be cumbersome. The young bakers hard work prevailed, however, leading the Pekarik sisters to open Courageous Bakery in downtown Elmhurst in the fall of 2012.
“The idea of having our own place was a little intimidating at first, but I knew we had to bake somewhere,” said Laura Pekarik. “Having our own space gives us the opportunity to prove we can do more than bake cupcakes.”
In addition to housing Cupcakes for Courage, Courageous Bakery gives back to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and the Ride Janie Ride Foundation. The pastry shop offers an array of scratch made pastries and the homey establishment recently began serving breakfast daily from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. Brunch is offered on Saturdays and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“When compared to typical fast foods,” Pekarik said, “who wouldn’t prefer a freshly cracked cage-free on a scratch-made croissant?”
Dining in the bakery is always an option, but commuters would do well to take advantage of the grab-and-go fare available every morning. Like cupcakes, Courageous Bakery’s breakfast menu features items served in personal portions and most menu items are ready in five minutes.
Savory items abound on Courageous Bakery’s breakfast menu. The straightforward burrito ($6) houses chorizo, peppery arugula, black beans and roasted red pepper on a fresh flour tortilla. The quiche Lorraine-inspired breakfast sandwich ($6) features a flawless homemade croissant layered with maple-roasted bacon, Swiss cheese, arugula and scrambled eggs.