Photo: Made from Scratch owner Valerie McGrath prides herself on her pastry creations, which she creates only with fresh ingredients. Photos by Sandy Kaczmarski
by Sandy Kaczmarski
ELBURN—Nearly every week last summer, Village Administrator Erin Willrett was asked the same question: when will the bakery open on Main Street? And nearly every week, the answer was the same: she didn’t know and hadn’t heard anything. That is, until last month when Made from Scratch quietly opened, selling homemade pastries and coffee six days a week.
“We opened inauspiciously,” owner Valerie McGrath, said. “I didn’t want a big splash.”
McGrath said it was “kind of a funny opening” anyway. On the eve of opening, one of her bakers was cleaning the dough roller and pinched his fingers in it.
“We had to go to the emergency room at 10:30 that night,” she said. “I didn’t open the next day, because I was like, what do I do now? It’s down to me.”
She took an extra day and quickly revamped the menu, making it very simple: two or three cupcakes, four cookies and some breakfast pastries.
McGrath moved to Elburn about seven years ago, so when she decided she wanted to open a new shop, she thought she’d cut her commute time. She had lived in Hinsdale, Ill., while co-owning Bar Italia in Geneva with her husband for about five years, and was tired of the long commute every day. When he became ill and died shortly after, she closed down.
“It’s a difficult business to be in without a partner and another set of eyes,” McGrath said.
When considering a location, she pointed out that Geneva and St. Charles are saturated with pastry shops and bakeries. She figured, why not in her own back yard?
“Wouldn’t that be nice just to have a pastry shop in downtown Elburn?” she said. “They (Elburn) need this. There’s nothing around here.”
McGrath attended Cordon Bleu in Chicago and also is certified in pastries. Her experience includes working at some high-end restaurants in Naperville and Oak Brook in the pastry department. It’s something she specializes in, using only natural ingredients like real butter and eggs. Fruit products will be available when they are in season, so they are always fresh.
“I don’t use any food coloring,” McGrath said. “If you want something pink, it’s gonna be flavored with either strawberry or raspberry.”
Her favorite pastry to make is cake, which she said a lot of people have gotten away from.
“I really do love layer cakes—Bavarian creams and Genoise sponge cakes,” she said.
Her plans include doing more of the “savory” things, such as a quiche of the day and pastry tarts. She’d also like to expand to serve a light lunch with soup, quiche or some other type of vegetable and cheese dish, and sandwiches.
“It’s amazing how many people come in for quiche—a lot of men,” she said. “We change the flavors and use lots of eggs.”
A basic quiche lorraine is with bacon and Swiss cheese, but she’ll also vary it with broccoli and cheddar or wild mushrooms, roasted red peppers and sun-dried tomatoes.
One item in particular has proven itself to be the most popular.
“I’ve got this one cookie,” she said, with a slight smile. “This thing is called the Chocolate Chubby. They’re 95 percent chocolate.”
She admits it’s a very expensive cookie, but that doesn’t seem to diminish its popularity. She said there’s one guy who works down the street who always buys one for his wife when he comes in for a coffee.
“It’s hysterical. He says she’s addicted to it,” she said.
The corner shop at 2 S. Main St. is bright and cheery, decorated in the black and white checkerboard style of her favorite designer, MacKenzie Childs. The shop is open six days a week, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday. She also serves coffee, hot tea, milk, orange juice and bottled water and is looking into getting an expresso machine.
Her goal is to keep the menu changing so customers can always expect something new.
“This is a baby that needs to grow,” she said.
Made From Scratch Pastry Shop
2 S. Main St., Elburn
(corner of Route 47 & North St.)
The shop is open six days a week, Tuesday through Friday:
8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The shop is bright and cheery, decorated in the black and white checkerboard style