When you walk into Delightful Pastries bakery, you can smell delightful fragrances—sugar, cinnamon, lemon, chocolate, and others. You see delightful shapes and colors in the glass display cases.
The passion for creating high-quality, beautiful baked goods makes owners Dobra Bielinski and Stasia Hawyrszczuk culinary artists.
The mother-daughter team opened the bakery in 1998 with the goal of making authentic European-style pastries, using fine-quality, fresh ingredients and sourcing locally where possible. All products are made in-house. They do not add chemicals or preservatives. Dobra says, “I know what’s in our products—butter, flour, sugar, eggs.”
The family had to flee from Poland when Dobra was only 8 years old. First they went to Austria. A German woman who lived in their apartment building said that each young fräulein should know how to “recite poetry, embroider, and bake.” She taught Dobra a delicious concoction of pears, chocolate, and brandy. Dobra loved baking so much she started looking at recipes and baking on her own.
Then they moved to South Africa. During their time there, when Dobra was 9 to 15 years, friends would place baking orders with her. That was how she earned pocket money.
The family had friends in Chicago and moved when Dobra was 15. She enjoys Chicago for its international flavor, great food, and cultural events. She likes having her home and business on the Northwest Side. It is quiet, and she can walk outside at night. Being able to find parking sounds mundane, but it is part of what makes the area livable.
Dobra is active in the Jefferson Park community. She believes in the value of people working together and supporting each other.
Stasia works at the bakery every day. Mostly she works on the business side managing the wholesale business and the store front. She likes sales and interacting with people. However, she also makes wonderful paczkis, a traditional Polish fried-dough treat.
Dobra does most of the baking. Her dedication is shown in her desire to keep learning. She spends her free time reading baking books. Recently visitors found her making notes on rye bread. She says, “I want to under-promise and over-deliver.”
It is no wonder Delightful Pastries has won numerous accolades. Most recently, Thrillist named it Jefferson Park’s best bakery. “Unlike most Chicago-area bakeries, which only bring out the paczki once a year, this European shop offers the traditional Polish pastry year-round for your enjoyment. The treats come in flavors like plum jelly and custard-filled, and share the stage with everything from apricot kolaczki to blueberry turnovers.”
Delightful Pastries offers seasonal parties. The free Halloween event offered cookie decorating, caramel apples, face painting, and more. One family said, “Great event, today, Dobra! We had a great afternoon at the Delightful Pastries Halloween Bash!”
Dobra enjoys teaching. At one time Stasia hoped Dobra would become a college professor. Currently Dobra fulfills this desire by offering baking classes, held several times a year—classes include classic American desserts, pies, cookies, the famous paczkis, European tortes, and others.
Dobra supports Northwest Arts Connection’s vision to ensure that the Northwest Side is known as a destination for the arts. She firmly believes that “art improves everybody’s life. It is a vital component of who we are.”
5927 W Lawrence Ave
Besides the main location in Jefferson Park, Delightful Pastries has a store and café at the Chicago French Market, 131 North Clinton (Between Washington and Randolph) a European-style indoor market.
Dobra’s Recipe for Apricot Pecan Rugelah
Apricot-Raisin Filling Ingredients
6 ounces dried sour cherries
1 cup apricot preserves
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup orange juice
Cinnamon Pecan Topping Ingredients
4.5 oz toasted pecans
5.25 oz sugar
1 T cinnamon
5 oz melted butter
12 oz butter, cold and diced up
1 lb cream cheese, cold and diced up
14 oz pastry flour
14 oz patent flour
Make pastry: In a food processor, cut the butter into flour, till small pieces are left and then cut the cold cheese into the dough till the dough comes together and no big chunks of cheese are left. Pat the dough flat and refrigerate overnight wrapped up.
Make filling: Heat sour cherries in the orange juice until the cherries are moist and have absorbed most of the orange juice. Mix together well with the other filling ingredients.
Make topping: In a food processor, pulse pecans with sugar and cinnamon until nuts are finely ground.
Assemble cookies: Divide the dough into 4 rectangles. Put 3 pieces back in the fridge and roll out the dough into a rectangle of 20 inches by 4, cut the dough into 2 inch rectangles, cut those rectangles cut into triangles on the diagonal. Work with a very cold dough at all times, if the dough gets too warm pop back into your cooler. Spoon a ½ tsp of filling at the bottom of each triangle, and roll it up into a crescent. Dip the crescents in the melted butter and generously sprinkle on the topping. Put on a parchment lined paper and refrigerate. Do the same with the other pieces of dough. Once all of them are done they are ready to be baked.
Baking the cookies: Bake the cookies at 350F for 25-35 minutes till the cookies are baked through. Makes 24 cookies