LOGAN SQUARE — A Puerto Rican bake shop serving fruit-filled cupcakes and other sweet and savory treats from the island is opening on Fullerton Avenue in Logan Square.
Borinken Cakes is taking over a vacant storefront at 3313 W. Fullerton Ave. Owner Rachel Diaz aims to open Aug. 1.
The Logan Square shop will be Borinken Cakes’ second location, joining its flagship in Archer Heights. Diaz also ran a mall kiosk in suburban Norridge, but she recently closed that to focus on the brick-and-mortar shops.
“We’re super excited to be part of this community,” Diaz said. “We’ve been asked to open in that [neighborhood] for a really long time. We’re very excited it’s finally happening.”
Diaz, 32, has baked since she was a kid and uses family recipes passed down over generations. Diaz and her family are from San Juan.
Diaz previously designed toys and craft kits for major retailers like Target, keeping up her baking skills only as a hobby. She decided to turn that passion into a business in 2019 after her company shut down and she had her second son.
“I just had to rethink my life: What do I want to do? Do I want to go back to an office world now that I have two kids? Work from home and keep designing? That wasn’t fulfilling enough,” she said. “I’d like to do something greater for the community.”
With help from her sister and mother, Diaz launched Borinken Cakes out of a shared kitchen in Archer Heights, where she lives with her husband and their two sons, 13 and 3.
Business took off. After months of pandemic delays, Diaz opened a mall kiosk in Harlem Irving Plaza at 4104 N. Harlem Ave. in July 2020. Months later, she opened her first brick-and-mortar bakery in Archer Heights.
Now, Diaz is making moves again. She decided not to renew her lease in Norridge so she could open in Logan Square, where she said she’s built up a strong customer base.
The Fullerton Avenue storefront is perfect because it’s next to the American-Caribbean restaurant Caribella, which already carries Borinken Cakes’ cupcakes, Diaz said.
Borinken Cakes Logan Square will carry a limited menu similar to that of the mall kiosk: cupcakes made with guava and passion fruit and other fillings that are popular in Puerto Rico, such as Nutella and coconut; merenguitos, or small meringues; quesitos, or small cheese pastries; and guava-filled pastries called pastelillitos.
“In Puerto Rico, we love to play around with three things: guava, coconut and Nutella,” Diaz said. “The way we do cakes on the island is different from here. From the longest time I thought it was the normal way to bake. Our cakes are very moist, infused with other flavors.”
Diaz serves cupcakes, rather than cakes, because they’re more approachable and affordable, she said.
All of the cupcakes and pastries will be baked out of the Archer Heights shop using fresh ingredients, some all the way from Puerto Rico. Diaz said she has relatives bring passion fruit to Chicago from the island when they go on trips there. Fruit “just doesn’t taste the same in the states,” she said.
Diaz said Borinken Cakes is a love letter to her two aunts, who taught her how to bake Puerto Rican sweets at a young age. Both women have died in recent years, and the bakery is a way to carry on their legacy, she said.
One of the first recipes Diaz learned from her aunts — a vanilla cake infused with brandy and topped with a crispy almond icing — is on the menu in the form of a cupcake.
“People need to enjoy these beautiful things they used to make,” Diaz said.
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