30,000 Pounds of Flour! 

Nestled in the heart of the Misericordia campus is a sweet spot, the Hearts and Flour Bakery. The bakery has been in existence for 36 years, the brainchild of Sr. Rosemary. It began as a space in the main kitchen but eventually moved to its own space on the second floor of the main building. It adopted its current name in 2000, when online sales started.

There are 14 full-time staff, working in the bakery and bakery packaging. Eighty residents work various days and shifts throughout the week and an average of 20 volunteers help out daily. The number of volunteers jumps to 50–100 during the holiday season.

The bakery has several outlets where they sell their goods. A small shop in the Greenhouse Inn provides diners with sweets and other baked goods for carryout. The Sweet Heart Shoppe in Glenview sells baked goods as well as sandwiches, coffee, and gift items. In the warmer months, the familiar bakery tent is present at Chicago farmer’s markets, both at Daley Center and the Federal Plaza. Sweets on Wheels is a portable version of the bakery—a food truck available for rental and staffed by residents. In addition to these physical locations, the bakery sells goods online and provides desserts and sweets for various campus events.

Holiday time at the bakery is very busy. Orders have consistently increased by 10% year over year since 2000. In November and December of 2019, the bakery shipped over 10,000 gifts. The Chocolate Chip Cookie Tin is the biggest-selling holiday item.

This year’s holiday season will look different at the Hearts and Flour Bakery. Since the onset of the pandemic, neither residents nor volunteers currently work in the bakery, although the Sweet Heart Shoppe reopened in June. The current emphasis is on online sales. The bakery follows all CDC/IDPH guidelines to create a safe environment for staff and all who continue to show their support.

Want to know some fun facts about the bakery?

The bakery averages around 120 different items. The number varies with the seasons and new items are regularly added.

Chocolate chip cookies, brownie hearts, and Irish soda bread are the bakery’s best sellers overall. Popular custom orders include special-occasion cakes and decorated shortbread cookies.

Family Fest is the most profitable day for the bakery, selling approximately $30,000 in baked goods.

The largest single order for the bakery came from ComEd—an order for 3,000 pounds of chocolate chip cookies.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the ingredients used by the bakery over the course of a year:

  • 116,000 eggs
  • 30,000 pounds of flour
  • 25,000 pounds of sugar
  • 18,000 pounds of butter
  • 1,600 pounds of cocoa powder

The zucchini used in the zucchini bread comes from multiple sources. Some is grown in our very own Greco Gardens, which provides up to 20 pounds a week in the height of the growing season. The rest is purchased from local farmer’s markets. During this time, the workers shred 50 pounds of zucchini each week and squeeze out the excess moisture.

The bakery’s signature brownie comes from a family recipe of a Misericordia family. Following the advent of online sales, the brownie heart was created for large-scale distribution. Each heart is hand cut and sprinkled with powdered sugar. Did you ever wonder what happens to all those scraps when the brownies are cut? The bakery uses them in at least three different items and sells the remainder to a local Evanston restaurant for use in one of their desserts.

We look forward to the next chapter of the Hearts and Flour story—a new bakery and café, which will provide additional work opportunities for residents and tasty treats for all. And don’t forget to shop online at the bakery for your holiday gifts.