Woodstock Club’s Laura Lachowecki is expanding the pastry program by offering a wider range of homemade, morning-baked goods.
Pastry Chef Laura Lachowecki’s pecan coffee cake—made with a layer of rich cake, topped with sweet pecan filling, topped with more cake and finished with a heavy layer of streusel—is easily the most popular breakfast pastry at Woodstock Club (Indianapolis, Ind.). But it’s far from the only delicious option these days.
Having been at the club for nearly a year, Lachowecki has been hard at work developing an in-house pastry program while also making waves as a rising star in the pastry world. (Lachowecki was recently named as a finalist to compete for the coveted title of Pastry Chef of the Year at Paris Gourmet’s U.S. Pastry Competition.)
“The club brought on a full-time, dedicated Pastry Chef to expand variety and offer better-quality baked goods to our members,” says Lachowecki, who was previously the Executive Pastry Chef at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind. “It helps us differentiate our club and allows us to go well beyond what had been done previously.”
Now, instead of only offering muffins, donuts and danish at breakfast, Lachowecki is busy baking up dozens of different pastries, ranging from banana-nut breads and blueberry-lemon muffins to sweet buns and cinnamon rolls.
“When we make breakfast pastries in-house, we have full control over how they’re made and what goes into them,” says Lachowecki. “This makes it easier for us to modify or accommodate special dietary requests like gluten- or nut-free.”
(Some items like donuts and croissants, she notes, are still bought from local bakeries, simply because she doesn’t currently have the equipment or space to make them herself.)
Lachowecki firmly believes that simply because a member or guest has a food allergy or intolerance, he or she shouldn’t be overlooked by the pastry chef. So she has developed a string of recipes with special dietary issues in mind.
“My favorite is our spice cake,” she says. “It’s soy-, nut-, egg- and gluten-free and is a simple, but flavorful base that we can add carrot, zucchini or even dried fruit to. It’s great for breakfast or brunch, but works in other ways, too.”
Items that are allergen-friendly are always labeled as such on Woodstock Club’s menus and buffets.
“The biggest challenges we have right now are space and equipment,” says Lachowecki, noting that Woodstock has 500 members and does $1.38 million in annual F&B. “But we’re making big strides and slowly purchasing bakery-friendly equipment, to take the whole pastry program to the next level with more modern twists and more delicious traditional items.”
Almond-raspberry coffee cake and lemon-basil muffins are among member favorites—but one breakfast pastry is so delicious, it’s gone mainstream at Woodstock. The banana bread is not only served both at breakfast and brunch events, but also alongside the club’s chicken salad at lunch.
“When we can offer our members something fresh and homemade, no matter what time of day, it elevates the dining experience,” says Lachowecki. “It adds value to the membership and distinguishes the club.”