Inside The Kitchen: Small Batch in Harbor Springs

“My alarm goes off anywhere between 3:30 and 4 a.m. depending how many times I hit the snooze button. And I hop out of bed, turn on the ovens, and just start baking.”

That’s the life of Lauretta Reiss, owner of Small Batch in Harbor Springs. The bakery/café opened last September when the self-trained kitchen curator took a sweet leap of faith.

“I was a footwear designer, head of design for a large footwear company based out of Los Angeles. …. I’d get home from a trip, I’d be gone 6-7 weeks and it was therapy for me. All I wanted to do was get into the kitchen and cook. And so I left the footwear industry and decided to do something that was another creative outlet. And this was.”

Every day Lauretta creates dozens of handcrafted treats, but for comfort food that really hits the spot, it’s all about the Mother Load Mac N Cheese. It starts with a thick gooey base of heavy whipping cream, cream cheese, goat cheese and caramelized onions.

But that’s not all, I mean this is the mother load.

“We have tomatoes, we have pea pods, roasted chicken, our four kinds of cheeses that are top secret, and fresh basil. And on top of that we’re going to put some bread crumbs as well.”

Because what’s better on carbs than carbs?

It all gets piled onto a bed of cavatappi pasta that traps all the fillings in its curlicue shape. Handmade breadcrumbs cover the cheesy mound and then she’s sent to the oven.

So where did the mother load come from? Mom, naturally. 

“As with all of the recipes, most of them have come from my mother and her mother so they’re decades old. Now I have faithfully reproduced these recipes but I’ve tweaked them a little bit and I’ve taken them from good, I think to great.”

And the customers agree.

Frequent Small Batch-er Robin Couzens gushed “Lauretta has this gift of surprising me every time I come in. It’s a like a party. A private party just for me.”

And the party doesn’t start until you’ve had the Raspberry Squares. 

“We’re making the first layer of our raspberry bars which is a shortbread crust. So really just butter and flour, two of our favorite ingredients.”

The shortbread dough is rolled smooth, then baked and cooled for round two, the homemade raspberry preserves. Then the final layer is a crumbly streusel topping of butter, flour and brown sugar, piled onto the pan and sent into the oven.

They’re sliced into easily share-able portions… but you make the call if you want to split. 

Of course there’s the gorgeous poached pear dumplings, daily quiche and endless cakes and tarts, too.

“Our sea salt chocolate chip cookies, we have a following…it’s almost like a cult. It’s crazy. There’s something about that combination and the brown butter inside of it, it’s the perfect chocolate chip cookie.”

But whatever treasure you take to-go or gobble down in store, Lauretta hopes to fill you up on more than confections.

“I want them to understand that there’s more than just running to a bakery and grabbing a cookie or a brownie, but to experience all of it. It’s about… I don’t want to say it’s about the brand but it kind of is. It’s what Small Batch is about. It’s not just about the food it’s about the experience.”