Photo: Grandbaby Cakes/Facebook
There’s nothing Jocelyn Delk Adams loves more than baking. The Chicago native recently dished about how her passion traces back to her grandmother’s Mississippi kitchen, where her grandma churned out caramel cakes, chess pies, and cornbreads. These days, though, Adams is all about putting her own spin on those beloved classics.
There are her mango jerk chicken wings. Her gluten-free chocolate orange cookies. And, of course, her brown butter “honey child” cornbread. All inhabit a comfortable space between the old and the new, forging ahead without forgetting the tried-and-true flavors of the past.
But we had a few more questions for Adams. Below, she reveals why you cook with more eggs—the secret to fluffier cakes!—and confesses to never measuring anything.
Go-to kitchen utensil:
A spatula. I love to get every ounce of cake batter into my pans. That way, I’m not tempted to lick the bowl.
Most underappreciated ingredient, in your opinion:
Eggs, especially in cakes. They provide structure and texture. I love to separate [out] the whites and whip them, which makes my cakes even lighter. More love needs to be given to eggs in baking!
Definitely [my grandmother] Big Mama’s peach cobbler.
Oddest flavor combo that you love:
I’m not one to experiment with odd flavors. I was a super-picky eater growing up, so even peanut butter and jelly was “odd” to me.
Kitchen “sin” for which you won’t apologize:
I hardly measure or weigh a thing in my kitchen, unless I am testing for the masses. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Big Mama’s handwritten recipes are better than any cookbook, though a close second place would be anything written by Shirley Corriher. Her book Bakewise has taught me more about the true science of baking than anything. (That, and trial and error).
Culinary “Eureka!” moment:
I still remember the first time I tasted Big Mama’s homemade vanilla ice cream as a child. I watched her make the custard, then churn it for what seemed like forever. It was the most incredible-tasting thing I’d ever experienced. Like mind-blowing-aha-moment delicious.
You’re about to bite the big one. What’s your last supper?
Filet mignon, cooked medium, alongside a deep dish pizza from Pequod’s in Chicago. I would end with peach cobbler for dessert.
Proudest food moment:
Definitely turning in the manuscript to my cookbook.
Toughest dish you’ve mastered:
It’s not necessarily tough, but it does require practice: I can make one lovely pie crust.
Best thing your parents taught you about food:
They taught me to never settle when it comes to my dining choices. My dad always believed in splurging on fantastic meals—we went to the top restaurants in Chicago and everywhere we vacationed, and his princess (that’s me) was able to order whatever she wanted on the menu. No kiddie menus for me! (You can say it, I was a bit spoiled.)
Ingredient that you just can’t stand:
I can’t stand condiments. In fact, I don’t like them within 10 yards of me. They are sooo disgusting to me! I have them removed from tables at restaurants. I have issues.
You can only eat one type of cuisine for the rest of your life. What is it?
Normally, I would just say “soul food” because my family’s cooking is at the heart of who I am, but I am so into Indian food right now. It might be a tie.
Ice cream or gelato?
Definitely gelato, all day everyday (unless it’s Big Mama’s ice cream). My husband and I went to Italy two years ago, and I had two scoops everyday of that trip!
Caramel or hot fudge:
Caramel because my family makes the best caramel cake ever, honey!
Vanilla or chocolate:
Both! They are the perfect pair. I always order one scoop of vanilla and one of chocolate, and love a marble cake more than words can ever express.
Hamburger or hot dog:
Hamburger. And not a turkey burger or even veggie burger. I’m talking about a real deal beef burger.
Oldest thing in your kitchen:
My cast iron skillet. It came from my family and might be as old as me!
Worst kitchen blunder you wish you could undo:
While I am quite the multi-tasker, I can sometimes juggle way too many things at once. Once, I was simultaneously baking three cakes—mixing one cake, prepping one for the oven, and removing one—when I forgot my oven mitts and burned my arm. The scar is still there seven years later, but I learned to never do so much at once again.
Some of our favorite Grandbaby Cakes dishes:
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