In the Kitchen with Jocelyn Delk Adams
The kitchen can be the most intimate room in the house — it’s where everyone spends a lot of time in by themselves or with their family, whether it’s noshing on a snack or whipping up a favorite dish. In our series In the Kitchen with..., we feature a SwearBy Editor's kitchen must-haves. Read on to see what board-certified cookbook author and recipe developer Jocelyn Delk Adams of Grandbaby Cakes always has in her kitchen.
For Jocelyn Delk Adams, the kitchen has always been the heart of the home. " You have so many precious memories that surround food," she tells SwearBy, her young daughter's music playing in the background as we talk. "I remember the years I shared there with my grandmother, my mother, and my aunt making and creating recipes and meals for people. Now, I see others doing it in their own homes and tying those same recipes to their history. They’re creating new traditions for their families, and I think that’s why the kitchen is so special."
Those recipes she's talking about are the ones that make up her cookbook Grandbaby Cakes, a labor of love for Delk Adams (who has a widely followed Instagram and blog of the same name). She tells SwearBy that when she started the book, someone told her its akin to having a child. At the time, she hadn't yet had her daughter, but now, she agrees. "During the process, it is incredibly hard," she tells SwearBy. You’re testing recipes all the time. You’re creating self-imposed deadlines. I photographed the book as well. I think about the testing, the writing, and the editing. There are a lot of components. It’s a lot, a lot, a lot of hard work, but in the end, it’s worth it. It’s very much 'Oh you’re my baby.' Once you see it in print, it’s really incredible."
But why Grandbaby Cakes? It's because Delk Adams is the grandbaby in the very title of her cookbook and website. The baker's already prolific career is inspired by her grandmother. On her website, Delk Adams explains she'd spend summers in Mississippi with her grandmother whose cakes are so legendary people would line up for them. Now, Delk Adams takes the things she learned from her grandmother and shares them with others using her own modern, unique spin while still staying true to the spirit (and core ingredients) she grew up with.
What does this baking marvel use in the kitchen? We asked Delk Adams not only what's a must in her own baking space but also what she recommends for those of us who might not be quite as baking savvy as she is.
SwearBy: What’s the vibe and aesthetic of your kitchen?
JDA: I’m in between kitchens right now. I was previously in Chicago, and I moved to Dallas a little less than a year ago now. My husband and I are building a home, so I’ll have a brand new kitchen which I’m excited about! In the meantime, we’ve been living with my mom and dad, so I’ve been utilizing their kitchen. It's made me realize a lot in terms of streamlining my process and being about to bake and be comfortable in various settings.
I thought a lot about the things I would need and how to make [the new kitchen] accessible. Of course, once we get into it, I want to organize it a certain way because I use so many ingredients and go through them so quickly from testing recipes. You may buy flour and it’s gone in two seconds. I have so much butter in my mom’s freezer because I go through it so quickly. It’s really interesting, I’ve learned a lot in terms of just being able to adapt to different kitchens and different spaces in the last year or two.
SwearBy: What is your favorite thing to cook?
JDA: It's probably peach cobbler because it was one of my favorite recipes that my grandmother made. Now, I definitely make it at least once a summer or a couple of times during the summer. It’s just such a homey, comforting dessert. There’s also nothing like when you can have peaches in season. There's absolutely nothing like it. It's really nostalgic for me and reminds me of home.
SwearBy: What does the kitchen mean to you?
JDA: I think when you talk to most people it’s the heart of the home for everyone. So many major events and holidays surround food and a meal. So many precious memories surround food. We have all of these nostalgic moments — a certain memory may be tied to a specific taste or recipe that your family made every birthday. You may think about Sunday suppers and what that felt like — being around the table with your family. I feel like that’s what the tie is.
For me, the kitchen means being in a space that is a really comforting, zen place. Of course, there are the years I shared there with my grandmother, my mother, and my aunt making these recipes and creating these recipes and meals for people. Now, I see people doing it in their own homes and tying it to their history. They’re creating new traditions for their families, and I think that’s why it’s so special.
SwearBy: What's the most cherished item in your kitchen?
JDA: Right now, it’s probably my cookbook. A lot of people have cookbooks in their homes and keep them in their kitchens. But for the longest time, I wanted to be able to record family history, nostalgia, and recipes. I wanted to serve recipes I grew up with and give those a twist and provide those traditional recipes in a special way. Seeing all of that, all of those recipes and images of family and the old photographs, I think that’s definitely the most special thing in my kitchen.
SwearBy: What has been the most fulfilling part of running GrandBaby Cakes?
JDA: The thing that is absolutely amazing is that it has touched so many people. That’s been the thing that’s really been so incredible for me. It’s realizing that when I started [GrandBaby Cakes], it was just to share family recipes, and then, you don’t realize that a community builds around that. You end up having your own community of people and those recipes are now being passed down to other generations, to other families, and becoming a piece of fabric for that family. I think that’s the most incredible part of it. It’s like you start something small, and then the ripples happen, and it’s incredible to see where it has taken me.
Etekcity Food Kitchen Bowl Scale
“I definitely recommend a scale. A lot of old school bakers — and I consider myself an old school baker because that’s how I was taught — we will scoop out ingredients. That’s how I test and develop recipes. I’ve realized that for so many people, a cup of flour versus how much that weighs can totally change a recipe and can have someone’s success turn into failure. It can make a cake too dense or not have enough of the ingredient, or the ratios are totally thrown off because it’s not been weighed. Having a scale is a great way to make sure that you’re being more exact.”
“In terms of the things I value, it’s the things I use on a regular basis like my Kitchenaid Mixer. There’s not a week where I don’t use it or even several days in a week where I don’t use it. It’s a crucial part of any kitchen that I’m in. It moves around in terms of the kitchen setup I have at the moment and the kitchen I will have when our house is built. I’ve thought a lot about the things I would need and how to make them accessible.”
Calphalon Nonstick Bakeware
“What I’ve learned is that you can grab a starter baking kit, and it has a lot of everything. They’ll have a cookie sheet, a couple of round pans, a couple of spatulas, all of the beginning elements that would get you started. I feel like the rest are things that you don’t need to spend a ton of money on. Anyone who just wants to feel it out and see if they’re interested in baking longer term, can grab a few things, a very cheap option, and play around with it. See what they think, you know? Just play around and try to experiment and see if it’s something they want to do. Once you find out “Oh I like this,” then invest in more items.”
Nordic Ware Anniversary Bundt Pan
“I also use a lot of Nordicware. They’re really high quality. I specialize in a lot of pound cakes and bundt cakes, and people always ask me about which pans to buy for that. I really love the Nordicware because you don’t get a lot of sticking, and if you grease them well, your cakes are going to pop out really beautifully. They bake really evenly. I really like them. Plus, they have really gorgeous designs.”
Grandbaby Cakes: Modern Recipes, Vintage Charm, Soulful Memories
“My cookbook is probably my most cherished item right now. A lot of people have cookbooks in their homes, and a lot of people keep cookbooks in their kitchens. For the longest time for me, I wanted to be able to record family history, nostalgia, and recipes — to serve recipes I grew up with and give those a twist and provide those traditional recipes in a special way. Seeing all of that and seeing all of those recipes and images of family and all of those old photographs, I think that’s definitely the most special thing in my kitchen.”