Jocelyn Delk Adams’ Soulful Recipes

Food traditions are extremely important in the African American community. How we gather, celebrate, create and the passing down of family recipes is such a part of our heritage. It is through food that we can connect as a family, sit with our elders, learn age-old recipes, and are taught life lessons as well. That’s why we call it soul food. It’s more than food, it’s love.

That’s what can be discoverd in food blogger, Jocelyn Delk Adams’ debut book, Grandbaby Cakes: Modern Recipes, Vintage Charm, Soulful Memories – soulful family recipes. Filled to the brim with tradition, throughout the pages of this book, Jocelyn shares her family story. We follow Jocelyn, Big Mama, Mama, and her Auntie as they guide readers through baking recipes like Mama’s 7Up Pound Cake, Pineapple Upside-Down Cupcakes, and the irresistible Red Velvet Cake with Blackberry Whipped Cream Frosting.

“I hope I am making the art of baking seem cool and fresh again for younger audiences, while also honoring those that came before me,” says Adams. “But most importantly, I hope I am inspiring a need for families to reconnect, find their legacies, and carry them forward in their own contemporary ways.”

This book is unique, a cookbook that will inspired you to create your very own cooking traditions, as you write notes in the margins in anticipation of passing it down to future generations. Like so many things steeped in African American tradition, the love of family comes first in Grandbaby Cakes.

Red Velvet Cake With Blackberry Whipped Cream Frosting Recipe



2 ½ cups sifted all-purpose flour

2 cups granulated sugar

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/3 cups vegetable oil

1 cup buttermilk, room temperature

2 large eggs, room temperature

¼ cup strong coffee, hot

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1 ounce liquid red food coloring


3 cups fresh blackberries

½ cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Pinch salt

¼ teaspoon cornstarch


2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature

¾ cup confectioners’ sugar

1 cup heavy cream, cold

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch salt

1 cup fresh blackberries, for garnish


Preheat your oven to 325°F. Liberally prepare three 9-inch round cake pans with the nonstick method of your choice.

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the flour, granulated sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt and mix on low speed. Slowly add the oil and buttermilk.

Increase the speed to medium-low and add the eggs 1 at a time, combining well after each addition and scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Slowly add the coffee, vanilla extract, vinegar, and food coloring. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix the batter until just combined. Be careful not to overmix.

Evenly pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 20 to 27 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a layer comes out clean. Do not overbake.

Let the layers cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then invert onto wire racks. Let cool to room temperature. Lightly cover the cakes with foil or plastic wrap so they do not dry out.


In a medium saucepan over medium heat, warm the blackberries, granulated sugar, lime juice, and salt. Once the blackberries begin releasing their juices and the liquid begins to boil, after about 8 to 12 minutes, use a pastry cutter or fork to mash ½ of the berries. Leave the rest whole.

Stir in the cornstarch and continue to cook at a boil, allowing the juices to cook down and thicken. The compote is ready when the liquid coats and completely sticks to the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat. Let cool to room temperature.


Clean your stand mixer bowl and whisk attachment. Beat the cream cheese on high speed until it begins to thicken and become fluffy.

Turn your mixer down to low speed and carefully add the confectioners’ sugar. Once the sugar is fully incorporated, turn your mixer speed back up and continue whipping. Add the heavy cream, vanilla extract, and salt. Continue to whip until the frosting is smooth, light, and fluffy. Refrigerate the buttercream for 30 minutes to firm it up.


Once the layers are completely cooled, place 1 layer on a serving plate. Spread just the top with 1/3 of the frosting. Add 1/3 of the compote over the frosting. Using a butter knife or skewer, swirl the compote into the frosting. Add the second layer and spread with another 1/3 of the frosting. Add 1/3 of the compote, swirling the compote into the frosting again. Add the final layer, bottom-side up, and top with the remaining frosting. Add the rest of the compote and repeat the swirling process. Do not frost the side of the cake. Garnish with the whole blackberries. Serve at room temperature. Store in the refrigerator.

Recipe Photos © Jocelyn Delk Adams. Family Photos © Chuck Olu-Alabi.