Family recipes pack a certain transportive power — when you bite into that same cookie that grandma used to make, you’re suddenly a kid again standing in the middle of her kitchen. The aromas and tastes are directly tied to the memory centers of our brains, and one bite can unlock a lost world of familiarity. But what if we could take those recipes a step further, to find ourselves standing in the middle of our great great grandmother’s kitchens? That’s just what Jennifer Cumberbatch did with her company, Cumberbatch’s Sweet Tater Torte. The Austinite and longtime baker reinvented her Great Aunt’s recipe for sweet potato soufflé in a way that honors her ancestors’ journey from Africa to the American South. “The American sweet potato (with black eyed peas) comprised a large portion of slaves’ rations for sustenance and have continued to serve as a conduit to nutrition, delight and fellowship,” explains Jennifer. Turns out the tortes she’s been baking for years are one of the best ways to share that history with friends and younger family members. “Perhaps it’s that cultural practice of celebrating the small things — adapting something ordinary into something extraordinary and investing in relationships — that resonates with me and has inspired my culinary and customary traditions. I love extending good food as an offering to those in my circle of influence.” Read on to discover how Jennifer used her heritage to inspire a unique recipe and found her own thriving small business.
photographed by hakeem adewumi