There are days when whatever farmers market-inspired creations certain pastry chefs dream up are what you really crave (fine, every day), but there are still plenty of back-of-the-box banana pudding sort of days in all their diglyceride glory. Pam Wright is the woman to call on when you're need of one of those truly old-fashioned desserts (we're talking the Nilla wafers and vanilla extract recipe, no fancy homemade cookies or imported vanilla bean-infused puddings). “We don't have cutesy cupcakes or any of that,” says Wright, who has been selling home-style desserts for more than thirty years in various retail shop incarnations throughout L.A. These days she's in Leimert Park, where The Cobbler Lady is best known for, well, fruit cobblers.
But look closely at those bakery cases. They're also filled with red velvet cupcakes smeared with your basic cream cheese frosting (cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla), the same frosting that's slathered on top of carrot cake. And slices of sweet potato pie baked up diner-style, meaning simply filling and crust, nothing boastful like organic butter or candied pecans. The sort of desserts your grandmother really did make.
Typically you'll also find slices of 7-Up cake, that same Better Homes era white cake lightened with soda and glazed in powdered sugar icing (only here, not a pound cake but a slice from a round sheet cake or in cupcake form).
The banana pudding was the most recent addition, says Wright, and not because her grandmother is from the South (she is; North Carolina) and Wright just had to carry on the family's 7-Up cake dreams. Wright, who grew up in L.A., never dreamed of putting soda into a cake (added in theory to lighten the cake batter) until a cobbler regular asked for it. “When a customer asks me for something, I'll try to make it,” she says. “You see, for most people, it's really about nostalgia, about bringing back memories.”
Nostalgia in the form of a $2.50 per slice piece of sweet potato pie that you might have made — and really, really enjoyed — before the days of $12 beignets and Top Chef Just Desserts. Ya, it's probably about time for another slice.
The Cobbler Lady, cakes and pies whole or by the slice (call ahead for whole). 3854 Crenshaw Blvd., Leimart Park, 323-298-2144, www.cobblerlady.com.