First published in the Sept. 10 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.
When Elizabeth Walker inhales the warm sweetness of a freshly baked peach cobbler, her unborn baby stirs. When she turns on the mixer, the baby’s legs get moving.
“She starts kicking like she’s interested already,” Walker said. “So, we’ll see. Maybe she’ll be a little baker.”
Since Walker often bakes peach cobblers, the baby is very active. Walker plans to slow down for a few months after the birth of her daughter in October, but after that, the baked good that has consumed her life will be a part of the child’s, too.
The home-based Ely’s Cobblers has taken off. Walker’s cobblers have been in demand across South Pasadena in all flavors — peach, peach mango, blackberry, strawberry and more. The peach version is the most popular, with the caramelized, cinnamon peaches nestled into moist breading.
There are also vegan options for all flavors. They have earned her a mention in VegOut magazine, a publication that seeks out the best vegan food around the country.
“I brought home a full-size cobbler about a week ago and it only lasted a day and half in my house,” said Miranda Soto, a Monrovia resident. “We dug in immediately and ate half of it, and then by the next day, it was gone.”
Roughly eight years ago, Walker’s ex-boyfriend’s mom taught her how to make cobblers.
She began to add her personal touches to the recipe — all while making sure to keep everything handmade.
“I don’t even follow the recipe, to be honest,” Walker said. “I can’t teach anyone, because I kind of just do it. I just kind of just go with it. You know, like, add sugar, add cinnamon, whatever I need.”
Walker was baking cobblers for family events and holidays, but at the time she was working full time as an ultrasound technician in Tucson, Arizona. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, she returned to South Pasadena, where she grew up, to be closer to family.
She resumed work as an ultrasound technician in Southern California, then got engaged, married and pregnant, and decided to pause work in order to dedicate time to her growing family.
It gave her the opportunity to plan a business model for her cobblers, which she had started baking again when she moved back to South Pasadena as a means of relaxation. Soon, she was baking up to 18 cobblers a day by herself with one oven. And hand-delivering them, too.
Through it all, she’s kept her habits of using fresh ingredients and making everything from scratch on the day of delivery.
“Sometimes I wake up in the morning, like, wow, that smells really good. It’s a busy kitchen,” said Jose Quintero, Walker’s husband. “One thing I do sense is when she makes her cobblers, she never rushes her cobblers. Especially if she has a lot of customers that day, she makes them that day.”
Quintero helps Walker stock up on ingredients for the cobblers, often clearing out a grocery’s produce section of its peaches. Throughout Walker’s pregnancy, he’s been helping a little extra when it comes to cleaning up the kitchen or fetching ingredients.
“I’m kind of the Instacart of her business,” Quintero said.
Walker takes orders via email and Facebook, but she says that Instagram is the most efficient method. She posts a menu with available flavors and sizes, and customers send her a quick message saying what they’d like.
The cobblers are prepared on the scheduled delivery date, and Walker brings them to the customer.
“She is the one that does the handoffs herself. She’ll bring them to you and she’ll transfer the cobblers from her arms to your arms,” Soto said. “She’s so kind and sweet. She’s not standoffish in any way. It is almost as if you do hang out with her when you see her to pick up the cobblers.”
After her daughter is born, Walker would like to rent a kitchen to increase cobbler production and bring the baked goods to area farmers markets or local businesses.
Of course, her daughter will be in tow. Quintero is already picking out matching peach outfits and peach berets for the two of them to wear.
“I’m like, I’m not gonna wear that. It literally is a peach,” Walker said, laughing. “I just want to bring her along with the journey. I want to include her. I want her to be there. And if it gets big, I can just pass it on for the long term.”
Her daughter is already there, kicking in tandem with the aroma of peaches.