Brian Hart Hoffman’s Top Kitchen Picks

For the first round of our new Baker’s Picks column, we asked editor-in-chief Brian Hart Hoffman to share the top tools and must-have ingredients he’s baking with in 2019!

Heilala Vanilla Pure Vanilla Bean

“I’m a huge fan of sprinkling turbinado sugar on a warm pound cake to give it texture or rolling cookies in it for extra crunch. Heilala’s Pure Vanilla Bean Sugar expands that concept to the nth power. This New Zealand-based company makes the sugar by mixing their own Tonga-grown vanilla beans and vanilla extract with golden sugar, a buttery sugar made from fresh-squeezed sugarcane juice. The hint of vanilla takes everything I put this sugar on to a euphoric level.”

Heilala Vanilla is offering our readers an exclusive discount on your vanilla purchase in their Amazon store! Simply apply the code BAKEFS07 at checkout to get 20% off. Code valid until July 31, 2019.

Contra Chef Apronby Tilit in Navy Wax

“These aprons are used by pastry chefs and bakers around the world, and for good reason. The apron is made of waxed cotton, so it’s extremely durable but still lightweight and thin. Plus, I love how the pockets are sewn into the apron rather than sewn onto the outside. Not having bulky pockets makes the design extremely functional  and also looks sleek.”


“I love that these jars transition seamlessly from wet to dry ingredients. For storing wet ingredients, the glass lids with the metal clips ensure perfect preservation. For dry ingredients, I swap out the glass lids for the wooden ones. They’re easier to open and are a stylish addition to my pantry.” 

Antique Copper Pans | Check your local antiques stores,, or

“Everyone should have a collection of things they love in their baking pantry. Not everything has to be brand-new from the store; otherwise personal expression gets lost. I fell in love with antique copper on my first trip to France, when I was 17 years old. I’ve been building up my collection over the years through brocantes [flea markets] and refinishers. I love the look of copper on my exposed kitchen shelves, and these pans make for the perfect Instagram photo. Copper is
also an excellent heat conductor, so everything baked in it turns
out amazing.”

Williams Sonoma Goldtouch Sheet

“Anytime I need a sheet pan, I always reach for my Goldtouch pans. The ceramic finish ensures that heat is distributed evenly, and your baked goods release easily from the pan. I’ve never had anything burn or stick on these, and they don’t warp during baking.”


“These are the only spatulas I reach for in the kitchen. I have all four sizes and use them for everything. The silicone makes them sturdy enough for doughs that require a bit of extra muscle to mix, but they’re also lightweight and flexible enough to get all of the batter out of a bowl.”

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  1. I”m wondering how I can ask a question about a recipe in your magazine. In your Sept/Oct issue is a recipe for Pumpkin Spice Cake which calls for one cup of walnuts baked into the cake. We don’t use nuts in my house due to a life threatening allergy…so if I omit them, what happens to the baking times and the cake overall? Thanks, Pamela

    • Hey Pamela,

      Taking out the nuts should not hurt the overall cake, just know that your layers will cook faster (maybe check your cake layers 5 to 10 minutes earlier) and will produce slightly thinner, flatter cake layers. Otherwise, it should come out beautifully!


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