We sat down with our Editor-in-Chief Brian Hart Hoffman to get the inside scoop on his early baking memories, the origin of Bake from Scratch, and his favorite birthday cake. Brian is also president and chief creative officer of our publishing company, Hoffman Media, and the author of The Coupe, which celebrates craft cocktails and vintage collections. Prior to joining the company in 2007, Brian worked in the airline industry, which allowed him to live in six cities throughout the United States and visit all 50 states.
When did you start baking?
Brian Hart Hoffman: I started baking when I was a little boy with my mom. It was mostly cake mixes and cookies from a tube but it was baking in the sense that we got to be in the kitchen together. I fell in love with it.
When did you get into from scratch baking?
BH: One of my earliest memories of baking something from scratch was when I was 9 or 10 years old. I wanted to bake this loaf—an orange-glazed soda cake. As I’m serving it to my mom and her friend, she says, “Brian tell me what you did to make this?” As I was telling her, I suddenly stopped and said, “And do you know how hard it was to measure a teaspoon of coca cola?” I was so young; I had no idea what baking soda was! So my first scratch baking was a total flop, but my mom ate it anyway and acted like she loved it.
Later, when I was in French class in high school, we would have these French Days where you would bring in traditional French fare. So I had this chance to try making a chocolate mousse or other French delicacies. I found every opportunity I could to bake something from another country. But of course, it was important to learn to bake banana bread. Everyone learns with banana bread! I always made time to make something significant to my childhood as well.
When did you decide to come to work at your mom’s company, Hoffman Media?
BH: It was a strange crossroad in my professional life. I was working more in the corporate sphere of Alaska Airlines—so more on the ground than in the air as a flight attendant in those days. I realized how much I enjoyed taking on responsibilities. My mom had grown her business to the point where she needed more help. She could hire outside people, but she wanted to keep it in the family. I was at the point of maturity where I realized what my mom had built was a legacy worth being apart of. We knew we wanted Hoffman Media to be a multi-generational family company and hopefully we will have that again with my brother’s children.
When did you start thinking about creating a baking magazine for Hoffman Media?
BH: It was a realization of my own passion for baking around the same time that baking blogs were becoming very popular, baking Instagram accounts were becoming very popular. Bakeries and cafes had been on the rise. I felt like the baking movement was alive again. I always loved producing the baking compilations for our other brands like Taste of the South or Cooking with Paula Deen. And they were all so successful! Consumers were responding to baking content.