This is going to sound strange to you. And it may seem even more strange that I actually took pictures of it. But if you live in a country where baking is rare and you're from a country where baking is the norm, you run into problems. One of the other teachers in the middle school just recently started a new baking hobby (I blame this, too, on Pinterest!), and she's been feeling like she's missing some major baking necessities. So, when she heard about "Baking Alley", she did some research and we decided we would set out to find it on Saturday morning. And find it, we did. It was amazing...keep in mind that it took me weeks to find baking powder and baking soda. I had never seen liquid vanilla extract or a 9x13 baking dish. By the time I'd found measuring cups and measuring spoons you had already sent them to me (thanks again!). So, I know that this sounds weird to you. You can drive down to Target and have all of these things in your cart for in less than 30 minutes for less than 30 dollars. I remember that. But we have been in Seoul for 4 months now, and I had never seen many of these things.
This was the street we found in Dongdaemun that held all of these amazing baking tools and ingredients. There were mixers, waffle makers (that I did not spring for...I'm pretty sure they would have been near $100), more cookie cutters that I'd ever seen, parchment paper, cookie sheets, and measuring cups. We went into one store that actually had glass Pyrex measuring cups and baking dishes (this was absolutely astonishing!), a stand up cheese grater (which I did spring for), thermometers (which I also went for), cake carriers...the list goes on. The big stores even sell convection ovens because most Korean homes do not have an oven in them. That is how rarely Koreans bake!
This store had nearly any baking ingredient you could think of...sprinkles, chocolate chips, food coloring, yeast, spices, flavorings, vanilla beans and extracts, jams, pie fillings (except for pumpkin but they did have "pumpkin paste"--it sounded really liquidy and I wasn't willing to spend $5 on it if I wasn't sure how it would work). I did take a picture of this one because it was pretty and organized. Most of them were not!
There were even numerous stores where you could buy things to store and wrap your baked goods in. One store after another after another after another of baking, wrapping, and storing supplies that you cannot find anywhere else in Seoul! I was even able to find some little bottles to put my vanilla into, so that I could finally take a picture of it for you. It still has a few weeks to sit and steep, but it smells good already!
I no longer have any excuses for not baking, I guess. I'll just have to start a list now of what I'm going to make and what I need for it because the 45 minute subway trip (each direction) does not make it easy to go every time I need something. It was a 5 hour expedition for us!
If you are looking for directions to Baking Alley or want more information about the products and stores, check here.