“I tried to make bread with no butter, egg and milk for myself, since I still wanted to enjoy eating bread despite my skin trouble,” Hwang Hee-da (’13, Law) said. “I never thought of making bread as my career; I was only engrossed in making edible delicious bread.”
Known as the “Bread Buddy” or “Bbangbud” in Korean among Ewha students, Hwang is famous for baking her own breads, such as the soft whole-wheat bread, dark multigrain whole-wheat bread and muesli rye bread. Hwang’s special recipes have been developed by countless trials and errors since 2011. Armed only with enthusiasm, Hwang blindly tried over and over to make her bread without using the traditionally essential ingredients needed in bread making.
“My first recipes were full of mistakes,” Hwang said.
She says that even her mother said that the bread tasted awful. Moreover, Hwang’s lack of professional knowledge in baking led to absurd incidents that she can now look back with laughter.
“I once had to throw away an entire dough-kneader with the dough entangled in the irons after breaking it,” Hwang said. “Then the dough rose and burst out of the garbage bag, which led me to bake it in the oven before throwing it out. Nevertheless, it popped out again.”
Hwang’s curiosity finally came to fruition after a year of studying baking by herself. Originally, she had not considered selling her breads until she made a posting on Ewha’s online community.
“One day, I suddenly became skeptical about everything while writing a resume for employment,” Hwang said. “It seemed like my current situation was not like the life that I had dreamed of. To relieve my stress, I posted photos of my breads, which were my true interest.”
Her posting received immediate response. Ewha students wrote comments recommending sales of her bread, along with huge interest in her homemade recipes. With such support and encouragement, Hwang set up her first and second offline stand in November and December 2012, respectively. As the sales outcomes were better than she had expected, she decided to open her own shop. After searching for a commercial kitchen where she could borrow the necessary baking utensils and an oven, Hwang finally started her shop-in-shop bakery at Alice House, near Ewha’s Main Gate.
Unlike many other bakeries, Hwang bakes bread five times a day: at 9 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., and updates the information about the menus with photos in real time.
“The times are adjusted to Ewha students’ timetable in order to provide bread that is fresh from the oven,” Hwang said. “I sometimes bake more often when the breads are sold out in an instant.”
In addition to the whole-wheat breads that are made from her own recipes, Hwang bakes walnut tarts, Oreo cream mousse cake and the bread of the day, which differs every day. Pasta salad, olive onion focaccia, almond butter and plum jams are special menus that Hwang produces and she is now working on developing new recipes such as ciabatta and cranberry rye breads.
As the popularity of Hwang’s creation increases, the tasks she has to manage also multiply, busying her to exhaustion. However, she says that the encouragement she receives from Ewha students is a great help and a motivator. Also, her parents who initially showed negative opinions are now Hwang’s biggest supporters.
Hwang’s plan for the near future is to keep running her shop for a while. She is also calculating her monthly sale to buy the same amount of umbrellas, raincoats and cool packs as the breads sold. These will be handed out to help the Big Issue vendor in front of the Main Gate to provide the same kind of courage and heartwarming compassion she has received from others. Hwang’s ultimate dream is to become a person who can bake or cook especially for people with limitations or allergies to certain foods, just like her.
“Thanks to Ewha students, I was able to get the chance to find what I really wanted to do,” Hwang said. “Therefore, I hope other students can also grasp the opportunity to think about their own true dreams, not ones that are made by other people.”
For further information on Hwang’s bread or recipes, visit her blog (http://breadbut.egloos.com/) or Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/bbangbud/).