Hot cross buns and ginger cake at Scoff

Hot cross buns and ginger cake at Scoff

At Scoff, a tiny bakery located in Seoul’s Buam-dong, one will find classic British baked goods like hot cross and Chelsea buns, spread out in trays and cutting boards for hungry passersby to snatch up by the plateful.

No skimping is allowed at this sleeper hit of a bakeshop. Buns are almost a handspan wide and cakes are cut into slabs over an inch thick in girth.

The substantial sizing of Scoff’s treats does not translate to hefty prices. The most expensive baked good on the menu is a wallet-friendly 5,000 won ($4.40).

Scoff (Lee Sang-sub/The Korea Herald)

The baker behind all this generous goodness is Jonathan Townsend, a British native who built up his career as a chef first, working at hotels and restaurants in the U.K., and then in Korea.

Townsend revealed that while working as a chef, he always harbored a penchant for baking, taking the time at home, whenever he could, to bake doughy treats.

It was not until more recently that he was able to turn his fondness for baking into a successful business with Scoff, which Townsend said he and his wife Kim Hyun-kyung “opened just over one year ago.”

To be more accurate, however, Scoff existed before it became a brick-and-mortar spot.

“Scoff started as a market store,” Townsend, 31, said, explaining how he and Kim started their business by selling baked goods at flea markets.

Kim, 32, added that she and Townsend started going to markets “last, last summer.”

People liked what Scoff was doing, apparently, because Townsend and Kim were able to launch their off-line spot without having to build a customer base from the ground-up. As Townsend attests, “When we first opened, we had already become quite popular through flea markets.”

“I think we’ve been very lucky here,” he added. “As soon as we opened we gained momentum very quickly.”

Scoff’s hot cross buns are infused with cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice and are studded with cranberries instead of the more usual currants or raisins. (Lee Sang-sub/The Korea Herald)

Perhaps it is because of its market roots, but Scoff reads like a stall-shop hybrid. There are no seats inside the small space, which is situated on a hill in Buam-dong.

Plates are set up on a rack with tongs for customers to use to pick from a changing array of seasonally sensitive sweets that include toothsome treats like their hot cross buns, ginger cake and Chelsea buns.

A traditional British treat, the hot cross buns at Scoff feature cranberries instead of the more usual currants or raisins. Orange zest, orange glaze, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice infuse the soft slabs of bread with a warm and fresh fragrance.

Townsend attributes the height and fluff of his hot cross buns to how he proofs his dough.

“I prefer a long, cold rise,” he said.

Chelsea buns, which Townsend describes as similar to cinnamon buns but punctuated by lemon zest, are a citrusy, sweet treat, further amped up, Townsend revealed, by a lemon sugar topping.

Scoff’s sausage rolls are filled with pork that co-owner and baker Jonathan Townsend prepares in-house with mustard, balsamic onions, sage, rosemay and garlic. (Lee Sang-sub/The Korea Herald)

Ginger cake at Scoff is incredibly moist, partly because Townsend uses “an awful lot of golden syrup.”

Townsend, who describes golden syrup as being somewhat similar to molasses, makes his in-house to create his super soft cake, which derives its warm spiced flavor from fresh ginger and “a little bit of cinnamon.”

With winter around the corner, Townsend plans to add ginger snaps to the menu along with Cornish pasties.

As for the name of the bakeshop, Townsend explained, “‘Scoff’ is British slang for eating quickly and greedily,” like the word “scarf,” he added.

278-5, Buam-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul
(070) 8801-1739
Open 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. daily, closed Mondays
Breads, cakes and treats are priced from 2,000 won to 5,000 won


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