Karl's Quality Bakery vs. Barb's Bakery: Gingerbread Men Go Mano-a-Mano

​Sweet and spicy, crunchy or soft, gingerbread is a holiday harbinger that ushers in the season. Some prefer to mainline their gingerbread in latte form, or snarf a giant stack of gingerbread pancakes from Daily Dose, but we're purists. Give us our gingerbread men straight out of the oven, just like grandma used to bake.
Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Phoenix and help keep the future of New Times free.

Plus, the bitsy little bows and candy buttons, paired with gingerbread perma-smiles are the fastest way to turn your grinch frown upside down. And if the holiday stress is really getting to you, unleash the rage by biting the head off a hapless gingerbread man. Sweet, sweet vengeance. 
We recommend you save the trouble of baking and decorating by leaving it to the pros. But whose gingerbread reigns supreme in the Valley? Is it the pretty-in-pink gingerbread ladies from Karl's Quality Bakery or the bow tie-bedecked gingerbread men from Barb's Bakery?

Run, run as fast as you can to catch these gingerbread men...

In One Corner: Karl's Quality Bakery

8847 N 7th Ave, Phoenix

The Set-Up: Karl's quaint patisserie has everything from maple bars and frosted donuts to petits fours and cookies galore. Included in their impressive list of pastries are several types of gingerbread, including chocolate-dipped, gingerbread folks of all sizes, and tons of holiday offerings to stuff any stocking. We opted for the individually wrapped pretty pink gingerbread maid with golden locks and a couple choco-dipped gingerbread cookies on the side for good measure.

The Pros: Karl's gingerbread lives up to its namesake. The ginger flavor was dominant, and plenty of aromatic winter spices like clove and cinnamon were noticeable after the first spicy bite. An ideal balance between sugar and spice and everything nice.

The Cons: Our poor little gingerbread lass was so hard we needed a side of milk (or maybe an Irish coffee) to dunk before devouring. The icing was also rock hard, crumbling upon impact instead of adding a bit of extra sweetness. Luckily, the choco-dipped gingerbread sticks were much softer, the perfect balance between texture and flavor. Too bad they're not dukin' it out in the ring.

In the Other Corner: Barb's Bakery
2929 N 24th St, Phoenix

The Set-Up: Barb's has some darned fancy desserts on display, ranging from cheesecakes and cannolis to pretty iced Christmas trees and snowmen. (About as close to snow as you're likely to get here in the Valley.) Our red and green gingerbread men were fresh out of the oven looking cute as a button.

The Pros: Our gingerbread man had the perfect texture, soft and easy to nibble. The flavor was heavy on the molasses, smooth but not too sweet. Plus, look at that little gingerbread smile and bow tie. Who doesn't love a dapper gingerbread lad?

The Cons: More molasses than warm ginger spice, Barb's gingerbread men could easily have been mistaken for a straight molasses cookie rather than a spicy gingerbread man. Good thing there was a pretty little bow tie there to let us know the difference.

The Verdict: In Battle Gingerbread, the soft texture, cutesy decorations, and mild ginger spice of Barb's Bakery wins the day. Although the sharp ginger bite and warm winter spice of Karl's gingerbread lass exemplified the holidays, the poor gingerbread lass was much too hard to to nibble sans milk. (Opt for Karl's much softer choco-dipped gingerbread instead, and you've got a gingerbread win-win!)
Follow Chow Bella on Facebook and Twitter.

Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.