A new bakery has debuted in The Heights just in time for the holiday cookie season. The Bearded Baker (518 W. 11th St.) held a quiet soft opening over the weekend and will begin normal, to-go sales this Wednesday, November 25.
The Bearded Baker specializes in custom decorated sugar cookies as well as drop cookies in varieties such as brown butter chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin. It will also sell “cakeletts,” 4-inch round cakes in flavors like dark chocolate with peanut butter-Swiss meringue buttercream.
Allan Hursig is the bakery’s founder and the literal bearded baker. After a career in the energy industry ended abruptly, Hursig began making cookies for friends and family. He developed a social media following by making custom decorated cookies for Texas country music bands and an appearance on the 2019 Food Network Christmas Cookie Challenge, where he finished first runner-up.
“I focused on the quality of the designs and also [making cookies that] taste good,” Hursig tells CultureMap. “I never grew up with a sugar cookie that was soft and moist, usually they were dry and crumbly and kind of chalky.”
Hursig credits his cookies’ soft, slightly chewy texture to using good ingredients and precise techniques. Instead of making icing from a mix, he starts with powdered sugar and egg whites. Bearded Baker cookies are also known for their intricate designs, which have made them popular with various corporate clients and showers of all kinds.
“I don’t want to be one of those cookie people that says you can only have three colors for this price,” Hursig says. “I’ll go out on small details and really take the time to make it elevated, even above what their idea was.”
Moving from his home kitchen to a commercial environment will allow Hursig to ramp up production. He says he once spent 20 hours baking 800 cookies, not including the time to decorate them. It will also provide him with better work-life balance.
“The hardest part for me was, when you work from the house, you don’t have any escape,” Hursig explains. “It’s hard to get any relaxation. I’m trying to watch a movie, but there’s 10 dozen cookies that need something done to them.
“Also having employees is going to be amazing.”