Updated: Dec 23, 2020
Gingerbread baking is as seasonal as wrapping gifts and singing carols!
The following is a multi-purpose recipe for rolled cookie dough from which shapes are cut. Molasses and dark brown sugar give the dough an intensely dark color and rich flavor. The spices are basic: ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. The result is a crispy “snap” that is sweet with a medium spice. Other spices certainly could be added within the framework of this recipe, such as cardamom, allspice, nutmeg, or mace. The gingerbread cookies stay crisp for weeks if rolled thin and stored properly in an airtight container. Once frosted, however, these cookies soften and become chewy within a few days.
Equipment: large mixing bowl; dry and wet measuring cups; measuring spoons; cutting board; paring or chef’s knife; whisk; rubber spatula; wooden spoon; hand or standing mixer (optional); saucepan; rolling pin; cookie cutters; rimmed sheet pans; parchment paper or silicone baking liners; cooling rack; offset spatula
Gingerbread Ingredients: 2¼ cups all purpose flour, divided
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup brown sugar
¾ cup (1½ sticks) butter
¼ cup molasses
1 large egg
Royal Icing Ingredients:
2 cups powdered sugar
1 egg white
1. Combine the first five ingredients, but just half the flour, in a mixing bowl. Then whisk in the brown sugar.
2. In a small saucepan, melt the butter and whisk it into the flour mixture along with the molasses and egg. With a wooden spoon, stir in the remaining flour.
3. Form the dough into four small balls and wrap each one in plastic. Chill the dough until firm, for one hour up to two days.
4. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking liners or parchment paper, and preheat the oven to 350°F.
5. Roll one ball of dough with a rolling pin on a floured surface to 1/8-inch thickness for crisp cookies, or to ¼-inch thickness for soft cookies. Use cookie cutters to create fun holiday shapes, and place the cookies two inches apart on the lined sheet.
5. Place the sheet on the middle oven rack and bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool on a cooling rack before decorating. Once completely cool, the cookies may be iced/frosted.
ILOC tip: if you like gingerbread cookies to be crisp once decorated, use royal icing. If you like decorated gingerbread cookies to be soft, frost them with buttercream (within 2-3 days of being frosted they will become soft).
6. To make the royal icing, beat the egg white until frothy in large mixing bowl or the bowl of standing mixer. Add the powdered sugar gradually and mix on low speed until the sugar is incorporated and the mixture is shiny. Increase the speed to high and beat until mixture forms stiff, glossy peaks, approximately 5-7 minutes. Add food coloring, if desired.
7. Transfer the icing to a pastry bag fitted with a tip or a resealable plastic bag (then cut the corner of the bag before piping). Decorate as desired.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
Makes 6-8 dozen cookies. depending on cookie cutter size.