This dough is sturdy enough to hold up to the weight of all the candy decorations on a gingerbread house, and it tastes good, too. The recipe makes enough for a 6-by-7-inch house. How you adorn it is up to you!
Make the gingerbread dough: Sift together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg, cloves and salt into a large bowl. Set aside.
Combine the butter, shortening, brown sugar and granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add the egg, molasses and vanilla and beat on medium until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the sifted flour mixture and mix on low speed until combined into a smooth dough, about 1 minute. Form the dough into a flat square, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until just firm, about 2 hours and up to overnight.
Meanwhile, make templates for a gingerbread house. Gather several sheets of stiff paper; a manila folder works well. For the wall panels, cut a rectangle that measures 4 by 7 inches. For the front and back panels of a house with a peaked roof, cut a template that is 6 inches wide at the base, 4 inches to the roofline and 4 1/2 inches slanted to a peak. The template for the roof panels should measure 4 1/2 by 8 inches.
Roll and cut the gingerbread: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. Unwrap the dough and cut into 3 equal pieces (a pizza wheel is handy for this). Working with one piece of dough at a time and keeping the other pieces refrigerated, roll the dough into a rectangle 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. Using the templates, cut out the front and back of the house and remove the scraps around the cutouts. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough, cutting out 2 roof pieces and 2 side pieces. (If the dough gets too soft while rolling, return it to the refrigerator for 15 minutes before proceeding.) Discard the dough scraps or reroll to make cookies. Chill the dough pieces on the baking sheets for 15 minutes.
Bake the gingerbread: Bake the dough pieces until crisp almost all the way through (the very center will still be a little soft), 30 to 35 minutes. Cool the pans 10 minutes on a rack, then remove the house pieces to the rack to cool completely. Assemble and decorate the gingerbread panels as desired.
When measuring flour, we spoon it into a dry measuring cup and level off excess. (Scooping directly from the bag compacts the flour, resulting in dry baked goods.)
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