Whisk all the dry ingredients together thoroughly and set aside. Beat butter and brown sugar together in the bowl of a mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Add the eggs, molasses, and water and beat until well combined.
Beat half of the flour mixture into the mixer until blended and smooth. Add the remaining flour mixture and then knead the dough until firm and manageable, but not dry. Add more flour if the dough is too wet.
Place the dough in a sealable container or zip-top bag in a cool place for up to 2 hours. If you make the dough ahead of time and refrigerate it, bring to room temperature before working the dough.
When ready to roll out the dough, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray your cookie sheets with nonstick spray.
Cut out desired shapes, working in small batches and keeping the remaining dough in an airtight container so that it does not dry out. Bake for 11 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of the pieces. The gingerbread will be light brown when it is done. Let cool before icing.
Royal icing with fresh egg whites:
Combine egg white and powdered sugar in a microwaveable bowl and microwave until the mixture reaches 160 degrees F. The best way to do this is to microwave the mixture on high power, stopping every 20 seconds to take the temperature; it will take about 2 minutes and 40 seconds, but cook time will vary based on microwaves. Make sure to use clean utensils each time you check the icing. The other option is to microwave the mixture for 45 seconds on high, but the consistency will not be as good.
Beat on high speed until the icing cools and holds a stiff peak, about 2 minutes. If the icing needs to be thicker, add up to 2/3 cup more sugar; you will probably need to add about 1/3 cup more sugar. Food coloring can be added, if desired. Work with the icing in small amounts, keeping the remaining icing in an airtight container, as it will dry quickly. The icing can be re-beaten, if necessary.
Royal icing with powdered egg whites:
Beat all ingredients together in the bowl of a mixer until stiff peaks form. Food coloring can be added, if desired. Work with the icing in small amounts, keeping the remaining icing in an airtight container, as it will dry quickly. The icing can be re-beaten if necessary.
Consumption of raw or undercooked eggs, shellfish and meat may increase the risk of foodborne illness.
A viewer or guest of the show, who may not be a professional cook, provided this recipe. It has not been tested for home use.