Making Gingerbread

  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 2 hr 20 min
  • Prep: 1 hr
  • Inactive: 1 hr
  • Cook: 20 min
  • Yield: 24 cookies
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Ingredients

6 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup packed dark brown sugar

4 teaspoons ground ginger

4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves

1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 large eggs

1 cup unsulfured molasses

1/4 cup currants, for decorating

Royal Icing, for decorating, recipe follows

Peppermint pillow candies, for decorating

Royal Icing:

1 (1-pound) box (about 4 cups) confectioners' sugar

 5 tablespoons meringue powder, or 2 large egg whites*

 Scant 1/2 cup water

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Mix in spices and salt, and then eggs and molasses. Add flour mixture, and combine on low speed. Divide dough in thirds, and wrap in plastic. Chill for at least 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with silpats or parchment paper, and set aside. On a lightly floured work surface, roll dough out to 1/8-inch thickness. With cookie cutters, cut into gingerbread boys and girls. Transfer to prepared baking sheets. Using templates, cut out desired decorations and place on cookies. Press currants into dough to create eyes and buttons. Roll a piece of dough into a ball and pass through a clean garlic press to create hair. Attach hair to heads. Bake until crisp but not darkened, about 20 minutes. Let cookies cool on wire racks. Decorate with icing and peppermint pillows, attaching pillows with a dot of Royal Icing. NOTE: When making very large cookies, use 2 spatulas to transfer cutout dough to baking sheets, or roll dough directly onto the baking sheet. Press cutter into the dough; remove the excess before taking away the cutter.

Royal Icing:

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine confectioners' sugar and meringue powder or egg whites. Mixing on low speed, add a scant 1/2 cup water, drop by drop. For a thinner consistency, usually used for flooding, add more water. A thicker consistency is generally used for further embellishing. Mix until icing holds a ribbon-like trail on the surface for 5 seconds when you raise the paddle.