3 cups (390 grams) all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated white sugar
1 large egg
2/3 cup (160 ml) unsulphured molasses (To prevent the molasses from sticking to the measuring cup, first spray the cup with a non stick vegetable spray.)
Royal Icing Using Egg Whites:
2 large egg whites
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3 cups (330 grams) confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted
Royal Icing Using Meringue Powder:
4 cups (440 grams) confectioners' (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted
3 tablespoons (30 grams) meringue powder
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
1/2 cup - 3/4 cup (120 - 180 ml) warm water
Food Coloring (I use Gel Pastes that can be found at cake decorating and party stores or else on-line)
Gingerbread Cookies: In a large bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and spices.
In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and molasses and beat until well combined. Gradually add the flour mixture beating until incorporated.
Divide the dough in half, and wrap each half in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside while you roll out the dough.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a thickness of about 1/4 inch. Use a floured cookie cutter to cut out the cookies. With an offset spatula lift the cut out cookies onto the baking sheet, placing the cookies about 1 inch (2.54 cm) apart.
Bake for about 8 - 12 minutes depending on the size of the cookies. Small ones will take about 8 minutes, larger cookies will take about 12 minutes. They are done when they are firm and the edges are just beginning to brown.
Remove the cookies from the oven and cool on the baking sheet for about 1 minutes. When they are firm enough to move, transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes about 3 dozen cookies depending on the size of cookie cutter used.
For Royal Icing with Egg Whites: In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the egg whites with the lemon juice. Add the sifted powdered sugar and beat on low speed until combined and smooth. Tint portions of frosting with desired food color.. The icing needs to be used immediately or transferred to an airtight container as royal icing hardens when exposed to air. Cover with plastic wrap when not in use.
For Royal Icing with Meringue Powder: In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the confectioners' sugar and meringue powder until combined. Add the water and beat on medium to high speed until very glossy and stiff peaks form (5 to 7 minutes). If necessary, to get the right consistency, add more powdered sugar or water. To cover or 'flood' the entire surface of the cookie with icing, the proper consistency is when you lift the beater, the ribbon of icing that falls back into the bowl remains on the surface of the icing for a few seconds before disappearing. Tint portions of frosting with desired food color.
The icing needs to be used immediately or transferred to an airtight container as royal icing hardens when exposed to air. Cover with plastic wrap when not in use.
Makes about 3 cups
Gingerbread Cookies are wonderfully fragrant with the flavors of molasses, ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. They make perfect cut-out cookies as they keep their shape when baked. For Fall, I like to make pumpkin shaped cookies and frost them with a bright orange royal icing. If you like your Gingerbread Cookies on the soft side bake them a little less than the recipe states. The longer they bake the harder they will become.
Royal icing is a mixture of powdered (icing or confectioners) sugar, lemon juice, and raw egg whites but due to the risk of salmonella when using raw egg whites, I have also included a recipe using meringue powder. Now, meringue powder is a fine, white powder used to replace fresh egg whites and is made from dried egg whites, sugar, salt, vanillin and gum. When beaten with water and confectioners sugar it has the same consistency as icing made with fresh egg whites. However, I do find that royal icing made with meringue powder does not taste as good as icing made with egg whites, so I suggest adding about 1/2 teaspoon of extract (vanilla, almond or lemon) when making the icing. It is important when working with royal icing to keep it covered as much as possible as it dries out very quickly. After you have frosted the cookies place them on a wire rack to dry which does take several hours, or even overnight.
In England and North America, we usually make our gingerbread with treacle or molasses. Ground ginger and cinnamon are almost always present, with ground cloves placing a distant third, if used at all. There are two types of molasses generally used in making gingerbread: light and dark. Light molasses, used in this recipe, comes from the first boiling of the sugar syrup and is lighter in flavor and color than the dark molasses. Dark molasses comes from the second boiling and is darker in color with a more robust flavor. Molasses is usually labeled as "sulphured" or "unsulphured" depending on whether sulphur was used in the processing. The unsulphured molasses is lighter in color and tends to have a nicer flavor. Molasses is used in baked goods to add color, moistness and flavor.