I found this recipe in The Joy of Cooking, probably the first cookbook I ever read. It is, hands down, the easiest cookie dough to handle. It doesn’t get sticky or tear easily, and it requires no refrigeration prior to rolling. It’s great for making cut outs with kids or for building an elaborate gingerbread creation.
I prefer to cut out the shapes directly on the cookie sheet. Alternately, you can cut the shapes on parchment paper and slide it onto a cookie sheet to bake. Either of these methods is especially useful if you’re cutting intricate shapes.
Not as sweet as a typical cookie, this gingerbread is a fitting backdrop for the frosting, candies, and dried fruit that’s typically used to decorate gingerbread cookies.
Note: I never found it necessary to grease the cookie sheet after the initial batch. However, you should test your cookie sheet.
If you’re making a gingerbread house, unless it’s very small, you’ll probably need more than one batch.
1/4 c butter
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c dark molasses
3- 1/2 c all purpose flour
1 t baking soda
1/4 t cloves
1/2 t cinnamon
1 t ginger
1/2 t salt
1/3 c water
Cream butter and sugar until creamy and beat in molasses. Sift together the flour, soda, spices, and salt. Add to the butter mixture in about three parts, alternately with the water. This dough is stiff, so you may need to work in the last of the flour with your hands. A heavy duty mixer, like KitchenAid, with a dough hook will work. I’ve also had success using a Cuisinart food processor with a dough blade.
Roll out the dough, cut into shapes, and decorate. Transfer to a greased or parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 350 F for about 8 minutes, depending on thickness.
Cut windows before baking.
Put hard candies* in a ziploc bag, and crush with a rolling pin or mallet.
TIP: If you use an empty breakfast cereal bag, the candies are less likely to poke through.
*Butterscotch candies will give your windows a warm glow, but you can also use colored hard candies for “stained glass.”
After the cookie is baked and cooled, lay it on a foil or parchment lined cookie sheet. Fill window openings with crushed candy. (You may want to try one to get an idea of the right amount). Place in the oven (350 degrees) until melted (about 5 minutes). Wait until completely cool before peeling off the foil/parchment.