The smell of gingerbread is one of my absolute favorites because it just smells like Christmas! Making gingerbread is a pretty time consuming process, but the end result is so worth it that I think we should have gingerbread year round.
The recipe I used comes from the "St. Luke's Lutheran Church Recipes" from Buffalo, Wyoming. 1975.
Ingredients for the cookies:
1 1/2 c. butter
2 c. sugar
4 c. flour
1/2 c. molasses
2 tsp. ginger
1. tsp. cloves
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
Ingredients for the Frosting:
3 3/4 c. confectioner's sugar
1 stick of butter softened, but not completely melted
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3-4 tablespoons milk
- In the largest bowl you own, cream the sugar and butter. Then add eggs and molasses. Before I measured out my molasses, I sprayed the measuring cup with cooking spray to make the molasses pour out easily. Finally add your spices.
- In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt.
- Incorporate the flour into the butter/sugar mixture. As usual I did this one third at a time.
- Once the dough is formed, I covered the bowl and set it in the refrigerator until I was ready to make the cookies. Yesterday, I had a ton of errands to run in the afternoon, so I made the dough around 11:30 am and didn't make the cookies until around 5:30. When I tried to get the dough out of the bowl it was rock hard! So I ended up letting it sit out on the counter for about 20 minutes before I could remove it from the bowl.
- I am learning that in making every different type of cookie there is a "fun part". For the gingerbread there were a couple parts that just made me incredibly happy. The first was rolling out the dough and using my new cookie cutters. The second part was learning how to use a piping bag to decorate the cookies. Back to the instructions: Roll out the gingerbread. I divided the dough into quarters to make it easier to roll. Make sure that you have lots of extra flour to coat the counter top, and the rolling pin. I like my gingerbread a little more crunchy so I rolled the dough to about 1/4 inch thickness. You can make these cookies as thin or thick as you'd like.
- Bake the cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet for 6-10 minutes at 350 degrees. The time baking will depend on cookie size and your oven. I settled for a nice 7 minutes and then let the cookies sit on the cookie sheet for an additional 2 minutes before transferring them to the wire rack. This recipe makes a lot of cookies. Be prepared to share.
- In a medium bowl add your butter. This will only work if the butter if soft or very close to room temperature, believe me! If the butter is too cold the frosting will come out lumpy and basically taste like lumps of butter covered in powdered sugar. I know this from experience. Mix the butter with your mixer until it is smooth.
- Add in vanilla.
- Add confectioner's sugar in stages. I added a cup at a time. If you have a sifter, sifting the sugar before hand is a good idea. Of course I don't have a sifter, so I just used the highest setting on my mixer to get to desired smoothness.
- Add milk until you get the desired thickness for your frosting.
Once you're cookies are cooled and your frosting is done it is time to decorate!!!
Christmas Trees and Stockings
A Gingerbread couple: a festive bow tie on him and a "Michelle Obama"-belt on her
I had so much fun decorating these cookies! It took a while for me to figure out how to really control the piping bag, but there were so many cookies that I had plenty of practice attempts. Let the cookies sit out for a few minutes to allow the frosting to set. Any leftover frosting can be refrigerated and used for another baking adventure...