This recipe was the one my Grandfather used to make and the one my Mom always makes. Now it's become my gingerbread cookie recipe too. I grew up with gingerbread people and lots of different animal shapes. My tradition, when I bake them, is lots stars and hearts and ruffled circles with other tiny shapes cut out. I bought a set of super tiny cutters this year to have even more fun cutting out fancy shapes from the bigger cookies. There's a spice shop in the Albert Cuyp market that has tons of super fresh spices and other kitchen odds and ends. I found a little tin of 12 tiny cookie cutter shapes for just a few euros. Much fancy cookie fun was subsequently had!
Grandfather's Gingerbread Men
(this is the doubled version, you can safely halve this recipe)
5 1/2 c white flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2-3 tsp ginger
2-3 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/3 c molasses
2/3 c sugar (technically not a "wet" ingredient, but it goes in with them)
1 c butter, melted
2 large eggs
Combine dry ingredients (while melted butter is cooling). Mix wet ingredients thoroughly, including egg at end. Combine all together and mix evenly to moisten.
Gingerbread batter resting
Chill in plastic bag 2 hours or overnight (allow several hours to warm up if in fridge overnight). Roll out and cut. Bake at 375° F for 10-12 minutes (or at 175° C for 8-10 minutes) on a floured (or parchment paper lined) cookie sheet.
That's the basic recipe, but I'll let you in on the tricks I've learned from my Mom over the years.
Gingerbread dough with shapes
- Let the eggs warm up to room temperature by whisking them up in a bowl and leaving to sit out.
- Put the molasses in with the butter and melt slowly in the microwave. The molasses will be much easier to mix this way (but make sure you do it in increments, stirring in between so you don't scorch it). Let it cool a bit before mixing in with the eggs.
- Make sure your flour isn't too densely packed. I estimate that I used about 840-860g. You can try leaving out half a cup until you see if it's coming together. If you add too much flour, it will be annoyingly crumbly and hard to pack into a ball or roll out.
- Possibly the most important trick: don't chill the dough in the fridge unless you're not making the cookies until the next day. If it's too cold when you try to roll it out, it will go all crumbly and hard to work with. I just leave it to rest in a bag on the counter for a few hours.
- Unless you have lots of counter space, only try to roll out half the dough at a time. Put the other half in the bag somewhere cooler since the dough will start to get really warm and too soft to handle once the oven is running.
- These gingerbread cookies have the perfect blend of softness and crispiness. This does mean you shouldn't try to make a gingerbread house with them, which requires a completely crisp cookie.