What a fun and busy time. I love holidays and all of the celebrations and traditions. Right now, my kitchen is stuffed with the fixings for the Thanksgiving feast and at the same time, I am already baking for Christmas. Am I confused? No, it’s just that I try to pack all of the fun, family and festivities I can into this short holiday time.
Thanksgiving is here. I am so grateful—for the family, friends, food and love that will soon gather at my table. I am grateful to work with Roxanne, my dear friend! I am blessed to work with her! I speak for both of us when I say we are grateful we can share our love of food and family with you! We are thankful we can share our focus on the family dinner table and hope that our recipes and tips make your kitchen time a little easier and tastier. Have a very Happy Thanksgiving!
And, yes, I made my first batch of Christmas cookies this last weekend—gingerbread so I could hang them on a Christmas tree. No matter how crazy the season becomes or what foods or activities get squeezed out due to other, more pressing items on the agenda, some things just have to be included. For me, gingerbread cookies is THE tradition.
My mom never made gingerbread, but we always gathered and decorated sugar cookies and always did that over Thanksgiving weekend when we both had a day off and wanted to avoid the malls. What fun memories and yes, I still love to make those same sugar cookies! But truly for me, the cinnamon and ginger aroma that fills the kitchen and their sweet, spicy taste makes gingerbread captivating and decorating them this weekend seems natural to me.
I love to pipe faces on the gingerbread boys and girls. On some, I glaze to a slick, frosty finish. Sometimes I poke holes through the cookie heads before they bake so I can add a ribbon on the cookie and use them to decorate a tree. (Post a comment and ask, and I will share my tips for making them into ornaments.)
My recipe is milder in flavor than some—for it is not the overpowering spicy taste that is often associated with “store bought” gingerbread cookies. The dough is easy to work with and they freeze beautifully. I wish I could give credit to who might have first developed it. I started using it over 30 years ago and never found a better one.
Last week, Roxanne suggested hosting a fun holiday cookie exchange and just maybe you could include my favorite gingerbread. So cut shapes of boys, girls, snowmen, stars or whatever you like and decorate as you wish. Each one brings me joy and is part of my yearly holiday traditions.
5 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 cup molasses
2 tablespoons cider or white vinegar
In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl of a heavy-duty mixer, beat together shortening and sugar until fluffy. Beat in egg. Beat in molasses and vinegar.
Gradually beat in flour-spice mixture, and blend well.
Cover and refrigerate dough overnight.
Preheat oven to 375° F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
On a lightly floured surface, roll dough until thin, about 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick. Cut into desired shapes. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until set. Remove to wire rack to cool.
Makes about 25 to 30 cookies.
Tip: The flavor of molasses varies with the type. I use mild, unsulphured molasses.