Hot Take Baking Edition:
GINGERBREAD IS BETTER THAN PUMPKIN SPICE.
Yes, I said it.
The pumpkin spice craze is slightly out of control, because Gingerbread is clearly the superior fall/winter flavor option. Obviously. Here’s why:
- It doesn’t have pumpkin.
- It has the aromatic trifecta of ginger, cloves and cinnamon
- Molasses. Don’t sleep on the molasses.
I am a pumpkin hater. Does anyone actually like pumpkin or do they really just like the spices that we associate with pumpkin? When was the last time you had pumpkin for dinner? Seriously, though if you have pumpkin for dinner, please share the details.
Every Christmas I make a big batch of Gingerbread and realize that it’s an underrated cookie and then I vow to make gingerbread the rest of the year. The reality is that I only make gingerbread around the holidays, probably because it’s tradition and a lot more work than the run of the mill chocolate chip cookies. But can you imagine a nice cup of herbal tea with one of these bad boys in early fall or even late winter? Right?!?! It totally makes sense. So I just set a calendar reminder for May 2019 that says “make gingerbread, already!”
Old church cookbooks are the best. I found this recipe in a laminated spiral-bound Lutheran Church Cookbook from 1975. Sometimes you have to google ingredients that no longer exist (Oleo!), most of the time the instructions aren’t clear, but every entry is sort of like baking/cooking resume. That person was proud to put their name on a particular recipe to share with the community, to raise some money. Can you picture the lady at your church who always made the best poundcake? I definitely can. Those cookbooks are small way that communities celebrated and memorialized culinary achievements.
That said, pretend like it is 1975. This isn’t the time to measure your ingredients on your snazzy kitchen scale because then you will have an insanely wet dough. Make this recipe the old-fashioned way– break out those measuring cups even though you know good and well that for whatever reason they hold more than a cup. (This infuriates me. Why are we labeling things a cup, when clearly they aren’t?!?! I’m getting off my soap box now.)
- You must refrigerate this dough for two reasons: 1) You won’t be able to roll them out if the dough isn’t cold enough and 2) if you don’t chill for long enough your gingerbread men are going to spread and look like gingerbread blobs. I ended up refrigerating the dough overnight, but a couple of hours should be enough. When you are ready to roll out the dough, divide it into four parts and keep the parts you aren’t rolling out in the fridge.
- Don’t be afraid to flour your counter tops, and your rolling pin and your cookie cutters.
- This dough is meant to be crunchy; not chewy, so make sure the edges of the cookies have begun to brown before you take them out of the oven.
Classic Gingerbread Cookies, perfect for your holiday table.
Ingredients for the Cookies
- 4 cups flour
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 1/2 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 2 cups white sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 2 tsp. ground ginger
- tsp. ground cloves
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
Ingredients for the Frosting
- 1 stick unsalted butter (softened)
- 3 3/4 c. confectioner’s sugar
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 3–4 tbs. milk
- In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer or a large bowl, cream the sugar and butter until fluffy about 5 minutes. Add eggs and molasses and incorporate completely. Then add ginger, cloves and cinnamon.
- Incorporate the flour into the butter/sugar mixture, one third at a time, until the dough is formed.
- Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Divide the dough into quarters and roll out on a well floured countertop. Roll the dough to about 1/4 inch thickness.
- Bake the cookies on a cookie sheet for 6-10 minutes. The time baking will depend on cookie size and your oven. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for an additional 2 minutes before transferring them to the wire rack.
For the frosting
- In a medium bowl, mix the room temperature butter with your mixer until it is smooth. Add vanilla, powdered sugar and milk 1 tablespoon at a time until you reach our desired thickness.
- Decorate! Using a piping bag create patterns or designs on the gingerbread cut outs and add M&Ms and sprinkles to finish.
This recipe makes a lot of cookies. Be prepared to share.
Spray a measuring cup with cooking spray before you measure out the molasses so that it pours out easily.