I can still see my three children gathered around the table choosing cookie cutters, cutting out these cookies, and then piling on the decorations. They are all in their 20’s now, and I sometimes wish that they were all still little so we could bake cookies together once again…
This recipe is my mom’s recipe for Old Fashioned Gingerbread Cookies. I do not know where she got it or if she had changed it over the years. I only know that these are the best Gingerbread Cookies I have ever had. Of course, that could have much to do with the fond memories I have of baking these cookies with her and with my own children.
½ cup butter, at room temperature
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup dark molasses
½ cup buttermilk
3 ½ cups unbleached all purpose flour, for high altitude baking see the high altitude variation below*
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger
¼ teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, add molasses, egg, and buttermilk, mix until thoroughly combined. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Stir to combine. In two or three additions, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and thoroughly combine. I do this in a stand mixer; however, if you want a good workout you can use the old wooden spoon method the way my mom did.
Form the dough into a flattened disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2 hours. Remove the dough from the refrigerator, cut in half, and roll each piece of the dough to 1/8” thickness. Cut into shapes using your favorite cookie cutters like gingerbread men, place cookies on a sheet pan about 1 inch apart, sprinkle with colored sugar, diced dried fruit, or whatever you like. Bake for 10 minutes or until the cookies are set and are just beginning to brown on the edges. Makes about 4 dozen cookies depending on the size of your cookie cutters.
Tip: I pose my "Catch Me If You Can" Gingerbread Men by moving his arms and legs to make him run and dance!
Tip: Try not to leave much dough between cookies as the rerolled scraps will make a slightly puffier, tougher cookie.
*High altitude baking: Depending on your altitude, you will need to add more flour to the dough to ensure the correct consistency. The dough should be slightly soft but not moist.
My Variation: I also like to make Gingerbread Ginger Rolls! For these cookies, you will need Ginger Sugar. This is not sold separately so you will need to find Crystallized Ginger in the bulk bins of the natural foods department of your local supermarket. You will need to dig down to the bottom of the bin where the sugar from the pieces of Crystallized Ginger has collected. I usually buy more of the sugar and a few pieces of the crystallized ginger mixed in (the pieces of crystallized ginger are a nice treat in hot tea or a nice spicy, sweet bite to enjoy after a meal). Then roll out the gingerbread dough as you did for the Gingerbread Cookies but into a rectangle; leave a 1/8 of an inch of dough, at one end of the rectangle, sugar free; cover the rest of the dough with the Ginger Sugar. Moisten the reserved end by brushing with a little cold water. Starting from the opposite end of the dough tightly roll up and press to seal the moistened end. Refrigerate until firm about 1 hour. Cut off the ragged edges and then slice roll into ¼” slices. Place on a sheet pan about 1 inch apart and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until set and just starting to brown around the edges. ©2011