Here’s a good sturdy gingerbread that’s excellent for either gingerbread cookies or gingerbread houses. It’s not half bad for eating, either! Yes, it contains vegetable shortening, but that’s a better choice when you’re fashioning a house or making a cookie that’s destined to become a tree ornament. Why? Because shortening won’t go rancid. If you have a problem with eating vegetable shortening, you can make it with butter if you prefer. This recipe makes enough for one large gingerbread house or many, many cookies.
1 lb. 14 ounces (6 cups) all-purpose flour
6.75 ounces (1 cup) vegetable shortening
7 ounces (1 cup) sugar
12 ounces (1 cup) molasses
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Lightly beat the eggs in a small bowl with a fork, then combine all the ingredients together in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle. Mix on medium speed until the dough comes together. It should be uniform and pliable. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate it until you’re ready to use it.
When you’re ready to start baking, preheat your oven to 375 degrees. On a lightly floured surface roll the dough out to about 1/4 inch and cut your shapes as desired, conserving the scraps to re-roll as needed. Should the dough become dry as you work, just moisten your hands under the sink and knead it a bit.
Bake the dough for about 8 minutes for small shapes and up to 15 minutes for large shapes. The gingerbread is done when it starts to darken at the edges. Allow it to cool completely and harden before decorating and/or using it for building.
The dough can be kept in the refrigerator for 3 or four days, or frozen for several months.