baking gingerbread

It’s tradition in my house to bake gingerbread every Christmas season, so my house has been full with the scent of nutmeg, molasses, and ginger. I don’t bake just gingerbread cookies either; the first thing I start with is Gingerbread Cake. Only then do  I move onto cookie decorating.

If you’re getting ready to bake gingerbread you’ll need a few supplies. Check out my post on everything you need for stress free holiday baking, pop over to bakeware, and you’ll be ready to bake. When you are, here are the three gingerbread recipes I use every year. If you only have time to try one, be sure to make the Big Soft Gingerbread Cookies. You won’t regret it.

 

Gingerbread recipegingerbread cake

When you bake gingerbread cake, you’ll be blown away by how moist, delicious, and perfect it is with just a pop of whip cream. You can also add a touch of buttercream icing to it, and it’s great on its own too. Photo and recipe from allrecipes.com.

Ingredients
    1/2 cup white sugar
    1/2 cup butter
    1 egg
    1 cup molasses
    2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1 teaspoon ground ginger
    1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 cup hot water

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9-inch square pan.
In a large bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the egg, and mix in the molasses.
In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Blend into the creamed mixture. Stir in the hot water. Pour into the prepared pan.
Bake 1 hour in the preheated oven, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan before serving.

 

Big soft gingerbread cookiesbig soft gingerbread cookies

These are absolutely the best addition to a cup of hot chocolate you can ever find, they freeze well, and they’re a great addition to Santa’s plate of cookies. Photo and recipe from allrecipes.com.

Ingredients

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup margarine, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons white sugar

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Sift together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, then stir in the water and molasses. Gradually stir the sifted ingredients into the molasses mixture. Shape dough into walnut sized balls, and roll them in the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Place the cookies 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet, and flatten slightly.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Gingerbread mengingerbread men

Roll out cookie dough requires a bit more effort than other types of cookie dough. You have to chill the dough before you roll it so it stays together better, and if you’re planning on decorating the gingerbread men you’ll have to have an assortment of sprinkles and icing on hand. Decorating these guys is one of my favourite parts of the holiday season. Photo and recipe from foodnetwork.com.

Ingredients
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly milled black pepper
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup vegetable shortening, at room temperature
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2/3 cup molasses (not blackstrap)
1 large egg
Royal Icing (recipe follows)
ROYAL ICING
1 pound (4 1/2 cups) confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons dried egg-white powder
6 tablespoons water

Directions
Position the racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.

Sift the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves, salt and pepper through a wire sieve into a medium bowl. Set aside.

In a large bowl, using a hand-held electric mixer at high speed, beat the butter and vegetable shortening until well-combined, about 1 minute. Add the brown sugar and beat until the mixture is light in texture and color, about 2 minutes. Beat in the molasses and egg. Using a wooden spoon, gradually mix in the flour mixture to make a stiff dough. Divide the dough into two thick disks and wrap each disk in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until chilled, about 3 hours. (The dough can be prepared up to 2 days ahead.)

To roll out the cookies, work with one disk at a time, keeping the other disk refrigerated. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature until just warm enough to roll out without cracking, about 10 minutes. (If the dough has been chilled for longer than 3 hours, it may need a few more minutes.) Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and sprinkle the top of the dough with flour. Roll out the dough 1/8 inch thick, being sure that the dough isn’t sticking to the work surface (run a long meal spatula or knife under the dough occasionally just to be sure, and dust the surface with more flour, if needed). For softer cookies, roll out slightly thicker. Using cookie cutters, cut out the cookies and transfer to nonstick cookie sheets, placing the cookies 1 inch apart. Gently knead the scraps together and form into another disk. Wrap and chill for 5 minutes before rolling out again to cut out more cookies.

Bake, switching the positions of the cookies from top to bottom and back to front halfway through baking, until the edges of the cookies are set and crisp, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on the sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to wire cake racks to cool completely. Decorate with Royal Icing. (The cookies can be prepared up to 1 week ahead, stored in airtight containers at room temperature.)

Bake gingerbread, then decorate with royal icing

gingerbread-cookie-recipes

Make ahead: The icing can prepared up to 2 days ahead, stored in an airtight container with a moist paper towel pressed directly on the icing surface, and refrigerated.

This icing hardens into shiny white lines, and is used for piping decorations on gingerbread people or other cookies.

When using a pastry bag, practice your decorating skills before you ice the cookies. Just do a few trial runs to get the feel of the icing and the bag, piping the icing onto aluminum foil or wax paper. If you work quickly, you can use a metal spatula to scrape the test icing back into the batch.

Grab your supplies and these three recipes. They are all you’ll need to bake gingerbread. If you need a few ideas for kitchen tools and small appliances to help you bake, here are a few you might like.

 

 christmas cookie cutters

 

It’s easy to make all sorts of Christmas cut outs with holiday bakeware

 kitchenaid metallic series

 

I can’t imagine baking without my trusty KitchenAid stand mixer. 

 mixing bowlsMixing bowls are handy to have around for mixing icing during the holidays

 

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