3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup molasses
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (optional)
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves until well blended.
In a large bowl (KitchenAid is great for this) beat butter, brown sugar, and egg on medium speed until well blended.
Add molasses, vanilla, and lemon zest and continue to mix until well blended.
Gradually stir in dry ingredients until blended and smooth.
Divide dough in half and wrap each half in plastic and let stand at room temperature for at least 2 hours or up to 8 hours.
(Dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, but in this case it should be refrigerated. Return to room temp before using.)
Preheat oven to 375°.
Grease or line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Place 1 portion of the dough on a lightly floured surface.
Sprinkle flour over dough and rolling pin.
Roll dough to a scant 1/4-inch thick.
Use additional flour to avoid sticking.
Cut out cookies with desired cutter-- the ginger bread man is our favorite of course.
Space cookies 1 1/2-inches apart.
Bake 1 sheet at a time for 7-10 minutes (the lower time will give you softer cookies-- very good!).
Remove cookie sheet from oven and allow the cookies to stand until the cookies are firm enough to move to a wire rack.
After cookies are cool you may decorate them any way you like. I usually brush them with a powdered sugar glaze when I am in a hurry, but they look wonderful decorated with Royal icing.
Makes 5-inch-tall cookies.
Prep time: 2 1/4 hours.
Total time: 2 1/2 hours.