real life test kitchen: gingerbread men


I have yet to find any time for holiday baking, but our friend Elizabeth and her daughter Sophie dropped by some yummy and extremely cute gingerbread men the other day. Naturally I coaxed her to share her recipe with us! Here’s her take:

I made it from scratch from a recipe in my favorite baking cookbook: the King Arthur Flour’s Baking Companion. This is the first time I’ve made them. Sophie was sick on Monday and couldn’t go to school, but I didn’t want her to miss out on making gingerbread men (which her classmates did that day). So, I turned to my trusty cookbook, and we baked. Sophie loved spreading the flour, rolling the dough, cutting the cookie shapes, and making the eyes and buttons with red-hots. As for tips, I prepared the dough Sunday night and let it sit in the fridge overnight. The recipe gives a range for the baking time — I found it really hard to judge when they were done since the dough is so dark. I baked them on the shorter side, and they were pretty soft. If you prefer crisper cookies, just bake them a bit longer if your first dozen are too soft for your taste.

Hopefully I’ll find some time for baking this weekend, when I’ll be pulling out a few of my old favorites as well. What about you, have you baked any holiday cookies yet? Please tell us! — Angela M.

Click through to the next page for the recipe.

Gingerbread Roll-Out Cookies From the King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion


1C butter
1 C packed brown sugar
1 ½ t salt
1 ½ t allspice
2t ginger
1t cloves
1C molasses
1 large egg
5 ½ C (23 ¼ oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ½ t baking soda dissolved in ¼ C water

Shiny Cookie Glaze

3 ½ C confectioners’ sugar, sifted
6T pasteurized egg white*
1t vanilla, almond, or other extract
food coloring (optional)

Cream the butter, brown sugar, salt, and spices together. Add the molasses and egg and mix well. Stir in half of the flour and the soda dissolved in water, mixing until well combined. Add the remaining flour. Depending on the power of your mixer, you ay need to add the last bit of flour by hand and knead it in. Divide the dough in half and wrap well. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight. The dough changes over the resting period, making it easier to work with and adding flavor to the cookies.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Work with half the dough at a time on a well-floured surface. Roll the dough to ¼ inch thick. Use cookie cutters to cut the cookies into shapes. Transfer the cookies to ungreased baking sheets, leaving about ½ inch between them. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, being careful not to over bake. The cookies will still be soft when done. Let them rest on the baking sheet to firm before transferring to a rack to cool.

To make the glaze: Place the sifted confectioners’ sugar in a medium-sized bowl. Stir together the milk and egg white and add to the sugar. Mix by hand or at the mixer’s lowest speed until the glaze is the consistency of molasses. Adjust the consistency with a tablespoon of water if necessary. Mix in the extract and food coloring. Keep the glaze covered while working with it, to keep it from forming a skin.

Dip the cooled cookies in the glaze, then sweep a spatula over the top of each cookie to remove the excess. Place on a wire rack for several hours or overnight to let the glaze harden and dry.

*You can also use ¼ C meringue powder (dried egg whites), if you prefer. Mix it in with the confectioners’ sugar before adding the liquids, and mix for 4 to 5 minutes to allow the mixture to become smooth.

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