This Gingerbread cookie recipe is tasty to eat and very easy to work with to make fine Gingerbread Boys. It's not quite sturdy enough to make large houses, but you can make very small ones with it. The cookies stay soft so cannot be hung on a tree.
Molasses is really a "must have" for Gingerbread. Pure cane syrup (pressed from Sugar Cane and cooked down) will substitute if necessary, but no other syrup will suffice.
Nauvoo Gingerbread Cookies
1 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Molasses
3/4 Cup Lard or Shortening
1/2 Cup Hot Water
6 Cups of Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Cinnamon (can increase to 3 teaspoons)
1 1/2 teaspoons Ginger (can increase to 3 teaspoons)
Mix sugar, molasses and lard. Measure hot water in the same measuring cup as the molasses (thus rinsing out the molasses) and add to bowl. Stir in eggs.
Combine dry ingredients and stir into the batter. Add more flour if needed to make a smooth, soft dough.
Refrigerate dough until firm: at least one hour, and overnight is best.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Roll dough 1/4" thick on a floured surface. Cut into shapes and decorate with red hots or raisins if desired.
Bake on ungreased baking sheets 10 minutes or until cookies look dry in center.
It's a little mild for my taste, so when we plan to eat the cookies, I double up on our favorite spices (no need to waste them if it is going to be made into houses). Spices are costly, and this recipe is easily adaptable to whatever you might already have in the cupboard. You can also add or substitute cardamom, nutmeg, allspice or even a twist of black pepper.
If buying the spices, be sure to price check or watch for coupons. Fiesta Brand is a local Texas brand of seasonings that is often found in a separate display, near the produce department or with bulk Mexican foods. The packaging is simple (most are in simple celophane bags) and quality is high without being pretentious.