Mark says actually his mom’s mom, so a real farm recipe from Kansas.
- 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda, dissolved in 1/3 cup warm water
- 1 cup shortening (I like Earth Balance) or 1/2 butter, 1/2 shortening
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 cup molasses, slightly warmed (I just heat the glass bottle in the microwave, but you can use a water bath)
- 5 cups unbleached white flour, approximately
- 1 teaspoon salt
- grated fresh nutmeg, about 1 teaspoon
- 1/2 teaspoon cloves
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 3 teaspoons (or a little more, if you like them spicey) ground ginger)
Cream the shortening and sugar, and add the baking soda and water, egg, and molasses. Measure in the salt. Mix the spices into the first cup of flour, and add that, then add enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough, that’s not too sticky. I think I usually use about 4 1/2 cups. Cover and chill the dough overnight, or up to three days. Roll out on a floured surface – thin (about 1/8 inch) if you like them crisp, thick (about 1/4 inch) if you like them chewy. Cut out with your favorite cutters. Bake at 350° for 8 – 10 minutes. Cool and frost. I like royal icing for these. You can also make egg paint, food coloring stirred into an egg yolk with a little water, and brush that on before baking. You can embed raisons, chocolate chips, etc. for decoration before baking, too.