When I was a kid, my aunt made gingerbread one year, and thus began my obsession.
My mother is affectionately known as the “cookie lady” in our neighborhood because she makes these huge delicious cookie platters to give away around the holidays, but she never made gingerbread. She probably skipped it because she already made sugar cookies, which you have to roll out, cut, and decorate, like gingerbread. It’s a lot of work when you’re making dozens upon dozens of cookies.
I got the recipe from my aunt, and over the years, I’ve changed it a bit. Now, I have the perfect cookie. So I decided to make them for this year’s Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap! Here, my little men are getting packed up and ready for their journey to new food blogger friends from around the country:
The biggest change I made to my aunt’s original recipe was to add in bread flour. One year, I went to make them and realized I was almost out of all-purpose flour. I had accidentally purchased bread flour!
Bread flour typically has more protein than all-purpose flour, which leads to more gluten. If you love chewy breads, they’re probably made with bread flour, as opposed to light, fluffy breads, which are probably made with all-purpose flour. There’s a really great post on Joy of Baking here that goes into detail about the different types of flour if you want to learn more.
The bread flour makes them a little chewier, and I’ve also adjusted the spices a bit so they aren’t punch-you-in-the face (especially the cloves, which have a tendency to do that). My aunt who originally made the gingerbread looks forward to getting them from me every year!
If you don’t have bread flour in the house but want to try them anyway, you can use all-purpose for the entire recipe.
Also, part of what makes these cookies so good is that you can roll them thinner if you like a crispy cookie or roll them thicker if you like a chewy cookie. I usually make some of both! Just try to do an entire cookie sheet of cookies rolled to the same thickness so you can take them out of the oven at the right time. You have to watch the thin ones so they don’t burn.
Confession: I get the Betty Crocker icing to decorate instead of making my own. You could definitely make your own royal icing with powdered sugar, milk, and a little vanilla. I just find it so much easier to buy it in the package ready for decorating! I’m know – I’m a total cheat. But I’m okay with that.
Before posting the recipe, I also want to say a BIG THANK YOU to the food blogger who sent cookies to me! They were all delicious!
The cookies I got were:
- Butter Cookies from Kelly at Long Distance Baking
- Peanut Butter Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookies from Charles at Local Forkful
- Ninjabread Men from Amanda at From Me to Vuu
- Pistachio Cookies, Date-Nut Bars, Gooey Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cookies, and Refrigerator Cookies from Allison at Sushi Day
Normally with the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, you’d only get three care packages with cookies, but since we were both participating anyway, my friend Allison from Sushi Day (and Fridgg) and I decided to swap cookies too. Oh man, she sent me the motherload of four different kinds of cookies!
Anyway, here’s my gingerbread recipe. Hope you enjoy it!