Friday, December 12, 2014


Christmas 1989. Yours truly, age 2.

This is a baking tradition in my family. Every year, my mom would make gingerbread men for Christmas. As a child, I didn't much like the cookie, but preferred the icing. I got older, and at 12 I started baking the gingerbread myself. I haven't missed a year since then. I've given them as gifts to classmates, teachers and professors, colleagues, and a future spouse. For the first Christmas in my home, my mom sent me a surprise package in the mail containing my own set of gingerbread people cookie cutters so I can continue the tradition. I'm still baking them, when a family Christmas was 3,000 miles away and when it's a little closer with the in-laws.

Gingerbread People
loosely adapted from the Revel Cookbook, 1980

2 sticks butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons molasses
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Cream butter and sugar. Add egg and beat until light and fluffy. Add molasses; mix well. Combine dry ingredients and spices with creamed mixture. Mix well. Chill dough thoroughly. Remove small amount of dough at a time from refrigerator so it will stay cold during cutting.  Roll to 1/4" thickness on a lightly floured surface. (Pastry cloth facilitates lifting the arms and legs without stretching them.) Cut with appropriate cookie cutter. Place 1" apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes. (Watch closely because each oven heats differently.) Cool 1 minute; remove from pan and let cool completely before decorating. Yields 2 dozen.