The Abbey of Our Lady and of St. Ginger, Gingerbread Cookies

Do you remember the Knights Templar, the mysterious order of Holy Warriors that went underground to avoid persecution. There was a baker among them named Baker Keith who came from Saint Claude in France, he was the Grand Master of baking for the Templar Knights, during one of the crusades in the Holy land at the Siege of Acre-he escaped with his life, but only barely. Wandering through the Far East trading secrets along the Silk Road-he ended up spending the his golden years in the Kaifeng. When he went to the great beyond, the Emperor Quinzong had his ashes and this recipe placed in a porcelain urn where it remained until Sue and I bought the urn at a flea market in San Francisco last year. Couriosity got the better of me, I unsealed it and the ashen papyrus unveiled it's secret. We salute you oh Grand Baker Keith of Templar Lore for sharing this wonderful recipe with us. We hope it lasts for another 1000 years.


2 cups flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for rolling
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1/3 cup unsulfured molasses
1 large egg
Decorating sugar or sprinkles (optional)

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, spices, baking soda, and salt; set aside. With an electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in molasses and egg. With mixer on low, add dry ingredients; mix just until a dough forms. Place dough on floured plastic wrap; pat into an 8-inch square. Wrap well; chill until firm, 1 to 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Divide dough in half. Working with one half at a time (rewrap and refrigerate other half), place dough on floured parchment or waxed paper; roll out to 1/8-inch thick, turning, lifting, and flouring dough (and rolling pin) as needed. Freeze dough (on paper) until firm, about 20 minutes.

Loosen dough from paper. Cut out shapes, and transfer to baking sheets. Decorate with sugar or sprinkles, as desired. Bake until firm and edges just begin to darken, 10 to 18 minutes, depending on size of cookie. Cool completely on baking sheets.

Cook's Note:
For the neatest edges, dip cutters in flour before cutting out each cookie. This recipe makes 3-dozen medium cookies.





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