Preheat oven to 325°
Combine flour, soda, salt, cloves & cinnamon
Using mixer, cream shortening and sugar and then beat in eggs and molasses’s
Gradually stir in flour mixture using a wooden spoon
Divide dough into 4 and wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours or up to 1 week
Roll to 1/4″ thickness between sheets of waxed paper (it’s a pretty sticky dough!)
Using cookie cutters, cut the various shapes needed and place on cookie sheet
Freeze for 20 minutes which helps prevent the dough spreading too much when baking
Bake 325° for 12-15 minutes
TIP – When building gingerbread houses, it is always a good idea to re-trim all of the pieces while they are still soft and warm from the oven. This gives much straighter edges making it easier to assemble.
For many years when my kids were young, each December we would have a gingerbread house party where several kids would come and have fun building and decorating gingerbread houses. Over time, the girls continued to make cute little houses while the boys just loaded it up with icing and candy and then went to play. I finally figured out that for the boys the easiest thing was to just give them a very large gingerbread man to decorate instead of a whole house to assemble and decorate lol!
TIP – When doing gingerbread decorating with kids (or even adults) divide the icing into small ziploc bags and snip a tiny hole in the corner for the icing to be piped out. I would make several of these with limited amounts of icing in each and give them new ones as needed — otherwise, everything just ends up covered in an inch thick layer of icing ?
A few years ago our annual gingerbread house party was resurrected, but now that they are adults there is definitely a twist to the original party. Gone are the cute little gingerbread houses replaced with everything from a bridge to some very warped but humourous trailer park scenes — oh and there is perhaps just a few ounces of Christmas cheer involved too. However, they still seem to have just as much, if not more fun than they did when they were little!