1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup light molasses
1 cup vegetable shortening
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 egg, lightly beaten
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
4 to 4 ½ cups all-purpose flour, more for rolling dough
Royal icing and cinnamon candies, for decorating, optional.
In a small saucepan, combine brown sugar, molasses and shortening. Place over medium-low heat and stir just until mixture is melted and smooth. Remove from heat and mix in baking soda and ¼ cup cold water. Set aside and allow to cool to room temperature.
Add egg, salt, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon and cloves; stir to mix well. Add 4 cups flour and mix well, adding up to ½ cup more if dough seems sticky. Shape into a ball, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, up to 24 hours.
Preheat oven to 350º. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to ¼-inch thickness, and cut into ginger bread boy shapes with a 5-inch-long cookie cutter. Arrange on baking sheets 1½ inches apart, and bake until risen and no longer shiny, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow cookies to cool. If desired, decorate with royal icing and cinnamon candies. Store in an airtight container.