5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling/dusting
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 teaspoons ground ginger
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (In my opinion, this little detail...freshly grated...makes a difference)
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups unsulfured molasses
Royal Icing for decorating
Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and spices in a medium bowl. Beat butter and sugar with a mixer on medium high speed until fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in molasses. Reduce speed to low. Gradually add flour mixture, and beat until just combined. Divide dough into 3 portions, and wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare heavy baking pans with a piece of parchment paper on each. Sprinkle a generous amount of flour onto a cold, hard surface such as marble or granite. (It does make a difference). Roll a piece of dough to about 1/4 to 1/3-inch thick. Brush off excess flour. Cut out desired shapes. Transfer to parchment lined baking sheets, and refrigerate for about 15 minutes. Remove from refrigerator, and bake for about 10 to 12 minutes (less if using small cutters). The key is to watch the baking progress, and being careful not to burn the edges. The cookies should be firm, but finger soft when touched. Remove sheets from oven, and let cool in pans on wire racks for one minute; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
Decorate as desired; let dry completely before storing between sheets of parchment at room temperature for up to one week. These cookies freeze beautifully.
Photo: Mini Gingerbread Men stand guard around my Gingerbread Cheesecake.