The holiday season is upon us, and so is the return of gingerbread. Most people probably only make gingerbread cookies once a year since they are so seasonal. With so little practice, bakers need all the tips they can get. The dough can be a lot to handle -- especially because gingerbread cookie recipes can call for upwards of five different spices to get their unique flavor.
The specific challenge of cookies like gingerbread men is achieving their signature shape. Much of the disfigurement occurs when the baker has to pick up the cut cookies and transfer them to a baking sheet. The dough may stretch accidentally or get stuck to the counter, and yummy limbs could be lost. To avoid a misshapen mess and maintain clean lines and precise shapes, roll and cut the gingerbread dough directly on a piece of parchment paper dusted with flour. After the extra dough is removed from around the cookies, this parchment can be transferred to a baking sheet and slid into the oven.
The Less You Handle Gingerbread Dough, The Better
Like many aspects of the holidays, gingerbread cookies require a lot of love. Once you've tackled the dough, rolling and shaping the gingerbread is the next task. Don't make the mistakes everyone makes when baking gingerbread — like not chilling the dough. Chilled dough prevents the cookies from spreading out too much in the oven. Also, rolling and cutting the gingerbread over parchment paper is an extra cautionary step to reduce handling. When the dough isn't overly handled, it maintains its shape and minimizes heat transfer from warm hands. So, next time you make gingerbread cookies, use parchment paper to your advantage.
Nothing's more satisfying than pulling gingerbread cookies out of the oven that are shaped as intended. Gingerbread blobs are no fun to decorate, but gingerbread men certainly are. You can reuse the same piece of parchment you used to bake with as a surface to contain the mess of decorating. For those who like sweeter gingerbread, try spreading icing across the top and adding details with candies and sprinkles. For those who enjoy gingerbread for its spices, use a piping bag for minimal icing decorations.
Read the original article on Mashed.