Nancy Schubert took first place in 1992 with these chubby little bears. When she was growing up, "Gingerbread Saturday" was a tradition in Schubert's house, and she and her sister would spend the day rolling dough, cutting shapes, and baking and decorating cookies. To decorate the bears, she used colored sugar, little candies, and a classic royal icing. Confectioners’ sugar icing or tubes of decorator icing also can be used.
- Chilling time: 2 hours or overnight
- Yield: 3 to 4 dozen large bears
- 31/2 Cups unsifted all-purpose flour
- 11/2 Teaspoons each: ground ginger, cinnamon
- 1 Teaspoon each: ground cloves, baking soda
- 1/4 Teaspoon salt
- 1/2 Cup (1 stick) butter, softened
- 3/4 Cups sugar
- 1 large egg
- 3/4 Cups light molasses
- 1 Teaspoon grated lemon rind
- Decorations as desired
1. Measure 31/2 cups flour; sift together with spices, baking soda and salt; set aside. Beat butter with an electric mixer in a large bowl until smooth. Add sugar and mix on high speed until light and fluffy, 2 minutes. Add egg and mix well. Stop the mixer and add molasses and lemon rind. Mix on low speed to combine. Stir in dry ingredients with a wooden spoon.
2. Divide dough into four parts. Wrap each one separately in plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight.
3. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease baking sheets.
4. Remove one piece of dough from the refrigerator at a time. Roll the well-chilled dough on a floured board or between sheets of waxed paper to a 1/8-inch thickness. Cut out with cookie cutters and carefully transfer to prepared baking sheets, leaving 1-inch between each cookie.
5. Bake just until the cookies are lightly browned and set, 7 to 10 minutes. Do not overbake. Transfer from baking sheets to a wire rack and cool completely before decorating. Decorate as desired. Store in airtight containers.