In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and salt; set aside. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar and brown sugar, beating well. Beat in egg, molasses and orange zest. Gradually beat in as much of the flour mixture as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour mixture with a wooden spoon.Divide dough in half. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour or overnight.Advertisement
On a 12x15-inch piece of parchment paper, use a floured rolling pin to roll out half of dough to a 1/8-inch thickness. Cut out desired shapes; peel away excess dough. Transfer parchment paper with cutouts on it to a cookie sheet. (This parchment-paper rolling method prevents cookies from tearing or stretching when you transfer them to baking sheets. That’s especially important for gingerbread houses and thin cutouts like candy canes or wreaths. You can roll the dough on a floured surface if you prefer, but we do recommend baking on parchment paper.) Bake in a 375° oven for 6 to 8 minutes or until edges of cutouts are just beginning to brown. Place parchment with cutouts on a wire rack to cool. If you like, decorate with Royal Icing.
Gingerbread House Assembly:
Measure and trim the warm cookies for clean edges. Then decorate all pieces (walls, roof, chimney) separately and let them dry. Use soup cans or crumpled foil to support the joined walls from the inside as they dry, and wait until the walls are fully set to attach the roof. (Insert pins until the roof dries, if necessary.)
In a large mixing bowl, beat powdered sugar, meringue powder, cream of tartar, the water and vanilla with an electric mixer on low speed until combined. Beat on high speed for 7 to 10 minutes or until mixture is very stiff. Stir in more warm water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until icing reaches desired consistency. (If the icing ever gets too runny, just add powdered sugar.) If not using immediately, cover bowl with a damp paper towel and then with plastic wrap. Icing can be chilled for up to 48 hours. Makes 3 cups.Advertisement