1. Start with a good recipe
For the cookies, try this one from Sally's Baking Addiction.
For the icing, you can buy it pre-made and ready to pipe, or make your own. Try this one from Real Simple.
2. Chill the dough
To make working with the dough easier, make sure to chill before rolling it out. Otherwise, things might get sticky.
Once you're done with the initial mix, create a disk with your dough and wrap in plastic wrap. Place in the fridge for 1-2 hours.
3. Make things a little easier when rolling out your dough
Liberally flour your rolling surface before setting to work. Or, for a less-mess approach, roll out your dough between two pieces of parchment paper.
4. Don't overwork your dough
Overworked dough=tough, dense gingerbread cookies. Make sure to avoid overmixing or rolling out the dough too many times. If you're worried you won't be able to control yourself, add 2 tablespoons of white vinegar to keep things soft.
5. Make a plan
Take your cookie cutters and map out where you'll stamp before you get going. If you optimize space, you'll waste less dough and have to re-roll less often.
6. Avoid sticky cookie cutters
For seamlessly cut cookies, dip your cutters in flour or mist them lightly with non-stick spray before setting to work.
7. Decorate the right way for best results
Make sure you let your cookies fully cool before decorating.
If you want to jazz-up your royal icing, add citrus zest or different extracts. You can also add food coloring to add some variety to your cookies.
Make sure to add any decorations (like, I don't know...gumdrop buttons for example) while your icing is still wet. Otherwise, they won't stay in place.
Allow icing to dry (about 2 hours) before storing.
Cookies are best for a few days after baking when kept properly stored in an airtight container. If you like your cookies on the fresher side, you can freeze your dough in smaller batches for up to three months.
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